Dark Foliage Plants

perennialfan273(zone 5)May 12, 2009

Ok, first of all, I wanted to say that I wasn't sure exactly where I should post this, but a lot of these plants are techincally considered perennials, so I thought this would be a good spot.

Anyways, over the past few weeks I've done some research about plants that are well known for their foliage. The reason I like dark foliage plants is because unlike plants with just green foliage, darker foliage plants add a nice contrast with your other plants. Another reason to choose foliage plants over flowering plants is because flowering plants only bloom once (some of them) and then that's it for the season, but with foliage plants you get that nice foliage for a longer period of time (sometimes all season). This is a list of plants I've found with exceptionally colorfol foliage that will add interest to your garden for years to come!!

Black Mondo Grass "Nigrescens"

Weigela Midnight Wine

Sambucus Nigra "Black Beauty"

Cotinus coggygria "Royal Purple"


Corylus Maxima "Purpurea"

Japanese Maple "Crimson Queen"

Physocarpus "Summer Wine"

Physocarpus "Diablo"

Berberis thunbergii ÂConcordeÂ

Sedum "Purple Emperor"

Sedum "Black Jack"

Purple Perilla

Purple Basils

Purple Fountain Grass

Iresine (Many)

Coleus (Many)

Phyllostachys nigra

Cimicifuga simplex "Hillside Black Beauty"

Actaea simplex "Brunette"

Persian Shield

Tradescantia Pallida "Purple Heart"

Gynura Aurantica "Purple Passion"

Rex Begonias

Cryptanthus bivittatus "Ruby"

If you know of any others, let me know! I think I got most of the really popular ones, though. If you've never heard of these, you ought to google them sometime. They're really just stunning when in the right spot.

I'd like to add some of these to my garden eventually, and I may post about this on the trading forum as well.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
coolplantsguy(z6 Ontario)

I love foliage plants as well. Here's some more dark-leaved ones.

I'm a big fan of Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Purpurea' and E. 'Bonfire'.

Sedum 'Black Jack' gets powdery mildew too easily here. I prefer 'Xenox' and 'Postman's Pride'.

Cryptotaenia japonica atropurpurea is kinda cool as well, but self-seeds like crazy. Ditto for Anthriscus sylvestris 'Ravenswing'.

Don't forget about the dark-leaved Ajugas, and the following:

Aster 'Lady in Black'
Eupatorium 'Chocolate'
Geranium maculatum 'Elizabeth Ann' and 'Espresso'
Ligularia 'Britt-Marie Crawford'
Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker' (Purpurea)
Rodgersia (most emerge dark, but fade to green)
Ricinus (Castor Bean)
Sempervivum, many

P.S. Actaea and Cimicifuga are one and the same, and there are more dark-leaved cultivars of this plant. I'm going to try 'Black Negligee' this year.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 5:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I grow eight between the two lists. Surprised myself. [g] I did go on a dark foliage mission awhile back. I could add Sedum Vera Jameson which is pretty. I thought I had Sedum Bertram Anderson which was the blackest I had, but it didn't come back for me years ago. I see photos on Dave's Garden of it that don't look that dark, but one nursery has it as dark as the one I had. I enjoy Purple Emperor when it is young, but as it get's older, the leaves can start looking ratty. They knick and the underneath color is light. Plus I don't like the way the blooms form, but I keep it. Vera Jameson is not as dark but is a lovely color and as a low sedum is very pretty and graceful.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 5:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Karchita(WA Z8)

I love purple/mahogany/burgundy foliage and have had these in my garden ...

