Alocasia Black Velvet (Alocasia Reginula)
Who doesn't love a good dark indoor plant? One of our favorites is the Black Velvet Alocasia (Alocasia Reginula) from the Araceae (same as philodendron) family because it never fails to leave a lasting impression. With its velvety black leaves and unique characteristics, this beauty has become a sought-after houseplant among enthusiasts. In this article, we'll delve into the origins, intriguing features, and care tips for the enigmatic Alocasia Black Velvet.
According to Gerald Klingaman (retired) of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, "Black Velvet Alocasia is one of several species of alocasias native in the Southeast Asia, with this plant probably coming from the jungles of Borneo. It and its kin were collected during the 1860s by English plant collectors
who scoured the jungles of the world looking for new orchids and houseplants"
The Black Velvet is a unique Alocasia as it forms a branched rhizomatous stem which grows up to 18 inches wide and typically less than one foot high. The heart-shaped oval leaves are thick & brittle, showcase a velvety black with contrasting platinum colored veins and a purplish underside.
While typical plants absorb red & blue light from the visible light spectrum, they reflect green & yellow. Meaning, the green/yellow portion of the light spectrum that is not used by the plant is reflected back to us. On the other hand, black plants absorb light energy across the entire visible light spectra, allowing none to be reflected back. Meanwhile, the white veins reflect almost all of the visible light.
According to Gerald Klingaman (retired) of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, " But this velvety blackness is just an illusion, for if you crush the leaf, the familiar green of chlorophyll issues forth. In their low-light environment black-leaved plants must have made the evolutionary assumption that all light energy is good, thus hoarding light rays..."
Light Requirements: The Black Velvet Alocasia thrives in bright, indirect light. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight as it can scorch the leaves. A north or east-facing window is ideal, providing the plant with the right balance of light intensity.
Temperature and Humidity: Maintain a warm and humid environment for your Black Velvet Alocasia. It prefers temperatures between 65°F and 80°F (18°C and 27°C). Avoid exposing the plant to sudden temperature fluctuations or cold drafts. Place it in a location with moderate humidity, or use a humidifier or pebble tray to increase moisture levels around the plant.
Watering: Proper watering is crucial for the health of your Alocasia Black Velvet. Water the plant thoroughly when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Ensure that excess water drains away, as the plant is susceptible to root rot if left sitting in waterlogged soil. Avoid overwatering or allowing the soil to become completely dry between waterings.
Soil and Potting: Use a well-draining potting mix to ensure healthy root growth. A mixture of peat moss, perlite, and a small amount of orchid bark or sand works well. Be sure to check out our affiliate Rosy Soil who offers earth positive living soil for indoor plants! Choose a pot with drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom. Repot the Black Velvet Alocasia every one to two years or when it becomes root-bound.
Fertilization: Feed your Alocasia Black Velvet with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength. Apply the fertilizer every two to four weeks during the growing season (spring and summer). Reduce or stop fertilization during the dormant period in fall and winter.
Pruning: Trim away any yellow or damaged leaves to maintain the plant's overall health and appearance. Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to make clean cuts. Take care to avoid cutting into the stem or other healthy parts of the plant.
Pests and Diseases: Watch out for common houseplant pests such as aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs. Regularly inspect your Black Velvet Alocasia for signs of infestation, such as sticky residue, webbing, or tiny insects. Treat any pest problems promptly with organic or chemical insecticides, following the instructions on the product label.
Propagation: Propagation of the Alocasia Black Velvet can be done through division or stem cuttings. Divide the plant during repotting by carefully separating the rhizomes and ensuring each division has a healthy root system. Alternatively, take stem cuttings with at least one node and place them in a moist, well-draining potting mix. Provide warmth and humidity to encourage root development.
The Black Velvet Alocasia is not just a houseplant; it's a conversation starter, a living piece of art that adds a touch of intrigue to any indoor space. Its velvety black leaves, contrasting veins, and unique growth pattern make it a sought-after beauty among plant enthusiasts. By understanding its origins, intriguing features, and following the care guidelines we've provided, you can cultivate this enigmatic plant with confidence and appreciation.
Imagine the visual impact of the Black Velvet Alocasia, standing tall in a corner, its dark foliage casting an air of mystery and elegance. It invites admiration and sparks curiosity, leaving an unforgettable impression on anyone who encounters it. From its historical journey collected by intrepid plant hunters to its captivating ability to absorb light energy, this plant is truly a marvel of nature.
Remember, the Black Velvet Alocasia thrives in bright, indirect light and appreciates a warm, humid environment. Proper watering, well-draining soil, and occasional pruning will ensure its health and vitality. Embrace the opportunity to propagate and share its beauty with others, as this unique plant offers the chance to expand your plant collection or even create thoughtful gifts for fellow plant lovers.
So, whether you're a seasoned plant enthusiast or just starting your indoor gardening journey, the Black Velvet Alocasia is a must-have addition to your collection. Its striking appearance and enigmatic nature will continue to captivate and inspire you as you nurture and appreciate this remarkable houseplant.
Klingaman, Gerald. “Plant of the Week: Black Velvet Alocasia.” Black Velvet Alocasia, 23 Aug. 2002, https://www.uaex.uada.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/black-velvet-alocasia.aspx. Accessed 21 June 2023.