Alocasia Black Velvet is a houseplant classic for a reason: it’s one of the most beautiful, near-black foliage plants you can grow.
It instantly steals the attention from other houseplants, making a dramatic focal point that you won’t regret caring for.
It also helps that this plant is simple to grow, even if you’re a beginner when it comes to growing Alocasia plants.
Interested in growing your own Alocasia Black Velvet? Not sure if this plant is for you? Let’s take a look at what you need to know.
Alocasia Black Velvet Care
Alocasia Black Velvet is a more compact Alocasia than most, and it’s also slow-growing, but the almost black leaves make a fabulous sight in any room.
While this plant is smaller, it’s not necessarily any easier to care for than other Alocasia species, but it does help that its compact form means it can be grown in a terrarium or miniature greenhouse (see also Alocasia Bambino Care Tips).
Like many Alocasia plants, this one will go into dormancy if the conditions are wrong (see also How To Make Alocasia Frydek Thrive), so it’s worth trying to recreate its native tropical conditions as closely as possible, providing lots of light, humidity, and warmth.
Sunlight And Position
Alocasia Black Velvet is a little particular when it comes to light, more so than other Alocasia species that can, with some patience, be acclimatized to higher light levels.
Alocasia Black Velvet needs bright and indirect light, preferably in an Eastern-facing or Northern-facing window.
Morning sunlight will give the plant everything it needs to thrive, as well as prevent leggy growth.
Without enough light, your Alocasia Black Velvet will simply not produce its luxurious, deep green.
As for temperatures, keep them above 70°F for optimal growth, keeping this plant somewhere where temperatures don’t fluctuate wildly.
Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Alocasia Prolonged Sunlight
Alocasia Black Velvet, like many Alocasia plants, are used to low light levels in their native conditions (see also Alocasia Regal Shield Care), as they grow on the floor of jungles, so giving them more than a few hours of direct sunlight will burn the leaves.
Keep light bright and indirect for the most part, but morning sunlight is gentle enough not to do any damage to the delicate leaves.
Ideal Soil For Alocasia
Alocasia plants hate dense soil (see also Alocasia Silver Dragon Plant Guide) that gets boggy when watered, so try to avoid using a dense houseplant mix where possible.
Instead, opt for a well-draining, loose compost mix. You could use a generic houseplant mix if you adapt it, by adding equal parts of orchid bark and perlite to the mix.
This helps aerate the compost, strengthening the root system, while diverting excess moisture away from the roots.
Avoid coco coir or peat moss in high concentrations, as these tend to hold onto moisture a little too much.
When To Water Alocasia Black Velvet
Can You Bottom Water Alocasia Plants?
Preferably not, no. While bottom watering can help avoid stem rot (where water gets into the delicate stem of an Alocasia and rots the plant), it can cause root rot.
This is especially important when it comes to Alocasia Black Velvet, as it is a smaller species, it is more prone to over watering as it doesn’t need as much irrigation as its larger relatives.
Never let this plant sit in water!
Always water the top of the soil, watering all the surface you can reach, as close to the surface as you can.
Water your plant deeply, and allow the top quarter of the compost to dry out before you water the plant again.
Exactly when this will be depends on the unique growing conditions within your home, so make a habit of checking the soil regularly.
In winter, you can get away with about half the compost drying out, but again, don’t let the compost completely dry out, as this will trigger dormancy in your Alocasia Black Velvet.
Ideal Humidity Levels For Alocasia Black Velvet
Alocasia Black Velvet needs higher humidity levels for lush growth. Aim for levels above 50% to keep this plant happy, and remember, when you raise the humidity, you also need to raise the air circulation, otherwise, you can get fungal problems on your plants.
Creating a humid environment that’s at least 50% can be difficult to achieve without a humidifier, or the plant being in an enclosed environment such as a greenhouse cabinet, so this is worth keeping in mind.
Put Down That Mister!
It is a myth that misting helps keep plants humid. It keeps them wet, which is not exactly the same thing.
Yes, misting does increase humidity – for about a second or two – and then that excess moisture sits on the leaves and can create problems. It does nothing for the surrounding air.
When To Feed An Alocasia Black Velvet
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that fertilizer can help speed up a natural growth rate, in this case, the slow and steady rate that Alocasia Black Velvet puts out new growth.
Alocasia Black Velvet does benefit from the occasional boost of nutrients, so you can feed the plant every fourth watering during the growing season.
Use a balanced, good-quality liquid fertilizer for this, and make sure you follow the dosage instructions on the label.