Sweet Potato Vine, Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie'
Nandina 'Purple Passion'
Aster 'Black Prince'
Geranium 'Thundercloud'
Sedum 'Dragon's Blood'
Gaura 'Siskiyou'
Weigela 'Wine and Roses'
Hebe 'Amy'
Smoke Bush Cotinus 'Purpureus' (and others)
Hop Bush, Dodonaea viscosa 'Purpurea'
and other Japanese maples like 'Bloodgood' and 'Ever Red'

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 2:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

i am a big fan of ppl. foliage,(as well as yellow, blue, and variegated .)I grow all the z.5 hardy plants that have been mentioned so far. Berberis helmond's pillar is extremely useful in my gardens(there are many ppl berberis.) as well as ppl leaf sand cherry.good ppl tropicals include: cannas (australia is the darkest ppl. leaf), cordyline, phormiums, pineapple, colocasia. Every year i dot Pennisetum Atropurpurea(annual here) throughout the gardens- for their graceful form and strong black presence and limited spatial needs.there is a British book of all black foliage plants that you may want to have; thousands of examples and photos. i have it but don't remember the title. just google black foliage and book.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 2:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My favorite is Penstemon "Husker's Red"
Here in Zone 7 it stayed pretty all winter. I couldn't believe it didn't die back.
It roots easily from cuttings in water.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 11:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

echinaceamaniac beat be to it! Penstemon 'Husker's Red' quickly became a favorite.

Don't forget using silver foliage near dark green foliage is also attractive :)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 11:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
coolplantsguy(z6 Ontario)

Speaking of Penstemon 'Husker's Red', there's a cool new version called 'Dark Towers' with the same foliage but darker and with pink flowers.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 12:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm rather obsessed with dark, silver, chartreuse, and especially variegated foliage.

I recently bought a Siberian Iris that incorporates purple-tinged foliage in with the regular green foliage. The purple tinged foliage is especially darker near the base to about 1/2 way up the foliage. Sorry I don't have the name with me.

I don't think I have anything else not already mentioned except for one type of Weigela that I am CRAZY about and that is 'Shining Sensation'. Wow! The foliage is similar to 'Midnight Wine' but it has this shine to it that makes it appear constantly wet. My specimen is still rather young, but it's branching beautifully on its own and right now the branches are simply full of buds. The foliage is so incredibly beautiful that I don't even care if it blooms so they will be an added bonus.

I almost forgot about Lobelia cardinalis ÂQueen VictoriaÂ. She's a bit floppy, but she sure is pretty.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 2:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
coolplantsguy(z6 Ontario)

The Iris with the dark foliage at the base is likely I. 'Gerald Darby'. My experience is that it typically fades to all-green by early summer.

In any case, it is a hybrid of I. versicolor and I. virginica, so it's not really a Siberian Iris, although at first glance it can look like one. ;)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 2:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I love colored foliage and grow about a dozen of the plants mentioned in this thread or very similar cultivars. I wish I had room for the ninebarks and the elderberries. I have at least a dozen purple huecheras alone.

I do wish my 'Blierana' purple leaf plum wasn't a diseased buggy mess and that my 'Crimson Pygmy' barberries weren't three times the size that they are supposed to be.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 12:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, Coolplantsguy! I ordered Penstemon "Dark Towers" today! I love these plants. If I can root cuttings of it like "Husker's Red" I'll have these everywhere!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 12:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A favorite of mine is Chocolate Eupatorium. White bloom in the fall and dark foliage all season.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 4:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sharons2(z3-4 ID)

This is a tender plant, but I really love Iresine herbstii (chicken gizzards, or beefsteak plant) for it's bright red coloration.

I also really love the tender Alternanthera 'Grenadine', and it's coloration is similar to Iresine herbstii, but it died on me; so I'm in the market for another one. I'm also interested in trying Alternanthera 'Brazilian Red Hots', but I hope it would go with a cool color scheme. There could be an orange undertone in it, and then I wouldn't be happy.

Alternanthera 'Gail's Choice' and 'Purple Knight' are both too deeply colored for me. They look like a black hole in the garden.

I like Amethyst Myst heuchera in the Spring, but it greens up on me in a major way in the Summer. I'm going to move it more into the shade, and I'm hoping to find an equally reddish (instead of deep purple) heuchera for the sun (until 2pm) to take it's place. I've looked at Plum Pudding, Frosted Violet, and Sparkling Burgundy, but they all strike me as deep purple.

