Gardening is a personal thing and one shouldn’t be swayed by fashion or what the experts think. Your garden should please you. Some people like black plants. I don’t. Actually, black stems and fruit are fine, mahagony leaves are acceptable as are purple ones, but black leaves and black flowers? No, just makes me think of death and disease. Plus black flowers often look like shadows and leaves just blend in with the mulch, so why bother?
Of the black(ish) plants that are out there, the blackest I know is black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’)*, and it’s quite popular.
By standards other than color, black mondo grass is a good plant for small yards and busy gardeners. It is everblack and needs cutting back only when it starts to look tatty (usually every few years). It isn’t excessively thirsty. It doesn’t try and take over. But for me, all these positive qualities mean nothing because at the end of the day, black mondo grass is still black. (There is a nice green one, Ophiopogon planiscapus.)
Then there are those black-flowered plants like the sooty hellebores shown above. With so many subtle shades to choose from, why choose a hellebore the color of ashes? Other black flowered plants that I’ll take a miss on are the columbines, irises, hollyhocks and whatever else now has black flowers.
I will admit that I do think black mondo grass can be a great addition to a pot. Pots can be more about art than nature so why not black plants?
I might be wrong about the mondo grass, my 11 year old son thinks so. He likes the shine to the leaves and the way they look against the rocks. If you come down in his camp, or are generally a fan of black plants, feel free to send along an irate comment or pictures in their defense.
*If you do want to plant some black mondo grass, go to the Great Plant Picks website to learn more. Also, a book came out a few years ago just on black plants, Black Plants, 75 Striking Plants for the Garden by Paul Bonine, if they are your thing check it out.