How To Grow A Happy Alocasia Black Velvet (Care Guide)
Commonly a favorite among houseplant enthusiasts, the Alocasia “Black Velvet” is a beautiful and compact plant known for its eye-catching foliage. Native to the jungles of Borneo in Southeast Asia, this jewel alocasia has dramatic dark leaves that are almost completely black with bold grey veins.
The Black Velvet was once a very rare find, but fortunately, it has become widely available now, and you can even find it in big box stores! Although it is no longer as rare, the Black Velvet has not lost its appeal among houseplant enthusiasts.
With such a striking appearance and being easier to care for than some other Alocasias, it holds its place as a must-have for even the most extravagant plant collections.
Alocasia Black Velvet Care Sheet
Borneo, Southeast Asia
Bright indirect light
When the top 2 inches of soil are dry
Monthly/every other watering during growth
Infrequent, every 2-3.5 years/ go up one pot size only
Toxic to humans and pets
Spider mites, though less pest-pronethan many other Alocasias
Separate offsets or divide the rhizome
Care Tips for a Healthy Alocasia Black Velvet
Temperature and Humidity
It’s no secret that Alocasias like warm temperatures and high humidity. Black Velvets, in particular, will grow faster with both conditions on the higher end of the recommended ranges.
To avoid foliage problems, keep your Black Velvet in a temperature range of 59-80ºF (15ºC-27ºC) and humidity at least 40%. Avoid cold drafts.
For faster growth, this Alocasia will thrive in temperatures of 73-80ºF (22-27ºC) and a humidity of 60-75%.
Should you mist your Black Velvet?
As we will discuss further, these velvety leaves don’t respond well to moisture. They tend to get water spots even if distilled water is used on the leaves and not wiped away quickly.
The Black Velvet will certainly get hard water stains if tap water is used on its leaves. For this reason, I strongly recommend using a humidifier and grouping it with other plants to add humidity rather than trying to raise humidity by misting this plant.
Avoiding too much light
Provide medium to bright indirect light, and your Black Velvet will be happy.
Your Velvet should not be exposed to direct light as the black leaves can easily become sun scorched.
If the light is too intense for it, the plant may react by slightly curling its leaves inward. This is the first sign that you may need to move your Black Velvet further back from harsh light.
Secondly, you may see a brown spot from sunburn, as shown here:
This occurred when I placed my Black Velvet right in front of a west window and forgot to use my light filtering curtain that day. I have since moved it 8 feet back from a west window, and it’s been doing very well there during the summer.
While light spectrums are often interpreted differently by many of us, adequate light for this plant could be around 7-10 feet away from a high-light window (such as a southwest or west-facing window if you are in the Northern Hemisphere).
In an east-facing window, this Alocasia can tolerate dappled morning sun but avoid direct sunlight.
I have had my Black Velvet four feet back from an east window before, and I shielded it from direct morning sun by placing taller plants in between.
You can experiment with this and adjust accordingly if you see any brown spots appear on its leaves. Using taller plants to protect your Black Velvet is great for providing bright light without direct light.
Ensuring your Black Velvet gets enough light
Your plant will become “leggy” and spindly in order to reach for the sun in low-light conditions. If you observe this, try moving your Alocasia Black Velvet to a location with brighter indirect light.
Additionally, you may notice that your plant’s soil is taking much longer to dry out in the top layers if you have moved it to a dimmer location. This is best to avoid since it can create conditions for root rot.
If you are watering way less frequently and noticing wet soil for prolonged periods, it is best to move your Alocasia to a spot with better light.
Your Black Velvet can stay close to a north-facing window (lower light window) since the light stays ambient throughout the day. However, north windows often don’t provide enough light during winter (unless you live in a tropical environment). You may need to supplement with a grow-light 5-7 feet away from your Black Velvet in that case.
Use filtered or distilled water and avoid tap water.
Due to its velvety texture, the Black Velvet is prone to hard water stains and spots on its leaves. This happens with the use of tap water, even if the water is only applied to the soil.
Water when the top 2 inches of soil dries out. If using a moisture meter, this point is usually at 2.5 to 3 on the meter when it is time to water.
I recommend top-watering your Black Velvet instead of bottom-watering because this seems to prevent the soil from getting excessively drenched in the bottom layer of its pot.
This will help prevent root rot since this plant does prefer to be watered fairly often. As previously mentioned, be careful not to get your Black Velvet’s leaves wet since their leaves are prone to water spots.
Additionally, make sure you let your plant drain thoroughly.
Allow your Black Velvet to sit in a drainage tray for a few hours before placing it back into its cover pot to prevent its roots from sitting in overly wet soil.
