The Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ – known also as the Alocasia Reginula – is a miniature Alocasia known for its stunning foliage. It gets its name from the dark velvety appearance of the leaves, which are offset by the striking white veins.
Like many variants of Alocasia, the ‘Black Velvet’ needs a special care regimen, and can sometimes be a little particular. The good thing is that once you know the main aspects, you will be able to manage this beautiful little plant just fine.
- 1 Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ Care
- 2 Common Problems with the Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’
- 3 Frequently asked questions about Alocasia Black Velvet
Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ Care
This tropical plant requires a temperature range that approaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit, approaching 80 degrees Fahrenheit in summer. Humidity will need to be monitored – anything less than 50% and the plant will suffer. Ideal humidity levels are around 65%.
Soil will need to be well draining but be able to maintain a degree of moisture, and watering should be light but frequent. This little Alocasia needs bright but indirect sunlight – too much and the risk of sunburn to the leaves is high.
Found in the lush rainforests of Asia, the Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ is specifically native to the Borneo jungle environment. As such, in the wild it is exposed to dappled or shaded light under the canopies. You will want to recreate this environment as best you can for your ‘Black Velvet’ Alocasia.
The best way to do this in the home environment is to place it in a sunny room but away from the window, so that it receives bright but indirect sunlight. Be careful of direct light or how the sun approaches your windows at different times of the year as any sudden exposure can damage the leaves.
For watering, the same principles need to be applied in order to ensure the Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ feels at home. You want to recreate the natural environment. For this tiny plant, this means being watered lightly but regularly.
This is important in order to keep the soil constantly moist without becoming waterlogged. You can achieve this by ensuring you are watering lightly and holding back if you feel the soil is becoming dense with water.
The soil conditions too will need to support the particular needs of this exotic plant. You need a soil that can retain moisture but without becoming water logged. Make your own mix to suit your Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ by combining standard potting soil with peat or sand.
That will give it the consistency it needs to facilitate good drainage. This is key, as whilst the Alocasia species enjoys moist soil, it can also be susceptible to root rot if exposed to excessive water for prolonged periods.
The Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ craves warmth, especially in the summer months. So, temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal. In the summer, it really wants to be in an environment that approaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Be careful with lower temperatures, below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the plant will go dormant. Extremely low temperatures will damage its growth.
The Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ does flower on occasion, although this is not the main reason for purchasing the plant. The Alocasia species is prized for its beautiful leaves, and none are perhaps as striking as those on the Black Velvet.
So dark they are almost purple, the leaves are the key feature. So flowering is usually a side event, and the flower is usually unspectacular anyway. Many Alocasia owners remove the flower at the first sign, as it can cause the plant to divert energy from the leaves for a while.
One of the key factors you need to monitor if you have an Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ is the level of humidity in your home. This is a tropical plant, at home in the rainforests, and so it requires high levels of humidity. This means, levels that are at least 60%, but ideally the plant is most comfortable at around 70% humidity.
This can be a challenge for you, especially during the winter months, as the air usually becomes quite arid if you are using radiators.
Help your plant by placing it in a more humid environment – such as the bathroom – and mist the leaves regularly. If it is struggling you may need to consider a humidifier.
The Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ is best propagated by the division of the underground rhizome system. In the wild, these will grow out from the mother plant to around 20 centimeters below the ground.
Of course, your containerized Black Velvet will likely have a smaller rhizome system, and it is from these that you will need to propagate. It is also possible to propagate the Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ from seeds, however this is a slow process. The rhizome splitting method will give you faster results.
To begin, ensure it is the right time for propagation. Doing it in the winter, when the plant is dormant, will not bring any success. Wait until spring is showing its first signs, then get ready.
Take your Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ from its pot and gently shake off the extra soil around the roots. At this point, you should take the opportunity to check the root system of the mother plant is in good condition and not showing any signs of fungal infections or entanglement.
Next, inspect the rhizome system. These look like clumps of ginger, and you will be able to see where the best place is to cut them. Use a clean knife or cutting instrument – and ensure you are wearing gloves – to remove the rhizome of your choice.
Next, it is time to plant it. You need a potting mix that will create the conditions the new plant needs in order to thrive. Mixing standard potting mix with coco coir is a good option.
