A darling of plant goths everywhere, the Alocasia Black Velvet plant is known for its vivid, dark green, almost black foliage.
Also known as Alocasia reginula, the black velvet Alocasia aren’t difficult to keep.
To learn more about this black beauty, check out the growing conditions outlined in the care guide below.
|Botanical Name||Alocasia reginula|
|Common Name||Dwarf Alocasia|
|Plant Type||Broad-leafed flowering perennial|
|Mature Size||20 inches|
|Sun Exposure||Medium to bright indirect light|
|Soil Type||Coarse, well-draining soil|
|Soil pH||5.5 to 6.5|
|Hardiness Zone||Zone 9; Zone 10a and above outdoors|
|Native Area||Southeast Asia|
|Toxicity||Toxic to cats, dogs, and people|
How to Care for the Alocasia Black Velvet
The key to developing a lush, healthy plant is providing the proper care. Because it is a tropical plant, the Alocasia Black Velvet care requires growing conditions similar to its native Southeast Asia to thrive.
Here are some of the growing conditions you should imitate to enjoy vigorous growth and healthy leaves in your Black Velvet plant.
Alocasia Black Velvet plants are tropical plants found on the forest floor below the jungle canopy.
The sunlight that wild Alocasia are exposed to is strong sunlight, but little of it actually reaches the forest floor.
Because of these native growing conditions, Black Velvet plants grown indoors do best when they are grown under bright indirect light so they can absorb light energy.
In houseplants, bright indirect sunlight is defined as light that is diffused or filtered before it is allowed to hit the leaves of the plant. Indoors, these conditions can be reproduced with the following methods:
- Placing sheer curtains over the window the Alocasia Black Velvet is placed in
- Blocking some of the incoming light with a piece of furniture
- Placing a taller plant in front of the Alocasia Black Velvet plant to filter some of the incoming bright light
What Happens if Alocasia Black Velvet Is Placed in Direct Sunlight?
The reason that Alocasia Black Velvet is suited to indirect light is that the direct sun will burn its delicate leaves. Signs of too much direct light and burned leaves in an Alocasia Black Velvet plant include dying leaves and leaves that are browning. The plant may also lose leaves.
If the leaves are starting to develop brown tips, try moving the Black Velvet plant into a more shaded area so that it doesn’t suffer from too much light.
Alocasia Black Velvet plants do best in a humid environment. So it’s a good idea to plan on watering your Black Velvet plant with high levels of humidity when 25-50% of the soil’s volume is dry.
To test the moisture of the soil, place the end of your finger in the soil and bury it for two inches. If no dampness is felt, the plant is soil dry and should be watered until water drains out the bottom of the pot. If dampness is felt, the plant does not need watering.
Even though making sure that Alocasia Black Velvet plants have plenty of water is important, it’s also vital to prevent overwatering since these plants are susceptible to root rot. In common terms, this is also known as giving the plant “wet feet.” Many plants that enjoy high moisture levels do not like growing in standing water, so provide adequate drainage from drainage holes.
How Often Should You Water Alocasia Black Velvet Plants?
The Alocasia Black Velvet plant should be watered roughly once a week since this plant enjoys a high degree of moisture. Along with watering the soil, Alocasia Black Velvet plants also enjoy having their leaves misted a few times a week. This can help keep the leaves lustrous and prevent a build-up of dust on the surface.
Should Alocasia Black Velvet Plants Be Watered From the Bottom?
It’s best to water Alocasia Black Velvet plants from the bottom, especially if the plant is well-established. If a potted Alocasia becomes root-bound, this can cause water from the top of the pot to run down the sides of the planter rather than soaking into the soil.
Alocasia Black Velvet plants do best with soil that imitates the conditions of its native soil: coarse, well-draining, and rich.
A good addition to the soil mix for Alocasia reginula is coco coir. This shredded coconut fiber helps aid with moisture retention while also providing high amounts of aeration and drainage. This helps keep the soil moist while preventing the soggy soil conditions that cause the roots to start rotting.
Here’s an example of a good potting mix for Alocasia Black Velvet care:
- One part rich organic soil
- One part coarse potting sand or perlite
- One part coco coir or peat
Using the above proportions will give you a homegrown potting mix that will provide plenty of drainage while also keeping your Alocasia moist between watering sessions.
