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How to Grow a White Bat Plant

By Kate Carpenter ; Updated September 21, 2017

The white bat plant, also known as tacca integrifolia, is an unusual plant that originates in the tropics of Southeast Asia, eastern India and southern China. It derives its name from its flower, which resembles a bat's face, with large ears and long whiskers. In zones 10 and 11, the white bat plant can be grown outdoors, in the shade, if you have high humidity and temperatures never fall below 40 degrees F. As an indoor plant, under the correct conditions, your white bat plant will be a conversation topic.

Outdoors

Select a spot in your landscape for the white bat plant that is in the shade or has filtered light. Because white bat plants originate in the tropics where sunlight is blocked and filtered by the thick growth of the tree canopy, white bat plants demand a low-light location. Additionally, white bat plants should be located where they will not receive wind.

Plant your white bat plants in rich, loamy soil that drains well. If your soil is more compact, work organic compost into the soil where you plan to plant. White bat plants like constantly moist soil, but not soggy.

Water regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist during the growing season of spring through fall. During the winter, decrease your watering where the soil slightly dries before watering.

Fertilize your white bat plant every week or two with liquid fish emulsion fertilizer or orchid fertilizer. Do not over-fertilize; you may wish to slightly dilute your fertilizer solution. White bat plants do better in acidic soil, so if your soil is high in alkaline, work some azalea food into the soil around the white bat plant.

Protect your white bat plant during the winter if temperatures fall below 40 degrees F. White bat plants are sensitive to cooler temperatures. Mulch around your white bat plant and cover it with a sheet, blanket or burlap during an unexpected cold night.

Indoors

Plant your white bat plant in a pot that is slightly larger than the root ball of the plant. White bat plants do best if they are not in a container that is too large because the plant roots cannot control or absorb the water in the soil as well. Growing your white bat plant in a pot that is slightly larger than its root ball is ideal. When re-potting, choose a pot that is the next larger size.

Use a rich, loamy potting soil that drains well to plant your white bat plant. To increase drainage, add perlite or vermiculite to the potting soil.

Place your potted white bat plant in a location that has filtered light, temperatures in the 70 to 80 degree F range, no drafts and high humidity. A humidifier or greenhouse will keep the humidity at a high level. Misting daily and water in the saucer also adds humidity to this plant.

Water your white bat plant daily to keep the soil constantly moist during its growing season of spring through fall. The white bat plant is from the tropics and needs moist soil to survive and thrive. During the winter, when your white bat plant is resting, allow the soil to dry slightly before watering. Check the soil by inserting your fingertip into the soil about 1/2 inch. If it feels dry or damp, it is time to water.

Fertilize your white bat plant weekly during the growing season with liquid fish emulsion or orchid food. During the winter, decrease feeding to once a month.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Potting soil, formulated for high drainage
  • Perlite or vermiculite (optional)
  • Liquid fish emulsion fertilizer
  • Azalea fertilizer (optional)
  • Mister or humidifier