Elephant Ear, Jewel Alocasia
Alocasia reginula ‘Black Velvet’
Native to the jungles of Borneo, Alocasia reginula ‘Black Velvet’ is a a real dark gem. A part of the very exclusive club of plant species with (almost) black foliage, it provides a powerful contrast to a typical green terrarium environment – especially with the silvery white veins that pierce through the leaves.
Alocasia reginula literally means the “little queen” and so this regal beauty fits the part. In fact, it’s also labelled as a “jewel orchid” for its compact growth, making it one of the few varieties that’s small enough for life in a terrarium. Its small stature and exotic foliage make it an excellent foreground focal piece.
At a Glance
Where to Buy Alocasia reginula ‘Black Velvet’
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Terrarium Plant Guide
Alocasia Black Velvet Care & Growth
This Alocasia will thrive in a bright spot with lots of indirect light. I’ve found they’re able to handle a small amount of direct sunlight but you’ll see their leaves start to curl if it gets too much.
It can be easy to over-water Alocasia reginula ‘Black Velvet’, so getting the right balance of moisture in a terrarium is essential to keeping this plant healthy. The thick, waxy leaves hint at its water retaining abilities, and for a tropical plant it has a surprisingly low tolerance for wet environments.
It can absolutely be grown in a terrarium with the right substrate, but it can be helpful to pair jewel alocasia like this one with other more drought tolerant tropical species (like Syngonium podophyllum) to give you some wiggle room.
Using a substrate with good drainage is important to prevent this plant from developing root rot, but most tropical mixes are designed to do just that.
Opting for a mix high in orchid bark and sand will help to provide the necessary drainage and root aeration, and you can supplement with additional perlite as necessary. You could also try reducing the sphagnum moss and coco coir content as you won’t need as much water retention.
Temperature & Humidity
As a commonly grown houseplant, Alocasia reginula ‘Black Velvet’ will comfortably grow in most household conditions. So, you can expect this species to thrive in a warm and humid terrarium environment.
As a jewel alocasia, you can expect this species to grow at a moderate rate but stay pretty compact even when fully mature. I’ve found that this plant will often allow its older leaves to die off in favour of creating new ones – so that can really slow down the whole growth process.
Alocasia won’t grow from stem or leaf cuttings, but you’ll find they’re often a group of plants clumped together that you can divide, or they naturally form new baby plants anyway.
So, the easiest way to propagate Alocasia reginula ‘Black Velvet’ is to expose the central rhizome, identify any offsets and remove them with your hands or a clean knife if necessary.
Varieties & Similar Plants
Several of the other jewel alocasias are excellent candidates for terrariums, including Alocasia baginda ‘Dragon Scale’ and Alocasia cuprea ‘Red Secret’.
There is a green velvet alocasia (Alocasia micholitziana ‘Frydek’) but it’s much larger, comes with a green foliage and more of a serrated arrowhead shaped leaf.
As alluded to earlier, by far the most common problem in growing Alocasia reginula ‘Black Velvet’ is over-watering. However, through a false bottom terrarium and a well draining substrate you can certainly get the moisture balance right.