Hauntingly Beautiful Foliage

By Kerry Ann Mendez

With Halloween just a few weeks away, it seemed like a fun idea to write about plants with "scary" black leaves.

Truly black leaves are actually a rarity, but there are some extremely dark purple, brown and green that appear close to black. Black foliage will add wonderful drama to gardens or containers and a simple black plant can make an elegant statement, especially when paired with contrasting bright colors.

Black-Leaved Plants

Below are some hauntingly black choices for your landscape:


  • Heuchera 'Blackout' and 'Black Sea'
  • Actaea (Cimicifuga) 'Hillside Black Beauty'
  • Penstemon 'Blackbeard'
  • Hibiscus 'Starry Starry Night'

Flowering Shrubs:

  • Sambucus 'Black Lace'
  • Ninebark
  • Weigela
  • Smokebush
Companion Plants for Shade

Be careful when using black in the shade, as it can be difficult to see. To offset this, use companion plants or groundcovers with silver or chartreuse foliage as "illuminators".

Shade perennials with silver leaves include:

  • Lamium
  • Brunnera
  • Pulmonaria

Chartreuse or yellow leaved options are:

  • Aralia 'Sun King'
  • Creeping Jenny
  • Hakone Grass
  • Hosta

Another design dilemma to avoid is planting your ebony beauties surrounded by dark mulch.