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Landscaping clients will love this haunted horticulture
Jill Odom | October 9, 2015

Use plants with lush, dark foliage like Primo ‘Black Pearl’ coral bells to make your brighter plants really pop.
Photo: Courtesy of Proven Winners –

Orange may be the new black, but you can never go wrong with some mysterious black plants to add a spooky feel to the landscape for the Halloween season.

From foliage to petals, check out these 13 uncanny cultivars that can add a bit of dark, dramatic flair to your clients’ holiday decorations.

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Horned Pansy ‘Bowles Black’ (Viola cornuta) 

This velvety black pansy has a burst of bright violet and yellow in the center. Place in a container or in mass plantings. This annual has multiple bloom times, including early fall. Grows less than 6 inches tall.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: all zones
  • Full sun to partial shade

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Hillside Black Beauty Snakeroot (Cimicifuga ramosa)

Boasting of a deep smoky purple that looks almost black, this perennial has 5 feet tall spires of white flowers that give off a vanilla scent, which attracts both butterflies and people. Deer resistant. Requires moist soil. Grows 3 feet tall.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8
  • Mostly sunny to mostly shady

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Photo: usna.usda.gov

Photo:

Black Pearl Pepper (Capsicum annuum)

This low-maintenance ornamental pepper has rich black foliage and glossy dark peppers that ripen to bright red orbs. The foliage starts out green, but quickly turns black in full sun. The pearl-like fruit is edible but extremely hot. Can be used in containers or mass plantings. Grows 1 to 1.5 feet tall.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-10
  • Full sun

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Photo: Courtesy of Proven Winners –

Weigela Midnight Wine (Weigela florida)

Minimal pruning is needed for this mound of purple-burgundy leaves. This shrub is a favorite of hummingbirds and is very adaptable once established. Reaches best dark color when in full sun. Use to add some drama in borders, containers and mass plantings. Grows 8 to 12 inches tall.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-8
  • Full sun

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Photo: Pixabay

Redbor Kale (Brassica oleracea)

Another oddly colored edible, this kale grows best in the cool temperatures of fall. Its lush eggplant shade of leaves looks similar to billowing clouds coming out of a witch’s brew if placed in a container. It can also be placed in window boxes, borders and ornamental garden areas. Grows 1 to 1.5 feet tall.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11
  • Full sun

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Photo: Pixabay

Dahlia ‘Karma Choc’ (‘Karma Choc’ Dahlia)

Going from a satiny red to an inky black center, this dahlia blooms from July until frost. As a member of the water-lily dahlias, this plant has double blooms with sparse ray florets that attract butterflies. Great for containers and borders as it stands up straight and is not top-heavy. Grows up to 36 inches tall.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-11
  • Full sun

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Photo: Monrovia

Photo: Monrovia

Black Magic Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’)

As if the name weren’t enough of a hint as to why this is a perfect Halloween addition, this perennial’s foliage is downright somber. It provides great contrast with brighter plants in a container. Requires moist soil. Grows 5 to 6 feet tall and wide.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10
  • Filtered sun

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Photo: Monrovia

Photo: Monrovia

Obsidian Coral Bells (Heuchera x ‘Obsidian’ P.P. #14,836)

Adding height and acting as an attention-getter, this perennial exhibits glossy black leaves that keep their color throughout the season. Forms clumps of foliage that make it an effective ground cover. Grows 8 to 10 inches tall, with flower stems 24 inches tall.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9
  • Full to partial sun

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Photo: Pixabay

Black Hollyhock (Alcea rosea ‘nigra’)

A perennial with maroon petals that are so dark the blood-red plant often looks black. A classic, it’s known for being planted in the gardens of Thomas Jefferson.  Attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds. Grows 5 to 8 feet tall.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-9
  • Full sun

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Photo: Ball Horticultural Company

Sweetunia Black Satin Petunia (Petunia ‘Sweetunia Black Satin’)

These luxurious silky black trumpet-shaped blooms can be used almost anywhere in the garden, from containers and hanging baskets to borders and mass plantings. Attracts pollinators of all kinds. Grows 8 to 10 inches tall.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11
  • Full sun to partial shade

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Photo: Proven Winners

Photo: Courtesy of Proven Winners – .

Mahogany Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) 

This fast-spreading groundcover alternates between a rich plum color and black. Its texture adds extra interest. Drought and heat tolerant. Can be used as a spiller in containers as well. Grows 3 to 6 inches tall.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-11
  • Sun or shade

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Photo: Shutterstock

Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’)

Dense spiky sprays of charcoal with a purplish tint add a nice spooky feel for Halloween containers. Also has purple fall berries for extra interest. Slow-growing. Grows 5 to 6 inches tall and wide.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-10
  • Partial to full sun

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Photo:

Bat Flower (Tacca chantrieri)

Saving the best for last, this peculiar plant is native to southern parts of Asia. Requires moist soil. From its strange “whiskers” to the leaves that look like bat wings, this is definitely the most eerie of our black-plant lineup. Grows 2 to 3 feet tall.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 10-11
  • Partial sun to shade

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