Raising a Bat Flower

It all started when I spent the morning stalking dragonflies among some water-lilies at the local botanical garden.

I ended up taking a rogue turn toward the bonsai collection which was too near the gift shop. Said gift shop was hosting a rare plant sale, and, after several events of which most are a blur, I found myself exiting as the new owner of a Tacca integrifolia, or white batflower, a tropical, Asiatic plant that I am not entirely certain I will be able to keep alive.

Thus began Project Batwing, the epic, arduous journey of me trying to nurse a yellow cluster of leaves into dramatic, black and white flowers reminiscent of Hollywood yesteryear. This is her story.

Yzma Olivia’s Stats

WeekNumber of LeavesLargest Leaf Dimensions (mm)Notes
112185 x 55Listened to Gregorian Chant
211231 x 97Soil accidentally contaminated with salt. Cleaned, repotted to bigger pot.
37231 x 97Considerable pleading & misting
45228 x 97Not really the right soil now. Given a large amount of compost. #PrayersForOlivia
55228 x 97 Added petri dishes of water for humidity. Emergency social media debut.
6 6228 x 97Olivia’s compost has sprouted worms (of some sort) possible tiny leaf showing
76228 x 97No comment 22/05
84228 x 97Cut off 2 of the 5 blackening leaves. tiny leaf-start still there. Worms gone.
94228 x 97Three big leaves dying. Little leaf not dead.
104228 x 97Found better soil. Repotted midweek. Comments same as week 9.
111Cut off dying leaves. Cold week.
121No comment 3/07
131Little leaf still curled up like a pencil. Olivia moved to newly-built ICU.
141Little leaf has brown tip
151Little leaf bigger and opening
16175 x 30Little leaf has opened. Domestic protests erupt after Mr Omar moves the ICU to a shadowy part of the house. ICU still not returned.
171100 x 44Leaf is unusual texture with prominent veins and receded leaf parts, almost like it’s plastic. But it is very real and is not wilted.
18Skipped a week just because
191Looks the same. Did not feel like measuring.
201119 x 60Midterms. Olivia moved out of the ICU. Now neighbor to the peace lily.
~Dead zone of indeterminate number of weeks without updates.
12Little leaf 2.0 is growing and final year project is almost done. Let’s start fresh with the countdown.
?Another statistical dead zone.
12157 X 72Little leaf 2.0 is now the big leaf. This week marks one year since Yzma Olivia came home.