Last week, we posted the first half of our Top Ten series for a black and purple themed garden. Since then, we’ve spread some grass seed, planted some Creeping Thyme seeds and are now nurturing a potted flower one of the Hammerlings got me for Mother’s Day, but left at school. We’ll see if the poor thing bounces back.
Back on track, here are our favourite black plants:
Number 1: Black Mondo Grass
A staple for black groundcovers, Mondo Grass grows well in full to partial sun, and thrives in soil that retains some moisture. It has tiny pink blossoms and these incredible blackish/purplish leaves that just look decadent. Perfect for borders and rock gardens.
Number 2: Black Bamboo
Bamboo is, in some areas, considered an invasive weed, so check your locality guidelines before planting. If you’re good to get them in soil, bamboo is a lovely screening plant if you want a bit of privacy from neighbours. The shoots can be harvested and used for all sorts of diy-ing, including fencing, making portable screens, blinds, etc. Black bamboo is my personal favourite, for the delightful contrast between jet black shoot and crystal-green leaves. Bamboos do have large root systems, forcing offshoots up all over the place, so if you want to keep them contained, plant the bamboo in a concrete pot in the ground, so the roots can’t spread.
Number 3: Black Forest Calla Lily
Calla Lilies are classy additions to the garden, and easy to grow. They do not like the cold, so plant only in warm environs, or indoors in a pot near a sunny window. Poke the tuber into the ground, leaving some of the tip showing above the soil in spring (after frost), give them fertiliser in loose, well-drained soil, then watch them grow. If you live in a warm climate, just leave them in the ground after their flowering season has finished. They’ll take care of themselves. If you live anywhere that receives frost in winter, it is best to dig them up and store the plants somewhere dark over the winter months. That just seems like too much work for us – good thing we live in a very warm climate!
Number 4: Elephant Ear Black Magic
Fairly obvious why these are called ‘Elephant Ears’. These plants can grow in boggy soil, or small ponds. They can also be grown in well composted, warm soil. They flourish through summer and die back during winter. Black Magic does not like frost or wind. They also come in purple, which is pretty exciting for us and our colour theme!
Number 5: Black Bat Flower image source
While this flower is one of the most unusual we’ve seen, and would absolutely be a worthy addition to any garden, it is, straight-up, a high-maintenance endeavour. The plant requires full shade, acidic fertiliser and porous soil. It also needs to be repotted every season to release the roots and transplant the offshoots. They grow through the warm months, so if you want to take it on, begin when you’ve got a few months of warm weather ahead.
Number 6: Black Cordyline
These are tropical plants, and as such, need that warm climate. They don’t do well in cold, and definitely not in frost. As in a rainforest, they love filtered sunlight and soil with good drainage.
Number 7: Zwartkop
Oh yes, that’s what this plant is called. Zwartkop. I want one just so I can tell people my garden has Zwartkops. But it’s pretty darn funky-looking, too. They can grow up to 1m when left ‘in the wild’, but if you don’t want a Mega Succulent, keep it in a pot to contain the growth. It is, as I just said, a succulent, so they’re pretty hardy, but not great in frosty climes.
I’m beginning to see a bit of a pattern here with the black plants and frost . . .
Number 8: Black Dragon Coleus
It looks a bit like boilings of lava, this black edged, red-hearted foliage. These guys are super easy to grow indoors or out. They like partial shade outside, and for the most part, the flowers are removed immediately – the blooms are humdrum, and take nutrients away from the amazing leaves. Keep the early growth pinched off to make a bushier plant. Black Dragon grows to a height of around 30cm/1′.
Number 9: Black Ipomoeaimage source
The foliage on this plant turns black during autumn. Until then, it’s more of a deep purple. This plant is very tough, withstanding temperatures in excess of 40°C. If it gets too cold (less than 4°C), they will go into dormancy until the next growing season. Great for large scale groundcover.
Number 10: The Mulberry image source
Yep, this one isn’t technically a black plant. It does bear a purplish/blackish fruit, and that’s close enough. I love mulberries, so they could go on any plant list, as far as I’m concerned. The fruit is delicious, the plant is tough and easy to grow. You can prune it or let it run rampant. They grow in pots or in the ground. They can even have several fruiting seasons in a single year . Mulberries do attract more than little human fingers. Birds and wildlife love the fruit, too.
Definitely got a few must-haves in that list. Which is your favourite? I kinda like the bat flower for originality.