How to Grow and Care for Alocasia Black Velvet Plants at Home
Your houseplant collection is full of lush, glossy species, but it could use some variety. Enter the Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ (Alocasia reginula). This plant is deep green with velvety foliage, bringing a moody and elegant air to any indoor environment. Read on to learn how to grow and care for the Black Velvet Alocasia plant at home.
- Alocasia Black Velvet Plant Care Basics
- About Alocasia Black Velvet Plants
- Scientific Facts About Alocasia Black Velvet
- Origins and History
- Alocasia Black Velvet Botanical Characteristics
- Popular Types of Alocasia Black Velvet Houseplants
- Uses and Benefits of Alocasia Black Velvet
- Are Alocasia Black Velvet Plants Toxic to Humans or Pets?
- How Long Do Alocasia Black Velvet Plants Live?
- Are Alocasia Black Velvet Easy to Grow at Home?
- Alocasia Black Velvet Plant Meaning and Symbolism
- How to Grow Alocasia Black Velvet Plants at Home
- How to Care for Alocasia Black Velvet at Home
- Common Alocasia Black Velvet Problems and How to Treat Them
- Essential Tools to Have Around
- Wrapping Up
- Growing Alocasia Black Velvet Plant FAQs
Alocasia Black Velvet Plant Care Basics
|Botanical Name:||Alocasia reginula|
|Also Known As:||Alocasia ‘Black Velvet,’ Little Queen, Black Velvet Elephant Ear, Dwarf Black Queen|
|Care Difficulty:||Moderate to difficult|
|Light Requirements:||Moderate to bright indirect light|
|Temperature and Humidity:||Thrives in temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 Fahrenheit or more. Prefers humidity around 50 to 75 percent.|
|Watering:||Water when the top two inches of soil are dry. This may be around once a week in the warmer months, depending on location. Decrease watering frequency in winter.|
|Soil:||Well-draining and coarse for optimal aeration. Slightly acidic, with a pH from around 5.5 to 6.5.|
|Feeding:||Use an all-purpose fertilizer at half or quarter-strength once a month during the warmer months.|
|Growth Expectations:||Grows faster during the spring and summer and becomes dormant during the cold months. Can reach just under a foot tall with around an 18-inch spread.|
|Toxicity:||Toxic to humans and pets if consumed.|
About Alocasia Black Velvet Plants
Scientific Facts About Alocasia Black Velvet
The Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ is one of 97 recognized species within the Alocasia genus.
The scientific name for this species is Alocasia reginula. It belongs to the Araceae family, or the arum family.
Origins and History
Now, most Alocasias are native to tropical and subtropical parts of Asia and Eastern Australia. However, the Alocasia reginula is a cultivated species sold as a houseplant around the world.
Many believe this Black Velvet Alocasia comes from Borneo in Southeast Asia. English collectors visited jungles there in the 1860s, collecting the Black Velvet and similar species.
Interestingly, the Black Velvet Alocasia is considered rare. However, tissue culture experts have developed ways to propagate the species on a larger scale. This means it is now more widely available in shops and nurseries.
Alocasia Black Velvet Botanical Characteristics
This attractive plant displays deep green foliage that appears almost black. Its leaves are oval-shaped with pointed tips and thick, silver veins.
The nearly-black shade of this plant’s leaves is likely a clever result of evolution. As you may know, black absorbs more light than other colors. So, this plant’s leaves allow it to maximize the amount of light it receives, even beneath thick canopies in the jungle.
Black Velvet Alocasias are perennial plants, so they go dormant and may even appear lifeless in the winter. Don’t worry; they’ll sprout new foliage when their growing season begins in the spring.
Popular Types of Alocasia Black Velvet Houseplants
The Black Velvet plant is a singular species within the Alocasia genus. However, here are a few other Alocasias you may want to add to your collection.
Alocasia Amazonica ‘Polly’
The Alocasia Amazonica ‘Polly’ is the most common type of Alocasia that you’ll find in a local shop or nursery. This species has dark, narrow green leaves with wavy edges, setting it apart from the Black Velvet variety.
The Alocasia lauterbachiana is also called the purple sword. This plant grows long and narrow leaves with serrated edges and deep green or purplish coloring.
Uses and Benefits of Alocasia Black Velvet
Simply put, people grow the Black Velvet Alocasia primarily for ornamental purposes.
This plant does not have many known benefits for feng shui, medicinal consumption, or air purification. However, it does make a striking focal point for your interior decor.
Are Alocasia Black Velvet Plants Toxic to Humans or Pets?
Unfortunately, the Black Velvet Alocasia is toxic to both humans and pets. This is because it contains calcium oxalate crystals.
