Halloween is an exciting, fun-filled evening, made extra atmospheric by all the orange and black colour themed decorations used to dress up the house and garden. Adding dark colour plants to the displays helps create that ‘spooky spirit’ feeling. They also make the perfect backdrop for all those amazing carved orange pumpkins and so here are some of the deep, dark plants for Halloween…
Heuchera (coral bells)
Heuchera, or coral bells are easy to care for. The low growing evergreen plants come in a huge array of different leaf colours, including lots of deep dark purple and orange varieties.
These are the perfect choice for placing near and around your Halloween decorations as they can be kept in the pots you buy them in. Drape Halloween themed fabric around them to hide the pots. Then, plant them up in the garden or containers afterwards.
Try ‘Black Pearl’, ‘Obsidian’ or ‘Wildberry’ for the deepest of dark purple leaves and ‘Orangeberry’, ‘Orange Dream’ or ‘Marmalade’ for the contrasting oranges.
Whichever varieties you choose, the care instructions are very similar. Plant in dappled shade in free-draining soil, as they won’t survive in water-logged conditions. Also make sure they aren’t crowded out by other plants in the border as they need good air circulation around the leaves.
The great news is that, once they’ve established in the soil, they are drought tolerant.
Just give them a haircut in spring and remove any old, dead leaves. Then, they’ll reward you with a fresh crop of shiny coloured leaves year after year.
Tacca chantrieri (bat flower orchid)
For the ultimate in spooky exotic this plant cannot be beaten, with black flowers shaped like Batman’s cape.
Its other name is cat’s whiskers, and you can see why. The long-lasting blooms make good cut flowers after the spook-tacular event has ended.
It will need to be grown in the house or conservatory. However, it can be placed outside on a shady part of your patio during the summer months.
Like its namesake, the bat, it needs shade or partial shade. It also grows best in a high humidity environment. Therefore, you’ll need to use a mister filled with rain or distilled water. For an extra health boost, give it an occasional liquid seaweed feed.
Phormium (New Zealand flax)
The next plants for Halloween are Phormiums which are a tough, relatively easy group of evergreen plants to grow. Characterised by long evergreen leaves Phormium tenax varieties tend to have more upright leaves. On the other hand, the leaves of cookianum varieties are more arching.
Both types are happy growing in moist, well-drained soil and there are several varieties with dark purple leaves such as ‘Evening Glow’ ‘Black Adder’ and ‘Platt’s Black.’ But the darkest of them all seems to currently be ‘Black Velvet’.
With lots of thin, spear-like black leaves, ‘Black Velvet’ will help create that gothic, other worldly atmosphere. With a height and spread of around 50cm to 1m, it’s perfect for the smaller garden but is equally at home in a container. It likes to be grown in full sun and is suitable for most soil types.
Loropetalum chinense (Chinese witch hazel) ‘Black Pearl’
This compact, evergreen shrub is a bewitching choice for Halloween. It has shiny, dark purple leaves and will certainly become a talking point amongst your friends and visitors. In late autumn, it becomes smothered in bright cerise colour, scented flowers.They usually remain all the way through winter and into spring. Plant it in a sheltered position in free-draining, moist soil.
Ophiopogon planiscscapus (black mondo) ‘Nigrescens’
Another evergreen, super dark leaved plant that looks great placed around pumpkins. This low-growing, easy to care for, inky black leaf perennial, has leaves that look like grass. Although it is, in fact, a member of the lily family.
It can be grown in sun or partial shade and reaches a modest height of 20cm tall. Once established, it should produce mauve-black berries in autumn. Come summer, small, pale mauve flowers bloom.
Create a spooky atmosphere in your front or back garden to welcome the trick-or-treaters with these plants. For some drama, these dark plants for Halloween are a great place to start.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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