Everyday Gardeners

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Complete Your Halloween Haunt with Black Plants

The following is a guest blog post from Leslie Halleck.

With Halloween just around the corner, I find myself giddy with anticipation. I’ll admit that Halloween is my favorite holiday when it comes to decorating. As the designated “scary house” of the neighborhood, I feel it’s my duty to deliver not only on the sweets when the kids arrive, but also to max out the “creepy” factor. In addition to all the standard decorations that go into creating a house of haunt, I also like to create plant combinations that reflect the season. There’s nothing better than adding plants with black foliage to porch containers to complete the look and feel with some style.

Plant varieties with black foliage are hot right now, but plants with true black foliage are far and few between. One of the newest arrivals is the BLACK DIAMOND™ series of dwarf crapemyrtles. When I first spotted these beauties I knew I had to have at least one, and that they’d be perfect for Halloween container specimens. The plants sport spectacular black foliage that offers up a striking contrast to the five available flower colors. BLACK DIAMOND™  Pure White is my favorite; the bright white flowers against the dark black foliage are stunning. If you’re using the “thriller, filler & spiller” method of container design, these are definitely your thriller (which just happens to work perfectly with our Halloween theme, no?). When mature, these semi-dwarf shrubs reach a maximum of 10- to 12’ feet tall, but can be kept to a container size by tip pruning. Make sure you place them in a full sun location to keep plants in bloom and foliage color strong.

For an architectural modern look, Aeonium arboreum ’Zwartkop’, also known as black rose, is the perfect filler for a Halloween themed container. Aeonium is a striking succulent which forms clumps of tall gray stems that hold shiny rosettes of almost black leaves. These rosettes are often called flowers because of their shape. Another fantastic fall filler for your Halloween doorstep is Petunia ‘Black Velvet’. I adore this variety because the flowers are as black as can be with a velvety sheen to them. Don’t forget about black pansies or violas! ‘Black Devil’ offers up coal-black blooms with a tiny yellow center. They make for the perfect tabletop centerpiece when planted or displayed inside pumpkins.

A good container combination always benefits from a plant that trails over the edge…also known as your “spiller”. ‘Black Heart’ Sweet Potato vine is a vigorous creeping vine with beautiful heart shaped leaves. Foliage color is a deep burgundy to almost black. This annual is easy as can be to grow and can work in a full sun to part sun environment. It will also tolerate dry spells if you forget to water, which is a bonus if you live in a hot climate.  All of these black beauties create a striking contrast with combined with silver foliage plants such as dusty miller or Centaurea cineraria ‘Colchester White’.

Happy Halloween!

Leslie is a dedicated horticulturist and gardener with more than 20 years of green industry experience.  She earned her M.S. in Horticulture at Michigan State University and her B.S. in Biology/Botany from the University of North Texas. Leslie is also a Certified Professional Horticulturist (CPH). She currently runs her own consulting company, Halleck Horticultural. You can read her growLively garden blog at www.lesliehalleck.com




6 Responses to “ Complete Your Halloween Haunt with Black Plants ”

  1. These plants look very beautiful indeed. And the black color adds a touch glamor to the garden. I would love to add them in my garden. Could you please tell me where in California these would be available?

  2. Albert,
    I totally agree: I think black foliage plants really bring a new level of elegance and sophistication to a garden, beyond the fun you can have with them for seasonal decor. I would think that this time of year, you could probably find the petunias and sweet potato vine at a good independent garden center in your area. You might call a few to see what they have in stock. For the Black Diamond Crapemyrtles, you might try purchasing online from Sooner Plant Farm if you can’t yet find them locally (they are very new and may not be available in your area just yet). Cheers!

  3. Yes Albert,
    That is the issue I usually find. I love the plants I see then go to the gardening center only to find they are not available. I also live in California. I would like to see underneath each plant a few places where we could find them. Also it would be great if the magazine could work with a few nationwide gardening centers to offer these plants for a limited time with the BHG branding on them.

  4. For you California folks, I’m in PA and I envy the fact you can access Annie’s Annual and Perennials at 740 Market Avenue in Richmond CA. I imagine she would carry these.

  5. Kathy – As someone who ran independent garden centers for 12 years, I can say that it’s a good idea to let your local nursery know what you’re looking for so they know there is a demand. Often, you can do a special order for plants with your garden center and if they can find them they can add them on to an order they have coming in. IGCs have to make choices about what to carry – they can’t carry everything, especially not with live goods. So they might be able to get it, but just haven’t brought it in. The Black Diamond Crapemyrtles can be purchased online (Sooner Plant Farm and Plant Me Green). I would think the Aeonium would be be readily available in California. The sweet potato vines are pretty commonly available too. Ask your nursery for the Petunias. Annie’s Annuals is a great resource.

  6. Hello Nanc and Lesie, thank you for the suggestions, I would definitely get at least some of these plants for my garden soon. Thank you so much.

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