If consumed, the plant can cause the tongue and pharynx to go numb. This can lead to pain and potentially affect your breathing. So, it’s a good idea to keep this species out of reach of both pets and children.
How Long Do Alocasia Black Velvet Plants Live?
The Black Velvet Alocasia can live for several years, as long as you meet its care requirements.
Are Alocasia Black Velvet Easy to Grow at Home?
The Black Velvet Alocasia can be particular about its care needs. Most houseplant owners will find it moderate to difficult to grow at home compared to other plants. Luckily, this plant’s distinctive foliage makes its maintenance well worth the effort.
Alocasia Black Velvet Plant Meaning and Symbolism
The Black Velvet Alocasia doesn’t appear to have a significant spiritual or cultural meaning. However, plants within the genus Alocasia are sometimes referred to as ‘the tree that grows up to the heavens.’
Funny enough, some believe Alocasias are the plant referenced in the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk. Most versions of the story describe qualities that Alocasias have, like large leaves and lengthy stems.
How to Grow Alocasia Black Velvet Plants at Home
Growth Expectations for Alocasia Black Velvet Plants
Your Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ will grow faster during the spring and summer and will likely become dormant during the winter months. This plant can reach slightly less than a foot tall with around an 18-inch spread.
Remember, your Black Velvet’s winter dormancy may mean it loses foliage. But there’s no need to worry, as new leaves will emerge during its growing season in spring and summer.
What to Do Before Planting
Before planting your Black Velvet Alocasia, you will need to find a spot where it can thrive. You will also want to gather all the necessary tools and materials.
Consider factors like light requirements, soil type, and moisture needs. For example, the Black Velvet Alocasia needs moderate to bright, indirect light. So, you’ll want to avoid locations that receive full, direct sunlight.
When it comes to tools and materials, you’ll want to collect items like a terracotta pot, houseplant fertilizer, and well-draining soil. We’ll list all of the tools you need to care for this plant in the Essential Tools section below.
Best Locations in the Home
When choosing a location for your Black Velvet plant, you’ll want to consider a few important factors.
This species needs plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. So, it will work well on a desk, side table, or surface that doesn’t come in direct contact with the sun’s rays.
The plant’s humidity needs make it a great candidate for bathroom or kitchen placement.
Additionally, you will want to make sure the Alocasia reginula is out of reach of children and pets. It is toxic if consumed, so place it on an elevated surface away from little ones and furry friends.
You’ll also want to ensure the Black Velvet Alocasia is in a spot away from gusts of air. The plant doesn’t like drafts of any temperature.
What’s the Best Soil Mix?
The Alocasia reginula prefers coarse, well-draining soil. This plant’s roots need access to plenty of oxygen, and coarser soil helps meet this need. To improve drainage, you can add ingredients like perlite and orchid bark to a traditional potting mix.
This species likes soil that is slightly acidic with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.
How to Plant Alocasia Black Velvet Plants
Now, it’s time to plant your new Black Velvet Alocasia. Here are the steps to take when planting this species as an indoor plant.
- Before planting your Black Velvet Alocasia, create a soil blend with perlite, orchid bark, and standard potting mix. If you prefer, you can use other coarse materials to make the mix, like pumice, sand, or wood chips.
- Choose a slightly larger planter than this plant’s root ball, as it likes to be somewhat root-bound. A plastic container with drainage holes will work well.
- Place your soil mix at the base of the container. You want enough soil to lift the plant to the same depth as it did in the original planter.
- Place the plant into this new container. Fill any gaps with your soil mix so the plant is stable in the pot and the root ball is covered.
Alocasia Black Velvet Light Preferences
Your Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ will prefer medium to bright indirect light. So, you may consider placing it on a desk or surface that receives plenty of light throughout the day. Be sure to help this plant avoid direct sunlight, as this can burn its foliage.
Temperature and Humidity Preferences
Given its origins on the jungle floors of Borneo, your Black Velvet plant will do best in temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 Fahrenheit or more. It will enjoy humidity from 50 to 75 percent, so you may consider placement in the bathroom or kitchen.
How to Care for Alocasia Black Velvet at Home
Watering Alocasia Black Velvet Plants
Now, it may take some trial and error to perfect your Alocasia’s watering schedule. It likes to be watered when just the top two inches of soil are dry. So, depending on the conditions, you may water the plant around once per week during the growing season.
Remember, this plant’s moisture needs will change in the cooler months. Decrease your frequency in the winter, testing to ensure the top two inches are dry before watering.
Additionally, this species is sensitive to minerals. It will thank you for using filtered water for its hydration needs.
