Plants with black flowers and dark foliage are uncommon and defy our expectations of nature. It is their very difference that makes them so appealing, as we humans seem to be drawn to anomalies.
They are useful in garden design, partly because they are curiosities. By weaving these strangely wonderful plants into our gardens, we can add interest, intrigue and sophistication.
To make the most of them follow these guidelines:
Marry dark with light.
To maximize the impact of dark-colored flowers and foliage, look for opportunities to create contrast. Interesting color partners include lime green, silver, white, cream, pale yellow, lavender and soft pink.
Don’t hide them in the shadows.
Dark-colored plants are difficult to see in the shade. Planting them in a sunny spot is far more effective. Dark glossy petals and shiny black leaves take on a silvery sheen in the sun, adding another level of visual interest. Sunlight typically intensifies deep pigments, so most of these plants are at their darkest when grown in the sun.
Venture beyond the garden.
Plants with dark flowers and foliage are as exciting in the landscape as they are in containers and perennial gardens. Look for shrubs such as Sambucus ‘Black Lace’ (ornamental elderberry), Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ (purple smokebush) and Berberis ‘Crimson Pygmy’ (red-leaf barberry).
Bring them indoors, too.
High-end florists love black flowers for their chic style and elegance. Give your flower arrangements a touch of magic by growing cut flower favorites such as Dahlia ‘Nuit d’Ete’, Gladiolus ‘Espresso’, Allium atropurpureum, Zantedeschia ‘Night Cap’, Scabiosa ‘Black Knight’ and Centaurea ‘Black Gem.’
Written by Katheen LaLiberte
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