From the Dark Side

Bob Stadnyk, April 11, 2024

Bob Stadnyk
Bob Stadnyk, Annuals/Tropicals Department Manager

Call them unique, mysterious, exotic, and bordering on sinister: black flowers bring a touch of mystique and elegance to any garden, whether outdoors or part of an indoor tropical plant collection.


For starters, on the tropical side there is a very exotic, novel winner that always creates a flurry of interest once the flowers open. This is the bat flower (Tacca chantrieri). It is known as one of the most unusual plants in the world. A member of the yam family, the flower upon close inspection looks like a bat, with its wing shaped bracts and the true flowers in the centre resembling bat faces. Other names for this plant include cat’s whiskers and tiger beard. There is also a white flowered species (T. integrifolia) which grows twice as large as the black.


Tacca chantrieri
The bizarre inflorescence of the black bat flower (Tacca chantrieri).

For outdoor gardens, Viola ‘Black Magic’ is a good one for the cooler times of year. By allowing them to self sow, they can be enjoyed for years. Don’t forget black flowering hellebores or Lenten roses (Helleborus spp.) such as ‘Dark and Handsome’ which enjoys a sheltered location in full to part shade.


Black foliage also adds a major element to garden design, especially with plants like Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ or Sedum ‘Night Embers’.

Heuchera Obsidian
The dramatic foliage of 'Obsidian' coralbells, a reliable perennial for the shade garden.

On the bulb side of things, Tulipa ‘Queen of the Night’ and the showy statuesque Persian lily (Fritillaria persica), as well as black calla lilies native to South Africa make a unique addition whether planted in the ground or used in containers.

Cosmos Black Magic
'Black Magic' cosmos looks fabulous in annual containers.

Some other plants that often feature black flowers you’ll find at Greenland include perennials such as daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.) and columbines (Aquilegia spp.); annuals such as Dahlia, petunia, and cosmos; and the darkest of roses, ‘Black Baccara’, just to name a few. Come visit us if you want to introduce an element of intrigue into the garden “from the dark side”!