If you are looking for a compact and unique houseplant that won’t give you any headache, then you should be looking at Alocasia Black Velvet. Who wouldn’t be attracted to the extremely black leaves with velvety surface? Not to mention that the plant isn’t overly big, but it can be quite wide without taking too much space. If you want to have one at home, make sure that you pay attention to the proper care and grow.
- Scientific name: Alocasia Reginula
- Popular name: Black Velvet Elephant Ear, Alocasia Black Velvet, Little Queen Alocasia, Jewel Alocasia
- Family: Araceae
- Genus: Alocasia
- Species: A. Regina
- Cultivar: Black Velvet
- Plant type: Perennial, Herbaceous
The Gorgeous Nature of Alocasia Black Velvet
The genus Alocasia has around 79 species, and they are native to the East Australian and Asian subtropical areas. The roots are in rhizomes or tubes forms. Members of Araceae family (and genus) are typically cultivated or hybridized so new plants can be created. Black Velvet has average height between 10 inches and 20 inches, also with similar width. The body structure is rhizomatous and branched. After all, the plant grows through the clumpy rhizomes.
You probably have heard about Elephant Ear plant, which is popular for its extremely big and tall leaves with heart (or arrowhead) shape, which can deliver easy tropical effect instantly. Elephant Ear falls into the genus Alocasia and Colocasia as both of them are coming from the same family, and both of them have many similar traits and features.
However, not all Elephant Ear types are big and wide. The Alocasia Black Velvet is one of the variant that isn’t only unique, but it is also smaller and somewhat more compact. What makes this plant more unique is the physical appearance. With combination of super dark green leaves (almost to the level of being jet black), silvery veins, and velvety textures, the Black Velvet is definitely catchy.
Black Velvet Alocasia is the smaller variant of Elephant Ear that has its own distinctive appearance. When compared to other Elephant Ear types, this one is relatively slower in growth. Although some people call it a rare plant, the Black Velvet is relatively easy to care and maintain, provided that you meet all the requirements. Simply pay detailed attention to what it needs (not too much and not too less), and you can expect your Alocasia to grow healthily and beautifully.
History and Origin
Alocasia Black Velvet is native to the tropical atmosphere of Southeast Asia, in which they can be found easily growing under the canopy. The source is unknown but speculations point to Borneo. In the 1860s, the plant was brought to the western world where hobbyist would explore the unhabited jungle regions to find unique houseplants.
About Black Velvet Alocasia Variant
Some of the Black Velvets are variegated, while some aren’t. Whether you have yourself Alocasia Black Velvet variegated or not, the original one itself is unique and different. In the old days, the Black Velvet might be rare and difficult to find, but thanks to the newest technology of tissue culturing, it’s not so hard to find that variant.
The ‘original’ Black Velvet itself has been unique, with the classic and somewhat regal velvety texture, jet black foliage, and the silvery veins. On the underside, you may also find splotchy magenta hues. Others may develop their own mutations with strong pinkish tone or even lighter green and aurealike yellow tone.
The plant isn’t grown for the flowers, but for the leaves. After all, it rarely blooms. And even when it blooms, the white flowers are quite plain and not fragrant. The focus of the plant is the unique foliage with its possible variegated types. The plant loves high humidity, which makes it perfect for sunny and steamy bathroom.
This plant loves bright and indirect sun, but it can actually tolerate lower light levels. It’s never a good idea to place the plant in direct and blazing sun as it can burn the plant. To be on the safe side, place your plant close to the windows facing east or north. If you have sheer curtain, it would be even better because the curtain will filter out the light while making sure that the plant still gets enough light.
Alocasia Black Velvet doesn’t like being exposed to the wind, so make sure that it is sheltered from draft or wind. Don’t place the plant close to air conditioner, fan, or air vents. According to some people, the best place for the plant is in bathroom window, especially the one facing north or east. After all, you want to keep it balance. Too much light can harm and burn the plant, but too little light can result in leggy stems and not-too-bright leaves.
Read also : Alocasia Stingray : All You Need To Know About
Humidity and Temperature
The Black Velvets would grow well in temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they can still survive in 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The most ideal temperature would be 65 degrees to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity level should be more than 50% if you want the plant to grow well. Never put the plant in a room with AC or drafty rooms.
Just like other Alocasias who appreciate tropical environment, the same thing also applies to Alocasia Black Velvet. You want to put the plant in a room where the humidity is high, such as in bathroom. You can also increase the humidity by doing the following things.
- You can put bowls, cups, or other containers filled with water surrounding the plant. It is meant to expose the air to the water, which would evaporate. It would increase the humidity level around the plant
- Humidifier is another possible alternative. It’s the easiest and fastest method that is effective enough to increase the humidity.
- Consider having a pebble tray with pebbles and water. The plant is placed on top of the pebble so the root won’t be touching the water. At the same time, the water within the tray will evaporate, increasing the moisture level around the plant.
