With Halloween around the corner, let’s talk about creepy plants. Not poisonous-creepy or lethal toxin-creepy, but plants that have a mysterious aesthetic to them.
Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ is an ornate looking shrub with twisty branches and wavy crinkled leaves. In early spring around March, its branches drip long, yellow catkins. By fall its leaves turn yellow and fall to reveal its interesting branches to admire all winter. It is best to plant this in a container to eliminate suckering.
Purple Fountain Beech, Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea Pendula’ is a tree with rich purple, glossy, rounded leaves that cloak the cascading branches. With a narrow silhouette, strong upright form and slow growing tendency, little to no pruning is necessary to maintain the eerie-looking tree.
Weeping White Pine, pinus strubus ‘Pendula’ is a smaller cultivar in the white pine family. The branches grow irregularly downward and spread up to 12 feet tall and wide at maturity. In Naturalized or Asian gardens these are not spooky but out of context they can look a bit ghostly.
Witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana is a vase shaped shrub that bears golden blooms in the fall. During the summer, it is green wavy leaves that turn yellow to orange in the fall. Once the leaves have fallen, the flowers will emerge. There are hybrid varieties that will bloom only in the spring so if fall blooms are what you are looking for double check before selecting your specimen plant.
Big Blue Stem Grass ‘Blackhawks, Andropogon gerardii ‘Blackhawks’ is a new stand-out cultivar grown for its foliage color. It has an upright form and its foliage starts dark green but begins to turn purple in August as nights cool and is nearly black by late September. This grass will reach up to 4-5 feet tall at maturity.
Snakeroot ‘Pink Spike’, Cimicifuga ramose ‘Pink Spike’ is deep purple foliage perennial that likes a shady location. In the summer it shoots out light pink candle-like flowers that last until the end of October. Grows up to 3 feet tall and wide and its flowers are amazingly fragrant.
Goth-black mondo grass, Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ is another black foliage grass that is much smaller reaching only 1 foot tall at maturity. This grass makes a great no mow option as it spreads like a ground cover. Looks especially spooky with purple and orange annuals.
Black Scallop or Mahogany Ajuga, Ajuga reptans ‘Black Scallop’ or ‘Mahogany’ is a ground cover that loves shade. Its thick black foliage makes this a spooky plant as well as drought tolerant. In the spring bears contrasting blue flower spikes until the end of May.
Boston Ivy, Parthenocissus tricuspidata is a vine that will grow to cover any wall. You know those abended houses in horror movies, this is that gothic looking vine that turns red in the fall. When the leaves fall off you are left with vein like stems still gripping the wall waiting for spring leaves to return.
Purple and Orange Pansies, Viola are cool season annuals. When planted in September, they will flower until it snows. They tend to over winter and bloom again in the spring.
Black Sweet Potato Vine, Ipomoea ‘Jet Black’ or ‘Blackie’ are trailing vines with a deep purple, almost black foliage color. Planted with other spooky annuals make excellent Halloween container arrangements.
Coleus ‘Wicked Witch’, Solenostemon ‘Wicked Witch’ is a large annual grown for its colorful foliage. This variety has a deep reddish-purple leaf with wavy lime green margins that contrast and pop in the landscape. When it starts to flower, pinch them off to allow the foliage to last longer.
Ornamental Peppers ‘Sangria’, Capsicum annuum ‘Sangria’ is a fall only ornamental pepper that bears red and purple peppers. This would make a great filler to any fall container arrangement.
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