If you don’t want to create your own potting mix, using a commercial potting soil designed for plants that grow in the tropics can also give you a good base to work from. Try choosing a granular potting soil mix that is high in potting sand and orchid bark to provide proper drainage.
Alocasia Black Velvet plants do well in a relatively wide range of temperatures. These plants thrive at suitable temperatures from 55 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. They do best at the higher end of this suitable range, with plants thriving at 70 to 80 degrees.
This makes Alocasia Black Velvet plants suitable for most households since they do well at average indoor temperatures. However, the lack of humidity in some indoor environments can cause problems with this tropical beauty.
Along with good soil and adequate temperatures, Alocasia Black Velvet does better in high humidity. This plant requires humidity levels of 60-70%, which is significantly higher than the humidity found in most households.
Low humidity can cause several problems with Alocasia Black Velvet care that include the following:
- Curling leaf tips
- Stiff texture
- Crispy leaf tips
- Crispy edges on leaves
Low humidity can hurt the looks of the Alocasia Black Velvet plant, and it can also make the plant more susceptible to disease and pests. To keep the humidity of the Alocasia Black Velvet care at a proper level, try these methods:
- Add a humidifier to the room. Using a humidifier in the room where you keep your tropical houseplants can help keep the humidity in the room at a consistently higher level, making all of your high humidity plants more healthy.
- Use a pebble tray. Place your Alocasia Black Velvet pot on a shallow tray of pebbles and pour water into the tray. As the water in the pebble tray evaporates, it will increase the humidity directly around the Alocasia.
- Mist the leaves. Misting the leaves of the Alocasia Black Velvet plant several times a week can keep the plant moist without resulting in overly moist soil. Use distilled water for misting to prevent the build-up of mineral deposits on the plant leaves.
Humidity can be one of the more difficult factors to control consistently with tropical plants. Buying a hygrometer to measure the humidity in the air can give you a better idea of what humidity you’re keeping your plants at so you can adjust it accordingly.
Since the Alocasia Black Velvet plant is a slow-growing plant, it only requires moderate fertilization. Fertilize the Alocasia once a month to help this plant get all the nutrition it needs.
Use the fertilizer at half-strength if you’re using a basic houseplant fertilizer to prevent the plant from developing fertilizer burn. Too much fertilizer can also cause fertilizer burn, so measure it out carefully.
How to Grow Alocasia Black Velvet
Alocasia reginula plants can be purchased as juvenile plants (called “pups”) or adult plants. However, if you want to propagate Alocasia Black Velvet plants, you also have the option of growing them from a bulb. These plants are easiest to propagate during their main growing season from spring through summer.
Once you have an Alocasia Black Velvet bulb, perform the following to get them planted:
- Plant the Alocasia bulb directly into rich, well-draining soil. Provide potting soil with a high ratio of perlite or potting sand to promote aeration and drainage, as Alocasia bulbs are vulnerable to rotting in wet conditions.
- Cover the bulb with a cloche or glass lid. Covering the pot with the bulb in it with a cloche can help prevent moisture loss and keep the bulb from drying out. Increasing the humidity in the pot can help the bulb grow without exposing it to root rot from too much water in the soil.
- Look for new growth. The bulb will develop roots before it begins to put out its first leaf. Be patient and consistent with growing conditions, since it may take up to three weeks for an Alocasia Black Velvet bulb to start developing.
Alocasia Black Velvet Propagation/Steps
Alocasia reginula plants can’t be propagated from cuttings like some houseplants, but they reproduce readily at home from a mother plant when they’re cared for properly. Use these steps to propagate your mature Alocasia Black Velvet plant:
- Identify the central rhizome. To find offset rhizomes on the Alocasia, dig gently at the base of the plant to expose the tubers and roots underneath. The plant should have one large base rhizome, with several smaller tubers leading off of it.
- Remove the offset rhizomes. To grow new Alocasia from your original plant, take the bulbs attached to the base of the plant and sever them with a pinch of your thumb or with a sharp clean knife. Each of these bulbs is capable of becoming its own Alocasia.
- Plant the bulbs. Once the Alocasia bulbs have been separated from the main plant, they can be replanted in new containers to expand into new, full-grown plants.
As with mature Alocasia reginula plants, Alocasia bulbs require high levels of humidity and warm temperatures to grow successfully. Do not allow the bulbs to become overly wet or dry out, since this can kill the bulb and prevent the onset of new growth.
