No other colour gets as much attention as black. While purists would argue that black is not a true colour, rather it is the absence of light, black creates interest, denotes sophistication and adds a sense of opulence to the landscape.
Black plants are excellent for creating contrast and interest. Position them in light areas. Avoid hiding them in the shade as they can get lost. Pair black-foliaged plants with lime or light greens, yellows, pinks and a variety of other colours for great effect. As they say in fashion, black goes with everything.
While there are very few true black foliaged plants, there are a number that are dark purple, dark red and near-black. Below are a few of our favourite black foliaged plants.
Black Lace Elderberry
Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’
Black Lace has intense purple black foliage that is finely cut. Has an appearance vaguely similar to a Japanese Maple. Creamy pink flowers appear in spring. Very cold hardy and easy to grow. Prefers sun to part shade. Grows to 6ft tall and wide.
Sambucus ‘Black Tower’
Black Tower Elderberry
While it may be the second Sambucus on our list, it may actually be more striking. Deep purple, almost black foliage make it a great contrast item with anything in your yard that’s green, golden or pink. Blooms with bunches of pink flowers throughout the summer. Also makes a great stand-alone plant too! Black Towers gets its name from its upright or columnar style growth habit making it ideal for todays smaller yards. Prefers full sun. Grows 6-8ft tall and 3-4ft wide.
Black Mondo Grass
This classic, extremely popular ornamental grass features true black, strap-like leaves forming in slowly spreading clumps. Excellent in containers, as a groundcover or in the garden. Prefers shade to part shade. Grows to 10 inches in height.
Black Scallop Ajuga
Ajuga reptans ‘Binblasca’
This low growing plant features dark burgundy, almost black foliage with scalloped edges. Many small spikes of deep blue flowers bloom in late spring to early summer. Grows 3-6 inches tall and up to 36 inches wide. Planting in full sun with produce darker coloured leaves. Prefers little to moderate watering and any soil as long as it is well drained. Hardy to zone 7.
Dark Horse Weigela
Weigela florida ‘Dark Horse’
Dark bronze foliage with lime-green venation combines with purplish-pink tubular flowers to create a dramatic statement in the garden. Neat, compact habit is easy to maintain. Dark Horse Weigela is a perfect accent or an element in the shrub border. Deciduous. Best when grown in full sun. Grows to 3ft tall and wide. Hardy in USDA zones 4-8
Fine Wine Weigela
Weigela florida ‘Bramwell’
The second Weigela on our list, Fine Wine, is a compact plant with abundant hot pink flowers in spring and colourful purple foliage all summer. It is smaller than many other varieties and has a neat growth habit. Adaptable to many planting conditions but prefers moist, well-drained soil in the full sun. Excellent as a foundation plant or in a border. Deer resistant.
Actea simplex ‘Brunette
Formerly known as Cimicifuga, this gorgeous dark foliage plant has deeply cut, serrated foliage that emerges emerald green, maturing to brilliant dark purple. Towering creamy-white, slender bottlebrush flowers are fragrant as is the foliage. A standout in the shaded border, woodland or cottage garden. Prefers full to part shade and wet or constantly moist soil. Grows to 2ft tall and wide with flower spikes reaching 5-6ft. Also available is it’s darker foliaged cousin ‘Hillside Black Beauty’.
A number of varieties of Ninebark are dark foliaged. While most are not true black, they still provide great contrast and foliage for the garden. Notable dark varieties include ‘Diablo’, ‘Center Glow’ and ‘Tiny Wine’ . As there name indicates, these plants also offer layers of peeling, flaking bark for additional interest in the garden.
Platt's Black New Zealand Flax
Phormium ‘Platts Black’
Strong, upright growing spiky foliage with a dark red-black colour adds great structural interest to containers and gardens. Prefers a location in full sun and well drained soil. Protect in winter. Grows to a height of 3ft and 2ft across. Evergreen in warmer climates.
Purple Copper Beech
Fagus sylvatica var purpurea
This upright growing tree features flossy, veined, dark purple leaves that turn coppery red in Autumn. Excellent specimen tree. Prefers sun to part sun and well drained soils. Grows to a height of 25ft and 15ft across.
That wraps up our spotlight on black foliaged plants. There are others, including dark leaved Dahlias, Dark leaved Canna Lilies, certain succulents and others. As always, call ahead, 604.882.1201, to confirm availability if you are making a special trip to see us.