If you believe you have adequately prepared for Halloween, you may have adorned your porch with a pumpkin, placed a scarecrow by the lamppost, and stocked up on enough candy to ensure leftovers.
However, have you considered incorporating spooky plants into your garden? Chances are, you have not. It is unfortunate that we often associate spring with planting vibrant flowers such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, and pansies, while summer is carefully planned with blooming perennials, fruits, vegetables, and hanging baskets filled with annuals.
Yet, when it comes to Halloween, a day that typically brings more visitors to our doorsteps than any other on the calendar, we only think of mums, sedums, and the few perennials that remain.
However, there are numerous seasonally appropriate near-black and gothic plants that can captivate both the little ghosts and goblins and ourselves.
We need not completely overhaul our gardens; simply incorporating a few of these living decorations into our beds or containers will suffice. This will undoubtedly be a treat for everyone involved.
The Pumpkin on a Stick, scientifically known as Solanum integrifolium, is a fascinating plant that requires minimal care and is particularly suitable for the autumn season.
Despite its name, this plant is not actually a pumpkin, but rather an ornamental eggplant. It thrives during the summer months and is typically harvested in the fall, when its fruits, which grow along the stems, transform into a vibrant orange hue.
To cultivate these plants, it is advisable to start from seed indoors during the late winter or early spring, and subsequently transfer them to the garden once the region’s climate is suitable for tomatoes and eggplants.
If you wish to showcase the beauty of these plants indoors, simply place the cut stems in a vase filled with water, where they can remain fresh for up to two to four weeks.
Alternatively, you can detach individual “pumpkins” and arrange them in a bowl to create a stunning autumn centerpiece.
For those seeking a longer-lasting decorative element, it is recommended to remove the leaves and hang the stems upside down in a cool and dry location with adequate air circulation.
By doing so, the fruits will gradually shrivel and deepen in color, ensuring an enduring and visually appealing display.
BAT FLOWER (Tacca chantrieri)
The yam family is a diverse group of plants that includes a variety of species with unique characteristics. One member of this family, in particular, stands out for its striking appearance and unusual resemblance to another type of plant.
This subtropical plant, often grown as a houseplant in regions that don’t experience frosts and freezes, bears a striking resemblance to an orchid.
Its delicate flowers are reminiscent of bats in flight, with long, thin petals that curve and twist like wings. Despite its striking appearance, this plant is surprisingly easy to care for, requiring only moderate amounts of water and indirect sunlight.
In fact, like vampires, these plants prefer to avoid direct sunlight altogether, thriving in shady areas and cooler temperatures.
Whether grown for its unique appearance or its ease of care, this yam family member is a fascinating addition to any plant collection.
GHOST PLANT (Monotropa uniflora)
The yam family encompasses a wide array of plants, each with its own distinctive qualities. However, one particular member of this diverse family stands out due to its remarkable features and uncanny resemblance to another type of plant.
This subtropical plant, often cultivated as a houseplant in regions unaffected by freezing temperatures, bears an astonishing resemblance to an orchid.
Its delicate flowers, which bear an uncanny resemblance to bats in mid-flight, boast long, slender petals that gracefully curve and twist, evoking the image of wings.
Despite its visually striking appearance, this plant surprisingly requires minimal effort to maintain, necessitating only moderate amounts of water and indirect sunlight.
In fact, akin to vampires, these plants prefer to steer clear of direct sunlight entirely, thriving in cooler temperatures and shaded environments.
Whether sought after for its distinctive appearance or its low-maintenance nature, this member of the yam family undoubtedly serves as a captivating addition to any collection of plants.
DOLL’S EYE PLANT (Actaea pachypoda)
The Doll’s Eye Plant, scientifically known as Actaea pachypoda, is a peculiar and rather unsettling species. Often referred to as white baneberry, this plant possesses an eerie appearance that can send shivers down one’s spine.
Its red stems serve as a stark contrast to the white berries it bears, which are adorned with deep purple “pupils” at their centers, creating an unsettling resemblance to a multitude of watchful eyes.
The mere sight of this plant can instill a sense of unease, but the true terror lies in its toxicity. Native to North America, the Doll’s Eye Plant contains toxic properties that can have severe consequences if encountered.
Merely touching this plant can result in painful blisters forming on the skin, while ingesting it can prove fatal.
Thus, it is imperative to approach this species with utmost caution, and perhaps even consider avoiding it altogether for the sake of one’s well-being.
DRESS THE GARDEN IN BLACK
When it comes to creating a visually striking and unique garden, one might consider dressing it in black. While there may not be any plants that are truly black, there are several deep purple varieties that can certainly fit the bill.
One such option is the black mondo grass, which boasts a rich and dark hue that can add a touch of elegance to any garden.
Additionally, there are various types of coral bells that come in shades of deep purple, such as Black Knight, Primo Black Pearl, Grand Black, and Obsidian.
These plants not only provide a striking visual contrast but also bring a sense of depth and richness to the garden.
If you are looking to incorporate a touch of black into your garden, you may also consider Chocoholic or James Compton snakeroot, Black Lace elderberry, Onyx and Pearls, Blackbeard or Midnight Masquerade beardtongue, and Black Delight viola.
These plants offer a range of textures and shapes, further enhancing the overall aesthetic of the garden. By carefully selecting and combining these deep purple varieties, one can create a truly captivating and enchanting space that is sure to impress both visitors and passersby.
OR, KEEP IT SIMPLE
If you prefer a more minimalist approach to gardening, then opting for simplicity can indeed be a wise choice. To achieve this, consider incorporating some orange and black(ish) pansies into your flower beds and planters.
These vibrant and versatile flowers are known for their ability to bloom consistently until the arrival of frost, and they will even reemerge in full splendor the following spring, unless they are unfortunately succumbed to the scorching heat of summer.
By adorning your outdoor spaces with these charming blossoms, you can effortlessly infuse a touch of color and elegance into your surroundings, while still maintaining an uncomplicated and refined aesthetic.