I’ve gone to the dark side, of plants, that is. But in the plant world, even the dark side is pretty. And rich. And dramatic. And just the punch my embarrassingly bare front porch needs this time of year. According to Dana Rizzo, horticulturist for the Missouri Botanical Garden, the industry is seeing an influx of these black, bronze, deep purple and burgundy flowers and foliage. “Dark hued flowers allow gardeners to show an extreme contrast in their designs,” she says. “Deep black foliage plays well with limes and yellows. Bronzes are complemented with oranges and reds and yellows. Deep magentas alongside dark purples shock the eye. It's fun and playful.”
In pursuit of some wow, I went to my local home improvement store and landed on a container that put the mix together for me. The dark flowers: Supertunia Bordeaux Petunia hybrid, a gorgeous petunia with a deep purple center that fades to a softer shade, and striking Superbena Royale Plum Wine Verbena hybrid. The lighter flower: Superbells Coralberry Punch Calibrachoa hybrid, a smaller light coral bloom that shines against the deep purple.
Here are some more stunning dark hued plants to use for contrast in your containers and gardens.
ColorBlaze Dipt in Wine coleus Jennifer Schamber, a horticulturist and general manager of Greenscape Gardens nursery in St. Louis, says ColorBlaze Dipt in Wine coleus and other dark coleus are some of their biggest sellers. “The dark hued coleus have been super hot." As the name says, this one looks like it’s been dipped in wine. Plus, it’s low-maintenance and does well in sun or shade.
‘Sriracha Violet’ Cuphea Jennifer also recommends ‘Sriracha Violet’ Cuphea, a dark purple flower that’s heat resistant. “Everytime we put these on the table, they sell out within hours,” she says.
Wizard Sun Velvet Red coleus Dana Rizzo of the Missouri Botanical Garden is using this striking red coleus in her garden this year. “I love how it creates that deep color contrast [against green],” she says.
Superbells Blackberry Punch Calibrachoa hybrid This dark purple calibrachoa is great for containers but too vigorous to put in the ground, Jennifer says. Bonus: it attracts hummingbirds.
‘Black Varnish’ Pseuderanthemum The glossy leaves “look beautiful mixed in containers,” Jennifer says. “It contrasts so wonderfully against orange tones.” Barely any maintenance required!
'Purple Variegated' Tradescantia setcreasea “My favorite deep colored foliage this year is Tradescantia setcreasea 'Purple Variegated',” Dana says.
'Sriracha Violet' Cuphea photo courtesy of National Garden Bureau; Wizard Sun Velvet Red coleus photo courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company; Superbells Blackbery Punch Calibrachoa hybrid photo and ColorBlaze Dipt in Wine coleus photo courtesy of Proven Winners.
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