Think of your Black Velvet in this way: it likes to get water as soon as it needs it, but it also doesn’t want to stay drenched for long at all.
The best plan for feeding this Alocasia is to fertilize once monthly with half-strength liquid fertilizer (unless you see new growth).
If you notice a new leaf, it is okay to increase fertilization to half strength every other watering during the development of the new leaf.
Alocasia Black Velvets are known as “light feeders,” but some of us classify them more as “medium feeders,” since they tend to keep more of their leaves with proper feeding at half-strength during their growth.
- Avoid root burn by top watering with distilled or filtered water first.
- Then follow with a mixture of water and half-strength liquid fertilizer.
- Pour this once through your plant.
- Allow it to drain thoroughly.
Black Velvets have small root systems. Like many other aroids, they do best in snug pots.
Avoiding extra layers of soil around this plant helps prevent root rot.
This Alocasia does best in a small pot where it is slightly rootbound. Repotting should only be needed once every couple of years.
Since we often don’t know when a plant was last repotted upon purchase, it is best to look at the roots from time to time.
Also, you may want to check how rootbound your Black Velvet is if you notice that you have to water a lot more frequently.
When repotting, only go up one pot size. Make sure you select a pot with multiple drainage holes. I prefer to have them in nursery pots and use terracotta or ceramic pot for a decorative cover pot.
If possible, try to time your repotting of the Black Velvet during the Spring when there is more regular growth.
Black Velvets need a well-draining filtering soil mix appropriate for aroids. As part of the aroid group, they are susceptible to root rot if they are not placed in a well-draining substrate.
Recipe for Alocasia Black Velvet soil mix
- 30% Orchid bark or Coco chips (aeration)
- 30% Pumice or perlite (aeration)
- 30% Coco coir or Peat (moisture)
- 10% Worm castings (gentle organic fertilizer)
Check out our Aroid Soil Mix Article to learn more about the best soil mixtures for aroids.
The Alocasia Black Velvet is toxic to people and pets. Avoid allowing small children and pets near this plant.
If you would love to have this plant in your collection but worry about safety, I suggest using a hanging plant table. This is a stylish table you can hang from your ceiling, allowing you to place any potted plant at a reasonable height away from children and pets.
Why does your Black Velvet lose leaves during growth?
It is common for Alocasias, in general, to shed an old leaf to allocate energy and nutrients to their new leaves.
While this process is expected and not concerning, you can encourage your Black Velvet to keep more of its leaves by providing the plant with extra attention when you see a new leaf forming.
Steps to encourage your Black Velvet to keep more leaves
1. Monitor the soil closely for lack of moisture.
When your Black Velvet is developing a new leaf, monitor extra closely for the soil drying out more rapidly than usual.
Notoriously, Alocasias get thirstier when they are working on a new leaf.
This is definitely the case for your Black Velvet.
Be ready to water as soon as you feel the top two inches of the soil becoming dry. This will increase the likelihood of your Black Velvet keeping all its leaves.
If your Black Velvet goes too long without a drink during growth, it will be more likely to shed an older leaf.
2. Feed with half-strength liquid fertilizer.
Additionally, you should feed with half-strength liquid fertilizer during every other watering for the Black Velvet when you see a new leaf emerging. This will ensure that your plant has enough nutrients for the new leaf and existing leaves.
After you have watered once through with regular distilled water, pour mixed distilled water with half-strength liquid houseplant fertilizer through your plant until you see drainage.
Common Problems for Alocasia Black Velvet
Most Common Causes
Lack of humidityInconsistent wateringFertilizer burn
Increase humidity if below 40%. Be consistent with watering and avoid over-fertilizing.
Nutrient DeficiencyInconsistent watering
No action is needed for dormancy as the loss of old leaves will naturally occur at the end of a growing season.
If leaf loss occurs each time a new leaf grows, be consistent with watering and feeding.
Too much light
Lack of humidity
Pull back from the light source if your plant is getting strong/harsh light.
Increase the humidity to at least 40%.
Yellow spots on leaves
Make sure you are not overwatering or underwatering.
White spots on leaves
Avoid getting the leaves wet. Don’t mist, and use filtered or distilled water.
Check for any webbing, leaf damage, or other signs of pests and treat.
Long stems, leggy
Lack of adequate light
Provide more bright indirect sunlight or a grow light.
The Alocasia Black Velvet is a beautiful and rewarding houseplant. It prefers similar care to most Alocasias but can be particular about humidity, watering, and moisture on its velvety leaves.
It is not as pest prone as many other Alocasias but has been known to get spider mites if exposed. Its most common problems deal mostly with its foliage, but you can keep the leaves numerous and stunning by following our care tips.
With proper care, the Alocasia Black Velvet will thrive in your home.