5 black things for you to try in the garden

‘Do black flowers really exist?’

It’s one of those recurring arguments in the gardening world, as people rightly exclaim that black does NOT exist. However, we have deep, deep purples and maroons to keep us satisfied. Many of us become obsessed with black flowers, in fact author Karen Platt has been able to hunt down thousands during her career and has written about them many times.

Black flowers can be hard to place in a garden setting, however. To my mind, you have two choices; either set them out as a spectacle in a decorative container, or mix them with softer colours of the border, and they’ll really stand out!

My list of ‘black flower crushes’ is way longer than I can write about in just one article, but here are 5 black flowers to get you gossiping!

Remember you can often click on a photo to buy the variety, or a similar substitute, in Europe.

ONE. Tulip ‘Paul Scherer’. There are many black-flowered Tulips around, and some are quite well-known such as ‘Queen of the Night’. However, after many years of trudging the bulbfields, I’m convinced that ‘Paul Scherer’ is the DARKEST tulip, but it also gets the award for hardest name to pronounce!

Tulips are easier to grow than you might think too. They grow from a bulb, which is planted in November, and flowers the next spring, yet needs minimal care in between! Black tulips are really a deep maroon, but they’re black enough to be the drama queen in your border!

Black Tulips shimmer in the sunlight!

TWO. Iris ‘Before the Storm’. I was a witness to the beauty of Bearded Iris from a very young age, as my Nana had huge patches of them in her garden. Gosh, she never had a black though! She would love to see this!

Bearded (German) Iris have a short-flowering season, but damn, they’re worth it! Everything about the plant is theatrical, from the flared foliage to the bulging bud, not to mention that remarkable dark flower. ‘Before the Storm’ is often billed as being the darkest available, and attracted a lot of attention at last year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show!

Bearded Iris ‘Before the Storm’ by Robert F. Gabella

THREE. Petunia ‘Black Velvet’. There are rumours that the black genetics of this Petunia are subject to some kind of copyright protection, such was the breeding breakthrough of ‘Black Velvet’!

A startling specimen for patio pots and bedding schemes, I think this black looks most spectacular with yellows and oranges.. very Halloween!! This surely classifies as a ‘hipster bedding plant’ too!

The dark and handsome blooms of ‘Black Velvet’

FOUR. The Bat Plant (Tacca chantrieri). Not for the faint-hearted, either in it’s looks or growing requirements! Actually related to the Yam family, Tacca needs has tropical care needs- similar to orchids- and is a challenge to grow.

Possibly getting the award for ‘most haunting flower’, the Tacca is fascinating and the vinyl, lush green foliage plays a great supporting role to those sexy flowers!

The haunting Bat Plant!

FIVE. Tomato Indigo Rose. Let’s shake things up to finish with a BLACK FRUIT! Change your world of salsa, soup and salad! These deep maroon fruits are also really good for you too, with higher levels of anthocyanins than it’s red cousins!

Fruits are juicy, and ripe once the skin loses it’s shine, and the fruit has changed to black all over. They look good on the plant AND on your plate! Try them out.

Think of all the things you could make with a black tomato!

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