Keep in mind that although misting can be a good method to increase humidity, it may not be ideal for the Black Velvets. It’s because of the velvety texture that may ‘trap’ the water, possibly leading to other issues, such as fungal or bacterial growth. You can do a similar way as misting, which is wiping. Simply wipe the leaves with soft cloth dipped in water.
Leaves and Flowers
Alocasia Black Velvet leaves are 2 inches in width, give or take. The stem is pale and thick. The length of the leaves is generally bigger than the one of the stem. If the Black Velvet has extremely favorable growing condition, it’s possible that the plant may produce flowers. However, this condition is quite rare. After all, the flowers aren’t appealing. It has anthurium-like and small appearance, with white (and sterile) spadix like the fingers. The spadix itself has pale yellow spathe.
Most Alocasias have the so-called oxalic acid, which is toxic for animals and also humans. Black Velvet has it too, which makes it harmful for pets and kids, and even yourself. Ingestion can lead to health problems. Even touching it without the gloves may cause skin irritation, rash, and itchiness. If you have one at home, you need to think carefully of a spot that is far away from pets and kids.
Alocasia Black Velvet grow well and quite fast in summer months (and also springs), but in winters or other colder days, the plant can get dormant. To solve this issue, you can change the placement in areas where getting the brightest light (without facing it directly to the sunlight) is possible. In winters, the plant goes in ‘hibernation mode’ by not growing and shedding leaves. It’s not dead; it simply sleeps. You may want to reduce watering and fertilizer application. Keep the humidity and increase the indirect light intensity. Your plant should be fine.
Moisture plays a crucial factor to keep your plant healthy and well, so you may want to go with well-drained and loose potting medium that is rich in nutrients. You can try mixing up loam, sand, and bark to keep your plant. You probably think that coco coir or peat moss would be an ideal option, but for Black Velvets, you want to avoid them.
Alocasia Black Velvet doesn’t appreciate pooling water. You don’t want to flood your plant if you want it healthy and fine. Overwatering would result in root rot which would jeopardize the entire health of the plant. Having enough water is crucial. Water deeply, make sure that excess water can escape the pot, and let the topsoil to completely dry off before you can water again. Around 2 inches of the soil should be dry before you can water again. Unlike the bigger Alocasias, the Black Velvet doesn’t need abundant water.
A tray with water can help as it will prevent any wet feet while encouraging the required humidity level. You still need to water the plant during winter months, but you shouldn’t do it as often as the growing periods of springs and summers. The soil should also dry out before the next water can be applied.
Alocasia Black Velvet appreciates extra vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, but giving them too much will harm the plant. You can try giving it at regular intervals, but don’t implement heavy feeding. Over fertilizing can burn the root, which will affect the plant’s health. Although some people say that applying fertilizer once every two weeks can help, many prefer giving it once a month. Use the liquid fertilizer for houseplants and be sure to apply it as the given directions.
Pruning is necessary if you find dying or dead leaves. Pruning will encourage new leaves that are basically healthier. Leaves that are affected by diseases or pests can also be removed through pruning. Moreover, Black Velvets don’t flower quite often. It would be a rare occasion to see your plant blooms.
Even if you do see one, the flowers aren’t attractive or impressive. They are quite plain and so-so. If you want to boost your Black Velvet to the maximum potential, it’s best to prune the flowers so the main energy can go to the leaves.
You can grow the Alocasia Black Velvet from seed, but it is extremely slow and tricky. Stem cutting would be impossible too. You need to remember that Black Velvets spread by rhizomes which can generate new (upward) growing shoots, giving this unique plant a clump-forming nature. To propagate this plant, you need to divide the clumps or pot the mature plants’ rhizome cuttings.
The steps to propagate the Black Velvet are:
- Wait to spring time – at least until your plant has come out from its dormancy period
- Wear protective gears, especially thick gloves
- Remove the plant. Shake off the soil (around the roots) gently so you can see the rhizomes
- Use a clean and sterilized knife to cut the rhizome offsets. You can do it from the central stem
- Place the cutting in a pot. Fill it up with well-drained and moist potting mix. Make sure that you keep it in a warm and humid environment
- New roots should take a few weeks to grow and appear
In general, it’s quite common for the plant to produce individual corms, or the little bulb-like stems that grow underground. The corms can produce new growth of plants. The corm has this tendency not to propagate in soil well because it doesn’t get enough humidity. But you are able to remove the corm, place it in the shallow water, and cover it so it gets the right level of humidity. Once it propagates, you can re-plant it on the soil again.
Potting (and Repotting)
Black Velvets are typically the plant that enjoys a bit of rootbound. And because it is one of the slow growing plant, you may not need to re-pot it often. At least once in several years would be enough, or when you want to divide the rhizomes.
The pot should also have enough drainage holes so the excess water can escape. At least, it should have more than one hole. If you have plastic pots, you can make more holes to promote excess moisture.
