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Add Drama with Black Flowers & Foliage

By: Garden Gate staff
Anywhere in your garden, these plants stun with dark blossoms and foliage.

Add drama with black flowers & foliage

Black tends to be serious and oh so chic! It’s edgy and modern and is making its fearless way into the garden. Plants with black flowers and foliage have the ability to change the effect of your entire garden. Do you want to cool down hot colors? How about heat up cool colors? Black flowers and foliage could be the answer. Add sophistication to the garden with this moody shade. Scroll on to learn some design tips for plants with dark blossoms and foliage.

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Designing with black in the garden

Black functions in the garden much as it does in the world of fashion. It is a base color, a neutral that works well with all other colors. Since it isn’t as commonplace in gardens as in most wardrobes, black flowers and foliage add unexpected drama to the landscape. Variations in shades and tints exist, just like the purples, blues and other colors for your garden. Combine several black-foliaged plants with varying leaf sizes and textures for an unusual and sophisticated combination.

Black mondo grass in a garden bed with sedum: The color contrast between chartreuse hakonechloa, golden sedum and black mondo grass creates interest.

The secret to success with black flowers & plants

Pair black foliage with a lighter, brighter counterpart, such as chartreuse or gold. This will intensify the black and help it stand out. Here, the chartreuse ribbons of ‘Aureola’ hakonechloa and ‘Angelina’ sedum provide great contrast for the striking black matte foliage of the black mondo grass. It’s like a dark wave intensifying the design’s rhythm.

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Designing with Black flowers and plants, Using black as a focal point:  Start incorporating pops of black into your garden with containers and statement plants.

Create a focal point with black flowers

Want to add a touch of drama but not quite ready for too much black? Take a first step and introduce black focal points, such as a container or specimen plant. The black container provides a strong foundation color for the contrasting chartreuse-colored sweet potato vine while also giving the eye a place to rest between the dominant red chair and door.

In the second image, the ‘Black Magic’ elephant ear rises up from the bed to provide a visual break in the mass of zinnias. The black adds intrigue and a tropical flair to your garden.

Meet these unique plants with black flowers or foliage

Inspired to add a few plants with black flowers and foliage to your garden? Start with one of our suggestions below. Technically, these flowers aren’t really black — they’re deep shades of purple and burgundy. But in the garden, they’re the closest thing you’ll find to this deep hue. Whether it’s dark burgundy, deep maroon or rich glossy purple, these plants will bring drama to borders big and small!

fp-d-black-flowers-foliage-Petunia: Black velvet petunia has dark purple almost black blooms.

Black Velvet™ petunia (Petunia)

Petunias are great in containers — get the most blooms when you add slow-release fertilizer while planting and a water-soluble fertilizer like Miracle-Gro® every week all summer. Lightly shear back leggy stems in midsummer to help Black Velvet petunia keep its mounded habit.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Deep purple-black from midspring through frost Light Full sun Size 8 to 12 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

Blacknight hollyhock: 'Blacknight' hollyhock will reward you with blooms even in its first year unlike some hollyhocks.

‘Blacknight’ hollyhock (Alcea rosea)

Single-style red almost black blooms blooms cover each tall flower spike reaching up to 6 feet tall. This series of Hollyhock is truly perennial; flowers blooming reliably with first-year performance. Works great in the back of the border or along a fence.

Type Perennial Blooms 4-in. red-black flowers in summer, this cultivar is perennial, not biennial like other hollyhocks Light Full sun Size 60 to 72 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

fp-d-black-flowers-foliage-MondoGrass: Add black mondo grass to containers for as a single specimen or into a mixed planting for contrast.

‘Nigrescens’ black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus )

The dark blades of black mondo grass are a great contrast in containers and make for a strikingly bold edging in any border as it slowly spreads. Light pink bell-shaped flowers bloom on dark stems in late summer, while dark purple berries add interest in fall. Just be sure to keep it well-watered, especially in heat.

Type Perennial Blooms Light pink flowers in summer, dark purple berries in fall, dark purplish black foliage Light Full sun to part shade Size 5 to 7 in. tall, 10 to 12 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy USDA zones 6 to 10

fp-d-black-flowers-foliage-pansy: Satiny black flowers of 'Black Devil' pansy add a unique look to cool-season borders and containers.

‘Black Devil’ pansy (Viola)

Like all pansies, ‘Black Devil’ grows best in cool weather. Deadheading spent flowers keeps blooms coming as long as possible. In the colder hardiness zones, adding a layer of mulch in winter can improve its survival.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Satiny black with small yellow-orange centers in spring and fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 6 to 9 in. tall, 10 to 12 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8

fp-d-black-flowers-foliage-SweetPotato: Try the classic sweet potato vine in a purple hue like Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Jet Black for added interest in containers.

Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Jet Black sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas)

This purple sweet potato vine makes a bold impact in your containers and hanging baskets or as a ground cover in the front of your borders! It grows in sunny or shady spots, although the color will be deeper and more vibrant when planted in a location that gets full sun. It grows vigorously, but you can trim the vines at any time to keep it in bounds.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Foliage heart-shaped deep purple-black Light Full sun to part shade Size 6 to 16 in. tall, 20 to 36 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11

Japanese cobra lily: This unique flower is found in early spring in woodlands.

Japanese cobra lily (Arisaema sikokianum)

The dramatic-looking Japanese cobra lily, a cousin to US native Jack-in-the pulpit, adds a range of color to the garden with white and purple flowers that become bright orange seedheads in fall. They can reseed enthusiastically, forming a small colony just waiting to be discovered each spring.

