BUY BAT PLANT SEED – Tacca chantieri
If you are looking to buy seed from the bat plant, you are in luck. The 'Garden of Eaden' seed shop now has bat plant seed in stock as part of its standard range. Just click on the links to be directed to the new and improved seed shop.
The incredible, yet stunning looking Bat plant is so unusual in its shape and design that it almost looks unreal. Growing wild in the tropical forests of the Yunnan Province, China, this gothic plant can reach a height of up 36 inches! It grows best in a well-drained, slightly acidic soil and although it appears highly exotic, this beautiful plant is in fact hardy down to -3 degrees Celsius!
The bat plant prefers warm humid temperatures, but will happily grow outside in a container so long as it is placed in a sheltered position protected from the strength of a mid-day sun. In fact, you may be able to grow it directly in the ground if you live in a climate where frosts are unheard of you could consider growing bat plants permanently outside, planted directly in the ground. However, it would still be wise to start if off in a container and place it in a proven spot provided it receives enough shade from direct sunlight.
However, it may need to come under protection over winter if temperatures are likely to dip below freezing. To keep on the safe side, bring it into the warm as soon as temperatures start dropping below 6 °Celsius. During this cold period, keep the compost just on the moist side or even let it dry out between watering as you would do for an orchid.
GROWING FROM SEED
Sow bat plant – Tacca chantieri seed into plug trays filled with a good quality John Innes ‘Seed’ compost, then give them a further light covering of compost or horticultural grit. Gently water them in, and then seal the tray into a clear polythene bag placing it on the window sill of a warm bright room. Make sure that the tray is out of direct sunlight. Don’t hold your breath because germination can take anywhere between 1 and 9 months! However, this can be greatly improved by allowing the seed to soak overnight in warm water before sowing.
Once the bat plant seedlings are large enough to handle they will be ready for transplanting into individual pots. Using a good quality ericaceous compost mix, add 10-20% horticultural grit or perlite to it for extra drainage. TIP. During the growing season, these young seedlings must be watered regularly, and because they thrive in humid conditions give them an occasional misting too.
While growing bat plants from seed will give you the opportunity to produce a variety of colour forms, you can also propagate bat plants from root cuttings from two year old plants onwards.
When potting on a bat plant use a good quality ericaceous compost mix. However, it is advisable to add 10-20% horticultural grit or perlite to it for extra drainage. Drainage is important where bat plants are concerned. If they are left in waterlogged conditions, they can be subject to a fungal disease which can attack the leaves - blackening them from the edges.
Note. Avoid re-potting unless there is a good 2-3 months of warm weather left. During the winter in temperate and sub-tropical zones, the bat plant will go dormant but it will not die back. However, it will die back to its rhizome if you overwater in winter when the plant is dormant. Water too much however and you will risk killing off the entire root system.
CARE OF YOUR BAT PLANT
To get the best flowering out of you bat plant you will need to keep it well fed with plant fertiliser. Osmocote is particularly effective otherwise use soluble high potash fertilisers. If your bat plant starts to dry out you will find that the leaves will quickly wilt, but don’t worry too much about this. If you catch it in time and give a quick watering, the leaves will bounce back with no obvious sighs of distress.
During the winter, watering will need to be reduced considerably, but do not allow the soil to dry out completely. To maintain the bat plant in best condition, move it to a mild, sheltered area such as a conservatory, then re-pot into a larger pot once new growth begins in the spring.
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