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Dark and dramatic planting schemes using flowers and foliage with deep purple, red and black colouring can be the perfect calming backdrop for relaxing in the garden or socialising.

Colours can either be categorised as dark or bright colours. For instance, dark colours are blues, purples and pinks that are used to create the feel of a serene sanctuary and a space to de-stress.

Dark colours are also be used to create the illusion of more space, which is helpful if you have a small garden. Incorporating neutral tones will also help to maintain the aesthetic you want to create whilst not being overpowering and detracting from the impact.

1. Cotinus coggygria (smoke bush) ‘Royal Purple’

The oval leaves are dark purple and in autumn turn to scarlet shades. Not only is their foliage of interest, but in summer plumes of pink-purple flowers bloom like a cloud of smoke. Their texture makes them a great addition to a mixed border.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained foliage
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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2. Colocasia esculenta (taro) ‘Black Magic’

The large, dark leaves resemble elephants’ ears, hence another of their common names. Growing to a length of 60cm, the leaves grow on dark purple stems and start as green before maturing to purple-black. They are frost tender, so are suited to growing outdoors in the UK in summer.

  • Semi-evergreen foliage
  • Can be grown outside in the summer (5-10˚C)
  • Grows up to 2.5m tall
  • Poorly drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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3. Tulipa (tulip) ‘Queen of Night’

The glossy maroon flowers that bloom on upright stems reach around 60cm. They are perfect for the front of middle of a dark and dramatic coloured border, bringing a twist to the usual cheery coloured tulips.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 60cm tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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4. Dahlia ‘Arabian Night’

Double, dark red flowers like ‘Arabian Night’ are sure to bring some drama to your planting scheme from summer until the first frosts. To keep them flowering their best and prolong the season, feed with a potash-rich feed and deadhead as needed.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy in coastal and relatively mild parts of the UK
  • Grows up to 1m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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5. Persicaria microcephala (knotweed) ‘Red Dragon’ 

This semi-evergreen plant has a trailing habit with lance-shaped leaves that are purple with silver-green markings. This plant will bring structure and colour to your border year-round, or as an option for groundcover as it doesn’t spread as vigorously as other species.

  • Semi-evergreen foliage
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 50cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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6. Petunia [Black Velvet] ‘Balpevac’ 

Next is an annual that has purple-black flowers that have the appearance of velvet that are sure to add some texture to the front of your border. They should be planted out after the frosts have passed and treat them as a tender bedding plant.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Tolerant of low temperatures, but not surviving being frozen
  • Grows up to 50cm tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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7. Viola ‘Molly Sanderson’ 

The pretty spreading evergreen perennials grow up to 12cm tall, making them perfect for banks and slopes and rock gardens. The dark black flowers have a yellow centre, adding a touch of brightness as a contrast to the dark colours.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 12cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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8. Heuchera (alum root) ‘Plum Pudding’

Next is a bushy evergreen with compact growth of beetroot coloured foliage that have a silvery metallic sheen. They grow best in a loamy moist but well-drained soil, and will happily grow in containers too.

  • Evergreen foliage
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 50cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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9. Ocimum basilicum (purple basil) ‘Crimson King’ 

For dark, dramatic foliage plants that you can eat, look no further than purple basil. Grow in a container and when growing harvest the leaves regularly, removing flowers as they appear so the energy goes into creating more leaves.

  • Edible foliage
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows up to 50cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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10. Cercis canadensis (redbud) ‘Forest Pansy’ 

The deciduous foliage of this tree is sure to put on a show. The heart-shaped flowers turn from bronze, orange tones to deep red and purple in autumn. Then, in spring, pink flowers bloom in clusters before new leaves grow. They are a perfect addition to a low maintenance, architectural garden.

  • Interesting foliage and flowers in spring
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 8m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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So, add some drama to your planting schemes with these dark and dramatic plants with striking flowers and foliage.

For more inspiration for foliage plants, read this:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

Foliage plants
Pinterest
Pinterest Board


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