Common Problems with Alocasia Black Velvet
Even though Alocasia is a hardy plant, there are some common problems that you might run into when caring for a Black Velvet.
Common pests of the Alocasia Black Velvet include thrips, springtails, and spider mites. Spider mites are the most common pest found on Alocasia, but because of their toxicity, these plants are relatively pest-resistant.
Spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions, so making sure your Black Velvet has adequate moisture and humidity can go a long way towards preventing a spider mite infestation.
An easy way to correct and prevent pests in your indoor plant is to wipe down the plant with a neem oil solution. Along with driving away insect invaders, neem oil can help your plant’s dark velvety leaves look supple and shining.
A common problem that growers run into with Alocasia Black Velvet leaves is leaf curling or browning. These problems are the result of a low humidity location, so if you notice them, you should look at the humidity levels around your plant as well as the level of moisture in the soil.
Another problem that growers might notice is yellowing or drooping leaves. This can be either an indication that the plant needs more moisture if the soil is dry.
However, if the soil is wet, drooping and yellowing leaves can be a sign of the roots rotting. Adjusting the level of moisture in the soil and adding more drainage material such as potting sand or perlite can help prevent this issue.
By far the biggest problem that growers run into with the roots of the Alocasia Black Velvet plant is root rot. If the roots are rotting, it means there is too much moisture in the soil around the roots of the plant. This can cause the plant to effectively suffocate, causing the roots to die and rot in the soil. This systemic rotting can ultimately spread to other parts of the plant and kill it.
The easiest way to prevent the root from rotting is to water the Alocasia a reasonable amount. These tropical plants can be killed just as easily by watering too much as they can from not watering them enough.
Another common mistake that leads to roots rotting is placing houseplants in a pot that has no holes for drainage, causing water to build up at the base of the pot and drown the roots.
To avoid this, buy pots with pre-made drainage holes or use a drill to create your own so that excess water can drain away from the roots. Be sure to place the pot over a planter tray to prevent water from spilling out onto the furniture or floor.
Alocasia Black Velvet Tips
Even though Alocasia reginula plants aren’t difficult to keep, following some basic tips for their care can help prevent any problems with the plant before they spiral out of control. Here are some tricks for getting the most out of your Alocasia Black Velvet plant:
- Choose a large enough pot. Choosing a pot size that is too small for your Alocasia can cause the plant to become slightly root-bound. This makes it more difficult for the plant to forage adequate nutrition to grow and can make it more difficult for the plant to absorb water correctly, leading to moisture-related problems.
- Keep plants away from pets. Like all Alocasia plants, the Alocasia Black Velvet plant is toxic to dogs and cats. Keep these plants on a windowsill where animals can’t chew on them, or keep the plants stored in a room where housepets are not permitted.
- Water Alocasia plants less in the winter. Winter is a dormant season for Alocasia, so it uses less water and the water evaporates less quickly. Alocasia should only require water every 2-3 weeks in the winter as long as the environmental humidity is maintained.
The Alocasia Black Velvet is known as one of the jewel alocasia plants. This Alocasia is considered somewhat rare compared to the more common dark green velvet alocasia plants found in greenhouses and nurseries, but it can still sometimes be found for sale locally.
The most convenient way to purchase a quality jewel alocasia plant if you can’t find one locally is to find a nursery online that grows them and have the young plant or bulbs shipped to you.
The Alocasia Black Velvet is considered a miniature Alocasia plant, and it is naturally slow-growing. Alocasia Black Velvet plants can reach a height of around twenty inches, but this can take several months or even years of consistent care.
Alocasia Black Velvet plants have dark thick leaves with silvery veins, but poor moisture conditions can cause the leaves on the plant to go yellow. This is often a sign of root rot from standing water in the pot. Root rot can also be determined by smelling the potting soil. If the potting soil has a decayed, fetid, or rotting smell, this can also be a symptom of root rot.
Although it isn’t frequent, Alocasia Black Velvet will bloom in optimal growing conditions. If you find flower buds on your Black Velvet, this is a clear indication that the plant is happy and healthy. After an Alocasia Black Velvet flowers, it develops a bunch of new bulbs and can be easily propagated.
Alocasia Black Velvet plants are similar in caretaking to other alocasia plants, but their dramatic dark leaves will make a serious impact in any indoor garden. Maintaining good soil, temperature, lighting, and humidity for these tropical gems can keep them looking good for years.