Fertilizing Your Black Velvet Alocasia
The Black Velvet Alocasia only requires minimal fertilization. You can satisfy its feeding requirements by using an all-purpose fertilizer. Dilute it to half or quarter-strength and fertilize about once a month during the growing season.
Pruning Alocasia Black Velvet
You may want to prune your Black Velvet plant if you notice a wilted or discolored leaf. You can do this by taking clean scissors or shears and cutting the leaf’s stem right at the base of the plant.
Propagating Alocasia Black Velvet
You can propagate your Alocasia reginula by rhizome division, seed, or offsets. The most common way is to propagate by offsets, and here’s how to do it.
- Remove the offset you want to propagate from your original plant. Cut its stem with a sharp, clean knife or shears at the base of the main plant.
- Place this offset in a small pot in the same type of soil the original Alocasia grows in.
- Make sure this soil stays moist until this new plant takes root.
- Once it has formed roots, repot the new plant and adjust its watering schedule as needed.
When and How to Repot Alocasia Black Velvet Plants
This plant enjoys being slightly root-bound. However, if its roots are growing out from the drainage hole, you may want to repot your Black Velvet plant. It’s a good idea to assess whether this plant needs repotting every year or two.
Repot using our guide in the How to Plant section above. Use a planter that is only one or two inches larger than the previous container.
Common Alocasia Black Velvet Problems and How to Treat Them
Signs of Watering Issues
If you’re overwatering this plant, it may develop root rot. Use clean scissors to cut all affected roots and repot the plant in clean soil.
If you’re underwatering Alocasia ‘Black Velvet,’ its leaves may wilt or droop. Adjust its watering cycle to ensure only the top two inches of soil are dry while the rest is slightly moist.
Signs Your Plant is Getting Too Much Light
This plant’s leaves may burn if it gets too much light. If you notice scorched edges, move your Alocasia to a spot where it won’t come into direct contact with the sun.
Signs of Temperature Issues
If this plant’s environment is too cold, it may become stressed and go dormant. Make sure its living conditions aren’t below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If you suspect the plant is dormant, reduce its watering cycle until the growing cycle begins again in spring.
Why Alocasia Leaves Are Curling
Typically, an Alocasia’s leaves will curl if it is receiving too much water. Adjust the plant’s watering schedule, ensuring the top two inches of soil are dry before you water the plant.
Why Alocasia Leaves Turn Brown or Yellow
Your Alocasia plant may turn yellow or brown if its environmental requirements aren’t met. It may not be getting the right amount of sunlight or water, or its environment could be too cold. Assess these factors and adjust your plant’s living conditions as needed.
Common Alocasia Black Velvet Pests and Diseases
If you notice a white, fluffy material on your Alocasia, that may be mealybugs. Dip a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and use that to remove the bugs.
Mix some rubbing alcohol with dish soap to use as a spray. Treat with this mixture one time per week until the infestation has subsided.
If your Alocasia plant becomes too dry, it might develop a spider mite infestation.
If you notice these small mites and their webs, remove them as soon as possible. You may want to treat the plant with neem oil or insecticidal soap. Rinsing the plant occasionally can help avoid another infestation.
Essential Tools to Have Around
Here are the tools you’ll want to have on hand for Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ care.
- Soil probe or moisture meter if preferred
- Watering can
- Scissors or shears
- Gloves to handle the plant
- All-purpose fertilizer
- Potting mix
- Ingredients like orchid bark and perlite for drainage
- Plastic pot with drainage hole
The Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ is a great choice for adding texture and drama to your home’s decor. It may have particular care needs, but it’s worth the learning curve to grow this Alocasia variety at home. Take the time to understand this plant’s ideal growing conditions and enjoy the striking focal point it brings to any space.
Growing Alocasia Black Velvet Plant FAQs
Is Alocasia Black Velvet an indoor plant?
Yes, Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ is suitable for growing indoors.
How often should I water my Alocasia Black Velvet?
Water your Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ around once a week in the growing season and reduce frequency in the winter. Only water your Black Velvet Alocasia when the top two inches of soil have dried out.
Should I mist my Alocasia Black Velvet?
Yes, you should mist your Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ plant if the humidity in its environment is lower than around 50 percent.
Does Alocasia Black Velvet grow fast?
Yes, Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ will grow fast during its growing season.
Is black velvet Alocasia rare?
Yes, Black Velvet Alocasia is considered rare. However, tissue culture experts have discovered ways to propagate the plant. So, it is becoming more widely available in shops and nurseries.
Does Alocasia black velvet like to be root bound?
Yes, alocasia black velvet will prefer to be slightly root-bound rather than living in an oversized container.