Don’t be tempted to eyeball it, as this can lead to problems!
How To Plant Alocasia Corms
If you prefer, you can grow Alocasia Black Velvet from corms, which is cheaper than buying an established plant, but it is a little more effort, and there is some patience involved!
Plant your Alocasia corms during early spring. While some people will plant corms straight into compost, you’ll usually have better luck by putting them into water.
If you have a very small jar or shot glass, this is perfect. Always leave the tip of the corm above the water line to stop it from rotting.
Move the pot somewhere bright and warm, out of direct sunlight.
Put a clear plastic bag or another glass over the corm, sealing in the humidity. It will take some time for the corm to produce roots, so don’t give up on it. As long as it is still firm to the touch, it is still healthy.
Once the corm has produced both roots and its first leaf, you can plant it up in an appropriate compost.
Always try growing more than one corm at a time, as not all of them will make it.
Can You Propagate Alocasia Black Velvet?
You can propagate your Alocasia Black Velvet, but probably not in the way you’d imagine. Stem cuttings and leaf cuttings unfortunately do not work for this plant, as they don’t contain the right cells to make new plants.
So you’ll have to propagate a little differently than what you are used to. As the plant grows, it will produce more corms and even some plantlets.
If you want to propagate the plantlets, wait until they are at least half the size of the mother plant before you propagate them, otherwise, they are unlikely to survive the shock of being separated.
Gently separate the plantlets from the mother plant, keeping the corms and some of the roots intact on both. Plant up the plantlets as separate plants.
To propagate the corms, wait until your plant needs repotting, as you’ll be getting the plant out of the pot anyway. Water the plant about an hour before you repot to loosen the soil as well as the roots.
You’ll see lots of roots, and one large corm where the main plant is growing from, as well as a couple of smaller corms.
Gently remove the smaller corms with your fingers or a clean and sharp knife, making sure that you keep the corms whole.
Follow the process above for planting corms, and repot your original plant into fresh compost, upsizing the pot if your plant still needs more room.
Common Problems To Watch Out For
Alocasia plants can be a little fussy, and if you don’t get the conditions right, your plant will soon protest!
Here are some of the most common problems you might encounter when growing Alocasia Black Velvet.
If the leaves on your Alocasia Black Velvet are curling up or crinkling at the edges, this suggests that your plant is either getting too dry, or it’s getting more direct sunlight or warmth than it needs.
Check the moisture levels in the soil. If moisture is not the issue, it’s likely that the plant is in a spot that’s too bright for it.
If the leaves on your Alocasia Black Velvet are yellowing, this usually means there is a moisture problem.
For the most part, more than one leaf turning yellow at a time is a sign that your Alocasia Black Velvet is getting too much water too often, and you need to scale back the watering or sharpen up the compost’s drainage.
Check the soil with your finger to confirm. If it’s wet to the touch, don’t water it for a little while, at least until the top inch dries out.
If it’s soaking wet, repot your plant into slightly damp, well-draining soil.
Leaves Dying Back
The leaves dying back altogether is usually a sign the plant is going into dormancy, and this can happen even in spring or summer if the conditions aren’t right.
As long as the corm is still firm, your plant is still alive. Let it go dormant for a week or two if it’s the growing season, then try to improve conditions including light, temperature, humidity, and water.
Your plant will soon bounce back.
If your Alocasia Black Velvet has been wet for too long, and the soil is struggling to dry out, the roots will eventually become damaged, leaving them vulnerable to rot, and preventing them from taking up essential nutrients and water that the plant needs.
Often, once you see signs of root rot above the soil line, it is difficult to fix, and the plant is too far gone.
It’s always worth a try, though. So as long as the corms aren’t squishy or mushy when you squeeze them gently, repot into slightly damp soil, taking care to trim off any black or mushy roots.
Brown Leaf Tips
Brown leaf tips are not the most common problem with Alocasia Black Velvet, but it is something worth looking out for.
This can mean that you’re not watering the plant properly – where you’re either giving it a trickle of water each time, and not hydrating all the roots, or, you’re not watering it often enough.
If the watering regime is right, and nothing else in the growing conditions has changed, brown leaf tips can be caused by too much feed, or, not flushing out the fertilizer salts from the soil.
Scale back the feeding schedule, and flush the compost with distilled water to get rid of any build-up.
For the most part, Alocasia Black Velvet is fairly untroubled by pests, but one you do have to be aware of is spider mites.
