Our Favorite Black Plants

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When it comes to garden color, we're embracing a new palette: plants with deep, dark foliage for a hint of black in the landscape. On a recent visit to the nursery at Styer's, we gathered our favorite plants in shades of black, burgundy, purple, and deep green. We love these moody specimens as an unexpected contrast to bright blooms, or clustered together for a sophisticated look.  Learn more about the eight plants in our lineup, below.

1. Aralia elegantissima: Also known as 'false aralia,' this evergreen shrub is native to New Caledonia, an archipelago of islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean. Its lacy leaves are dark green in color with toothed edges; in fall, it produces clusters of pale green flowers, followed by black fruit. When cultivated as a house plant, it can grow up to 6 feet tall over several years. To achieve an especially dark hue, place Aralia in bright, indirect light.

2. 'Black Pearl' Ornamental Pepper: Very tolerant to heat and humidity, this decorative annual will produce black foliage when placed in full sun. The pearl-like black peppers will turn to cherry red as they mature. These petite peppers are technically edible, but approach with caution, as most varieties are quite spicy!

3. Pseuderanthemum 'Black Varnish': Popular for its distinctive foliage, this vibrant annual produces deeply veined oval leaves with an eggplant-hued surface and maroon underside. Tiny, purple and white blooms appear in spring, but the glossy leaves make this plant a garden standout. In autumn, 'Black Varnish' will fade to a deep maroon that complements fall foliage. 

4. Black Mondo Grass: A classic choice for ground cover, rock gardens and container plantings, this grass produces dense clumps of purplish-black foliage. Dark lavender flowers give way to purple berries in the fall for added interest. Native to Japan, this perennial can remain evergreen over mild winters.

5. Alternanthera dentata 'Rubiginosa': Commonly known as 'Christmas Clover' joyweed, this tropical perennial is native to the West Indies and Brazil. Its deep maroon leaves are lance-shaped with toothed margins, and will take on their best color if placed in full sun and bright light. Due to its tropical origins, Alternanthera is very sensitive to cold and frost; in most climates, it is best grown as a house plant.

6. Dahlia 'Dalaya Devi': Though the foliage of this dahlia is a traditional green, its striking blooms are a deep, dramatic burgundy. An especially long blooming season makes it a source of sustained color in the garden. It also attracts beneficial butterflies and bees to your landscape.

7. 'Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Purple' Sweet Potato Vine: Great for use as annual groundcover or a trailing accent in hanging baskets, this ornamental sweet potato vine is adaptable to sun and shade. However, its foliage will achieve a deeper red hue in sunny conditions. Fast-growing, this vine flourishes in high heat and humidity. Though ornamental sweet potatoes will produce tubers, they tend to be starchy and are generally considered inedible. 

8. Canna 'Australia Red': A tropical show-stopper, this massive Canna lily can grow up to 4 feet tall. Native to Central and South America, most cannas prefer sunny environments with moist soil. From July through September, 'Australia Red' will produce tall stalks of iris-like flowers in vivid crimson. 

Ready for a garden refresh? Find these plants and more in the nursery at your local store

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