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.
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'
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:
Chartreuse or yellow leaved options are:
Another design dilemma to avoid is planting your ebony beauties surrounded by dark mulch.
About the Author
KERRY ANN MENDEZ is an award-winning garden educator, author and design consultant based in southern Maine. Her latest book is The Budget-Wise Gardener. You'll now find her at Estabrook's consulting on garden design, answering your gardening questions and much more. Plus, check out her Garden Webinar series for more tips and tricks.