Spider mites will tend to zero in on your plant when the surrounding air is too dry for your Alocasia Black Velvet, so try to keep it somewhere with higher humidity, and this will benefit its general health, too.
Alocasia Black Velvet Dormancy
When light and temperatures dip in winter, your Alocasia Black Velvet will respond by going dormant.
The leaves will die back one by one, and you should scale back the watering, as the soil will take longer to dry out but try not to let the compost dry out completely.
Don’t feed your Alocasia Black Velvet when it’s dormant to allow it to rest. Once light levels and temperatures get higher, your plant will start growing again, at which point you can resume its normal care.
It’s worth knowing that your plant can go dormant outside of winter if the growing conditions aren’t right.
Usually, this happens when the plant gets too dry, or light levels aren’t enough, so the plant goes dormant as a survival technique.
Improve light, temperature, humidity, and water, and your plant will soon wake up again.
How To Get Your Alocasia Black Velvet Looking Its Best
Alocasia Black Velvet is not a complicated plant, but if you know what the plant needs from the get-go, this goes a long way toward preventing problems and giving your plant the best care possible.
Here are a few tips and tricks to get the most out of this plant.
Keep It Out Of Reach!
It’s a good idea to keep your Alocasia Black Velvet somewhere that’s not a high-traffic area in your home.
Not just to keep it out of reach of pets and children, which helps prevent damage, but also to limit any drafts that can damage the plant.
It also makes sense to give the plant some space, as you don’t want to accidentally tear a leaf as you go past.
Consider Growing Alocasias In A Greenhouse Cabinet
There are many advantages to growing Alocasias in an enclosed environment: they are protected from drafts, sources of heat, cold temperatures, and lower humidity.
It’s much easier to grow these plants in an enclosed environment, as you can give them the higher humidity and warmth they require without altering a whole room!
You don’t even have to have a lot of space for this, either. A miniature greenhouse will do the trick for Alocasia Black Velvet, as it rarely gets taller than 18 inches.
As long as you air out the greenhouse or terrarium every so often and give the plant the right care, your plant will thrive.
Keeping your Alocasia Black Velvet in a greenhouse or terrarium is also a good idea to protect it from pets and children, not just against damage, but also because this plant is considered toxic, and the potential poisoning is not worth the risk.
Repot When Your Plant Is Root-Bound
Once your Alocasia Black Velvet roots start emerging from the drainage holes, your plant is looking for more space.
Don’t wait too long, as it will be more difficult to keep the plant hydrated and fed, and it can lead to brown leaf tips, too.
It’s much better to start off with a smaller pot and repot the plant as it gets bigger, as doing the opposite can lead to overwatering and fungal issues.
Only repot your plant during the growing season, and choose one size upward. Gently run your fingers through the edges of the roots, breaking up the rigid pot shape before planting your Alocasia Black Velvet into a new planter with fresh soil.
Summer It Outdoors
One of the best ways you can give your Alocasia Black Velvet a helping hand is to put it outdoors during summer.
But choose a spot that is sheltered and gets dappled light at the most, so your plant doesn’t burn.
It’s worth gradually introducing your Alocasia Black Velvet to the outdoors, only putting it outside for a few hours at a time to start with, in full shade.
Gradually increase the time and light, until it’s outdoors all the time within a shaded, sheltered position.
The increased light, airflow, and quality of water do wonders for houseplants. Don’t forget to check your plant for pests before you bring it back inside, and don’t leave the plant outside if cold weather is due, as Alocasias can’t handle the cold.
Scale Back Care In Winter
Don’t forget to scale back the care as the plant slows down. Keep it somewhere bright, but reduce the watering, and make sure you don’t feed the plant as it goes dormant.
It’s also a good idea to refrain from doing anything that would shock the plant at this point, such as repotting or propagating.
Clean The Leaves Regularly
Grab a damp, soft cloth or kitchen towel, and gently run it over the surface of the leaves, as well as the undersides.
Alocasia leaves can collect dust and dirt like nobody’s business as they are so large, so clearing them with a damp cloth every week or two weeks will help keep the capillaries clear and the plant healthy.
This also helps stop any pest infestations before they start, making for a much healthier plant in the long run!
As long as you can provide plenty of warmth, humidity, and indirect sunlight, Alocasia Black Velvet is easy to care for.
It’s much simpler to grow this plant in a miniature greenhouse if you can, as it will do the bulk of the care for you. You could also invest in a propagation mat, which will help keep your plant warm.
Avoid letting this plant get too dry or too wet, as it is susceptible to moisture issues, especially overwatering.