Once ready, place your rhizome into the soil and give it a light drink. Place your new plant in an area that gets bright but indirect sunlight. Then, follow the same regimen you have for the mother plant.
It is good practice, once a year, to check your plant to see if it needs to be repotted. Even if it doesn’t, it is a good opportunity to check the soil and the root system, to verify if the plant is getting cramped or not. Lift it out gently, and if the roots are restricted or if they were poking through the drainage, it is time to graduate your plant up a pot size.
The Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ is a little mini Alocasia! The maximum height it will grow will not be more than 50 centimeters, although 30 centimeters is the norm. Leaves can reach about 8 – 12 centimeters.
So you won’t find the Black Velvet taking over your living space. If you have a bigger room to fill, such as one with vaulted ceilings or a large hall, the Alocasia ‘Dark Star’ may be one to consider.
The Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ is toxic to both animals and humans. So, you need to keep it away from any animal or child that is likely to try to explore it. When handling the plant, especially during propagation, make sure you wear gloves.
Watch out for signs and symptoms of inhalation or exposure. This would likely include burning or tingling, swelling of the airways and in extreme cases death. If you think there has been an exposure in your household make sure you contact a vet or doctor promptly.
Common Problems with the Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’
Following this care guide will take you a long way to keeping your Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ happy. But, the plant can be known to be a little fussy, so it is key you know how to address any problems quickly.
Luckily, the majority of them are easy to fix and cause only temporary damage to the leaves. But, since the leaves are the prize feature, this can be upsetting for collectors. Let’s look at the main issues that the Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ can experience and how to address them.
Crisping or curling leaves can be a sign of either under watering or low humidity. Check firstly that the soil is maintaining a degree of moisture. If not, you need to increase your watering regimen. If the soil is indeed moist enough, then check on the humidity levels in your home.
Levels at under 60% would be too low, and can mean that the plant is not able to replace the moisture lost through the leaves. Try misting the leaves daily or moving the plant to a more humid location such as a bathroom
Low light levels
The Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’, like other Alocasia variants, will ‘search for light’. If it is not getting adequate levels, then it will start to droop down at the stem in a bid to search for it.
This can make your plant look misshapen and sad. Make sure you have your Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ as close to the window as possible without it being in direct sunlight.
Root Rot and Overwatering
If your plant is wilting, looking insecure in the pot or soft around the base, you will need to check for root rot. This is a problem common to many plants, and is caused by too much water content in the soil.
This seals up the air pockets and saturates the roots, which in turn mean they don’t absorb any water. The damp environment gives rise to fungal infections which, if not treated properly, will likely result in the death of the plant.
Make sure the soil is moist but not saturated, that there is no water pooling in the soil and that you do not let the plant sit in a plate of water.
Insects and pests
The Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ can also get its fair share of unwanted visitors. Mealy bugs are one of the most common pests to be found on the plant. They breach the protective outer layer of the plant and feast on the plants nutrients. Apart from causing the leaves to look unsightly, they can also spread infections.
If you notice white spots forming on the leaves you should also check for spider mites. Take action to remove any signs of infestation. You can start by trying to hose or rinse them off, or using a soapy water mix. If that doesn’t work you may need to use a light pesticide.
Frequently asked questions about Alocasia Black Velvet
Why are the leaves on my Alocasia Black Velvet crispy?
This is usually related to the humidity levels in the home. The leaves lose water during the day at different rates, depending on how humid the room is.
If the environment is particularly arid – for the Alocasia, arid means any levels less than 60% – then the roots won’t be able to replace the water lost quickly enough. Check the humidity levels and rectify if necessary, try misting the leaves and make sure the plant is getting adequate water.
My Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ isn’t flowering. Why?
If you are looking for a flowering plant, the Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ might not be the one for you. Whilst the plant does flower on occasion, the display is often unspectacular and often occurs at the detriment of the leaves.
For that reason, many Alocasia lovers prefer the plant not to flower. Flowering will happen when the plant is in optimal conditions, but is not guaranteed. So, don’t hang your hat on this plant bringing you flowers and focus on the beautiful leaves as the main attraction instead.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.