Welcome to the dark side – where the goth plants grow

Welcome to the dark side – where the goth plants grow

This is where the other plants grow, the ones that defy the cheery kaleidoscope of nature. They’re black plants, some with names that underscore their eerie appearance.  They’re odd and striking and really weird. Why nature made them that way isn’t entirely clear. The compounds responsible for the deep colors, called anthocyanins, may protect the plant against intense sunlight. Or their colour may simply be a genetic quirk, the result of too much pigment being passed through the generations.

Welcome to the dark side – where the goth plants grow
Aeonium "Zwartkop"
Welcome to the dark side – where the goth plants grow
Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'

Although true-black plants are a rarity in nature, there are many dark purples, browns and greens that come close to black, and dark cultivars are being introduced at an increasing rate. Mixing in plants with dark-colored foliage can really make a difference in the landscape or containers. Of course plants with purple leaves make a great contrast with plants with lighter foliage for visual interest, but dramatic designs can be created with all dark-leaved plants for a very unusual effect.

Welcome to the dark side – where the goth plants grow
Phormium rubrum with Carex
Welcome to the dark side – where the goth plants grow
Leucodendron "Safari Sunset"

Dark foliage shows up best in full sun; dark plants in the shade tend to disappear, so it is best to limit their use in shady spots. It combines well with blue, gold and  silver. Putting a plant with dark purple leaves near another with bright chartreuse leaves makes the lighter colour really pop