Read also : Alocasia Azlanii (Red Mambo): Grow and Care Tips
Common Pests and Diseases
This is a plant that is fortunate enough not to be bothered by diseases. However, spider mites are one of the worst nemesis of Alocasia Black Velvet. Spider mites love dry environment, so keeping them at bay would be enough when you are able to maintain the high humidity level.
How fast do Alocasia Black Velvet grow?
When compared to the bigger Alocasia siblings, Alocasia Black Velvet is relatively slower. To reach maturity, it takes a full two year, even up to five years. When the plant is fully grown, it still remains small and compact, rarely grow more than around 18 inches.
Alocasia Black Velvet vs Frydek
Alocasia Frydek is also known as the Alocasia Green Velvet. The Green Velvet also has unique appearance of its own, and it’s increasing in popularity. The leaves are dark green and in arrow shape, also come with distinctive and contrast veins. However, the Black Velvet comes with silvery veins while the Frydek has with white veins. In terms of size, the Frydek is bigger, and its growth level is faster. The maximum heights can go up to 3 feet.
How big do Alocasia Black Velvet get?
When the plant matures, it can reach maximum two feet in height. Although it is considered more compact than its other Alocasia ‘siblings’, this one can expand and span up to 2 feet in width, especially in the wild.
Is Alocasia Black Velvet rare?
In the old days, Black Velvet was extremely rare. But because of the technology and the fact that many have cultivated the Black Velvet, the plant isn’t hard to find anymore. However, it’s safe to say that the plant is quite rare in standard and regular garden centers. Consider yourself lucky to be able to find one and grow one on your own.
Alocasia Black Velvet vs Maharani
They are like twins, so it’s logical if you have difficult times differentiating them apart. You need to take a very closer look to know the difference between Alocasia Black Velvet and Maharani. Black Velvet somewhat has more velvety foliage. The leaves are darker too. But Maharani has thicker foliage. If you put them together side by side, and touch them, you would understand the differences.
Brown spots on Alocasia Black Velvet
There are so many different reasons for the brown spots on the plant.
- Low humidity. When the plant doesn’t get enough humidity, then seeing brown sports shouldn’t be too surprising. Simply increase the humidity level with the described methods in the previous section.
- Rust. It is one of the diseases that may happen to Alocasia. It may be the result of overwatering. Try using a soaker hose or a drip irrigation to prevent water from flooding the area. Also makes sure that your Alocasia has enough space from other plants or other items so the air circulation around it would be maintained. Using a humidifier will also help improve the condition
- Excessive light. When you see brown spots accompanied by yellow leaves, then your plant is exposed too much to the sun. Remove it to a place where it gets less intense light.
- Fertilizer problem. Too much fertilizer may result to root burnt. It’s also possible that you have used the wrong kinds of fertilizer. Check your fertilizer application: the method, time when doing it, and such things.
- Watering issue. If the brown spot happens along drying leaves, it’s highly likely your plant doesn’t get enough water. Then check the soil. If it is too dry, then the issue is confirmed. You need to develop your own watering schedule and habit so you’ll figure it out exactly how much water your plant needs – during the growing seasons of springs and summers, and during the dormant periods of falls and winters.
Does Alocasia Black Velvet go dormant?
Yes, it’s possible that your plant goes to dormancy period. The first reason is because of stress. You only need to let it rest, having minimal water. The condition should improve and not get worse. The second reason is the temperature. In cool temperature where the intensity of light drops and the soil turns (too) dry, the Black Velvet may become dormant. Make sure that
Why is my Black Velvet Alocasia turning yellow?
It’s possible that your Black Velvet has too much water. Remember, Alocasia doesn’t stand pooling water. Even soggy soil can be bad for its health. You need to check your watering schedule. Whether you need to work on your watering habit, or you need to consider better soil or better container.
How to clean Alocasia Black Velvet leaves?
Basically, the Black Velvet loves being misted very much. Some people only spray the leaves and leave them like that. However, some like to use soft cloth or rag that has been dipped in water. A gentle wipe should do it. Leaves can collect too much dust. When it happens, they can’t breathe properly. A soft and gentle wipe should do it. No need to dip the cloth in water too much to the point of drizzling. Not only it helps them to breathe properly again, but it can also make the leaves look dazzling and shiny.
How to revive Black Velvet Alocasia?
You can only revive your Alocasia Black Velvet ONLY if it still has healthy rhizome. Here are some possible solutions to deal with it:
- Stop feeding it fertilizer or plant food. Let it fully recovers before you give it extra nutrients.
- Make sure that you remove the plant from direct sunlight. This time, place it in a more shaded area but still getting enough light.
- Only waters it when needed – when the top soil (3 inches of it) has been dried out
And how do you know that your plant has recovered? The soil isn’t too moist or too hard. The leaves turn green and there is a lush appearance to it – not too dry or too floppy anymore.
In the end, the best thing that you can do is to implement what you have learned to see your plant’s growth and outcome. As long as you are able to pay detailed attention to your Alocasia Black Velvet, you should expect satisfying outcome.