Type Bulb Blooms White spring flowers surrounded by dark purple turn into red-orange seedheads in early fall Light Part to full shade Size 12 to 20 in. tall, 12 to 20 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9

Black flowers and plants Black Barlow Columbine: 'Black Barlow' columbine is easy to grow and makes a great cut flower in spring.

‘Black Barlow’ columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris stellata)

Columbine is an easy-to-grow perennial, and often self-sows in the garden. It makes a wonderful companion to late-spring bulbs. Keep the soil on the dry side — too much water canstart root rot, and the plants often won’t survive winter in wet soil. It makes for a great cut flower.

Type Perennial Blooms Double, upward facing, almost black flowers with no spurs Size 24 to 30 in. tall by 18 in. wide Light Full sun to part shade Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8

Calla lily Zantedeschia Black Star: Deep burgundy blooms of 'Black Star' calla lily are an elegant addition to the garden.

‘Black Star’ calla lily (Zantedeschia)

Maroon-tipped lance-shaped leaves accent the deep burgundy calla lily flowers. This unusual-looking plant is at home in tropical-inspired gardens as well as formal, elegant ones. After the first frost, dig up tubers, cut back foliage and let them dry completely before storing them in peat moss indoors for the winter.

Type Tuber Blooms Purple-black flowers from summer to fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 12 to 18 in. tall, 9 to 12 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11

Black flowers and plants Black Lace elderberry: Add interest with the deep purple foliage of Black Lace elderberry.

Black Lace elderberry (Sambucus nigra porphyrophylla)

With its finely cut deep purple foliage, this shrub makes a more cold-tolerant alternative to japanese maples. Attractive deep red berries in fall follow the early summer pink blooms. Though Black Lace grows to 8 feet, you can prune it back hard if you want to grow it in a smaller space.

Type Shrub Blooms Lacy purple-black foliage all season, pink flowers in early summer Light Full sun to part shade Size 6 to 8 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Purple Majesty Ornamental millet: Dark purple seedheads of 'Purple Majesty' ornamental millet are attractive and great for feeding the birds.

‘Purple Majesty’ ornamental millet (Pennisetum glaucum)

Purple, straplike leaves with red midribs and spiky deep purple seedheads are striking and noticeable from afar. Plus the seedheads draw birds in for a snack. While it can tolerate almost any growing conditions, from extreme heat and low moisture to cool and damp, ornamental millet does best with a light feeding of a water-soluble fertilizer every time you water. It's a great thriller for a fall container.

Type Tender perennial (Usually grown as an annual) Bloom Brown-black spikes in summer Light Full sun Size 48 to 60 in. tall, 9 to 12 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11

Black Magic elephant ear: This dark foliage of 'Black Magic' elephant ear makes a great thriller in a container planting.

‘Black Magic’ elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta)

With leaves that grow up to 2 feet long, this tropical plant is a dramatic choice for a container or specimen plant. Because they tolerate wet conditions, they are at home near a pond or in moist soils. Dig up tubers after the first frost, cut back foliage, let dry and then store in peat moss or wood shavings for the winter in areas where they are not hardy.

Type Bulb Bloom Insignificant blooms; broad, black heart-shaped leaves Light Full sun to part shade Size 3 to 6 feet tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zone 8 to 10

Tulip Tulipa hybrid 'Black Parrot': This almost black tulip also sports handsome feathered edges.

‘Black Parrot’ tulip (Tulipa hybrid )

To folks who think of spring as all pastel colors, late-season ‘Black Parrot’ tulip will be a surprise. This dark flower has feathered edges, looking like a tropical bird about to take flight. Perhaps you prefer a simpler tulip shape, not so ruffled and fringed. Plant ‘Queen of Night’ or double ‘Black Hero’ — they come in similar deep tones. Tulip bulbs go in the ground in the fall. They need a spot in well-drained soil that will get full sun in spring, although it’s fine if the beds are in shade after the flowers fade.

Type Bulb Blooms Dark flower with feathered edges in late spring Light Full sun Size 20 in. tall by 4 to 6 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

Black pearl ornamental pepper: This ornamental pepper looks great in containers or in the ground.

‘Black Pearl’ ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum)

Plant ‘Black Pearl’ pepper in a sun-drenched spot and it will produce bushy clumps of lustrous, jet-black leaves. (The foliage is more of a purple-blushed green if shaded, so give it the very brightest site you can.) Small purple flowers are followed by clusters of glossy peppers that turn from black to red as they ripen. Though it’s normally used as an ornamental, you can eat this pepper, too: just be prepared, because it’s a hot one!

Type Tender perennial Fruit Black to red 1-in.-wide, rounded to pointed peppers from late summer to frost Light Full sun Soil Average, well-drained Size 14 to 18 in. tall, 12 to 16 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11 

Chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus ChocoMocha')

‘ChocoMocha’ chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus )

It’s not just deep maroon flowers but an alluring chocolatey scent that makes this plant truly charming. It keeps on blooming right through heat and drought. Surprisingly different from the cosmos you may be familiar with, this tender perennial forms tuberous roots. Purchase mature plants and dig up their tubers in the fall and store in peat moss to overwinter.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Brown-red flowers in summer Light Full sun Size 10 to 36 in. tall, 12 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 7 to 11

Published: Oct. 30, 2018
Updated: Oct. 30, 2023

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