Adding Black Plants To Your Garden

It’s one of my favorite times of the year: garden planning season.  The plant catalogues are arriving en masse here at Casa de McBoy.  They are being furiously marked up and at the same time I am making spaces in the garden for new things to replace stuff that was overgrown or didn’t make it through the last freeze or just because I want it in the yard because I am rethinking a section of it.

Unlike most of us, I receive the most glorious to the trade only catalogues that are full color with rapturous descriptions of plants that few could only dream of growing to their full potential.  Monrovia sends one out every year that can only be described of as magnificent.  Color photos of the plants are staged in a way that the readers can also see what companion plants YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO HAVE TO GO WITH ALL OF THESE NEW PLANTS.

Every year in these catalogues there’s a presentation of the newest hybrids available or the newest trends for the upcoming year.  One that I have noted over and over again the last few years is the addition of black or near black plants to the garden spaces. I love this idea.  In a sea of green, you need a bit of dark glamour to break things up.

Here’s a list of black plants that you can use in your gardens for amazing results.  I list them with their scientific names rather than their common names because what one plant is called in one area, it may not be called that in another.  Most independent garden centers will be able to know what you’re talking about when you bring them scientific names since that’s what the plants are ordered under.

Black ajugaAjuga reptans var. Black Scallop

Zone: 4-10

Light: Sun, Part Shade, Shade

Plant Type: Perrennial

Size: 4-9” tall X 6-18” wide

Uses: This versatile plant works well in containers, I think it would look particularly stunning in a brightly colored pot.  It also works well on slopes for erosion control and as a groundcover.  It can be uses in beds and as a border around plants.

black succuletAeonium arboreum var. atropurpureum

Zone: 9-10

Light: Sun to Partial Shade

Plant Type: Succulent

Size: different cultivars can reach up to 6’ tall, but for the most part tend to stay at around 1’ tall with 6-8” wide crowns of deep purple to near black rosettes.

Uses: Works well in planters and as a mass plant.

Fun fact: Can tolerate salt spray well which makes it ideal for coastal regions.

Black Elephant EarColocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’

Zone: 7-11

Light: Sun to partial shade

Plant Type: Bulb

Size: 3 to 4’ tall and clumps can get to be 6’ wide

Uses: Container plant.  It also looks amazing in a tropical themed garden near a pool or as bold accent in a cutting garden.

NotSoFun Fact: The bulbs are poisonous to animals. Dies back in the cold

Black BegoniaBegonia x. var. ‘Black Mamba’

Zone: 10-11

Light: Partial shade

Plant Type: Rhizome/Perrenial Size: 6-12” tall and can spread to 18” wide

Uses: Container plant.  Perennial garden.  Indoor plant. Unlike a lot of black plants this one has a matte finish leaf because of tiny hairs on the leaves, so it adds nice texture to a setting.

Black BambooPhyllostachys nigra

Zone: 7-11

Light: Sun to partial shade

Plant Type: Grass

Size: Under ideal circumstances up to 25’ tall

Uses: Makes a bold choice to an Asian themed garden.

NotSoFun fact: This is a running bamboo, so it can quickly overcome areas if left untended.

Black_HelleboreHelleborus niger var. ‘Night Coaster’

Zone: 4a- 8b

Light: Sun to partial shade

Plant Type: Bulb

Size: 6-12” tall and up to 12” wide

Uses: Looks great in cutting gardens and herbaceous gardens.  It’s the sort of flower you imagine you would find in the most delicate of dark arrangements.

Fun fact: Because it blooms late in the winter, it is a favorite for cottage gardens.

Black HuecheraHeuchera micrantha var. ‘Obsidian’

Zone: 3- 8b Light: Sun to partial shade

Plant Type: Perennial

Size: 12-18” tall and up to 24” wide

Uses: Spectacular mass plant. Adds a nice touch to a meadow style garden. Works well in containers. Adds texture to a space with its ruffled leaves.

Fun fact: Mix with other huecheras, especially the chartreuse ones, for a Piet Oudolf style garden.

Black_Mondo_GrassOphiopogon planiscapus var. ‘Nigrescens’

Zone: 6-9

Light: Sun to partial shade

Plant Type: Herbaceous Perennial

Size: 6-12” tall and just as wide

Uses: Great border plant for perennial, cutting garden, Asian garden, or in a container.

Fun fact: Because of its fine textured leaves, this plant works especially well with other fine to medium textured leaves in a given setting.

Black actaea simplexActaea simplex var. ‘Black Negligee’

Zone: 3-9

Light: Sun to partial shade

Plant Type: Herbaceous Perennial

Size: Can get to 6’ tall (including flower stem) and about 1.5’ wide.

Uses: Great plant for perennial, cutting garden, meadow, or in a container.

Fun fact: Leaves start out as a deep green and become dark purple to almost black as they age.

Black and Blue sageSalvia guaranitica var. ‘Black and Blue’

Zone: 7-10

Light: Sun

Plant Type: Herbaceous Perennial

Size: 2-5’ tall and almost as wide.

Uses: Works especially well in wildflower gardens with things like other salvias. Looks spectacular against rudbeckias.

Fun fact: Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden.

Try some of these and let us know how they work.  Any other black plants for the garden I missed, tell us in the comments. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some plants to order, and so do you. Remember all of these and more can be purchased through Amazon using the Crasstalk Amazon link.

Big thank you to @MonroviaKat on the Twitters for inspiring this article. If you ever find yourself at an event with a Monrovia booth, it’s probably her running the show. Say howdy.

Top Image: Flickr
Post Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

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