I tried Persian Shield, but it takes so long to look good after losing all it's leaves in the winter, that I'm not as enamored with it as I used to be. I saw another tender plant with the same metallic purple coloring as Persian Shield, but the leaves are more shaped like a maple. I sure wish I could find out what that plant is.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 7:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I'm surprised no one mentioned purple loropetalums. I love them in all their sizes, and it seems that the newer ones stay purple longer into the summer. They are a great comfort since the ninebarks and elders don't seem to like my hot climate.

I also love Crinum, Sangria. There are also purple eucomises, which I haven't gotten to yet, but definitely will. Red Sensation Cordyline is beautiful and is hardy for me here in zone 7B, as are all that I mentioned so far.

If you don't mind that they are annuals, there are some truly stunning purple leaved peppers. Black Pearl is the closest to Black in any plant I have seen and it holds its color all summer. I have two others that I bought nameless that not only have black foliage, but their peppers are Fire Engine red. Spectacular contrast. Then of course there are the black leaved dahlias. Bishop of Llandaff is my favorite. The beauty of these plants is their size. It seems that so many dark leaved plants are great big shrubs. I am using the peppers this year as edgers and I am really liking them.

Just to continue this thread, why don't your share some of your favorite combinations using these dark leaved beauties? I'm sure we all know that they are stunning with chartreusey greens, but what else do you like them with?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 8:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Ajuga chocolate chip, ajuga black scallup, and Salvia purple volcano or knockout.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 11:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Great topic!

I had always loved lime foliage with dark foliage, but recently I used silver foliage with dark purple in my container combos and I love the look!

Japanese Painted fern with purple heuchera is a favorite combo that I've used in a planter and since those are perennials, I haven't had to add much each year since the impatiens keep coming back.

Dusty miller or similar silver foliage is stunning with Persian shield, purple fountain grass and purple blooms such as petunia.

Using black foliage and silver would be interesting -- almost like a black & white garden.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 8:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kpj1(N. England Z7)

For 2750 stunning dark plants, over 1400 silver plants and not mentioned here, but another stunning contrast of 1400 gold plants see
This is the work that brought these stunning colours into your gardens.

Here is a link that might be useful: black plants

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 3:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lastmanager(Northern KY 6)

I have a black and yellow bed that incorporates a lot of these plants. A few more that I have had success with are:
Ajuga ÂMetallica CrispaÂ
Cimicifuga ÂJames ComptonÂ
Sedum ÂLynda WindsorÂ

and a couple of rampant reseeders that I don't mind are
Euphorbia dulcis ÂChameleonÂ
Salvia lyrata ÂBurgandy BlissÂ
Also Hieracium maculatum - Spotted hawkweed, which technically has green leaves with lots of dark spots.

A plant I just love and can never keep alive for many years is Geranium 'Midnight Reiter'. I really like the blue flowers against the black foliage.

As far as combinations, the Ajuga 'Metallica Crispa' looks wonderful intertwined with Sedum reflexum 'Angelina'.

And I have a Cotinus ÂGolden Spirit that I am training up a Clematis recta 'Purpurea' into that I am looking forward to seeing the combo of next spring.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 8:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
paul_(z5 MI)

Though I've never grown it, how about the black elephant ears (Caladiums)?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 10:44PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
2015 Garden Resolutions
Each year for the past few I say that I am going to...
Elk in Dogs for mrtulin
The link is in here scroll down and have fun. Some...
Patty W. zone 5a Illinois
Welcome spring...
I usually spend most of my time on the Roses Forum...
Trillium 2015
This thread is for anyone who wants to post pics of...
Will the Epimediums make it?
The epimediums ( I have about 20 different varieties)...
Sponsored Products
New Tribal Geometric Border Area Rug Runner Balouch Hand Knotted Wool Free
BH Sun Inc
Steve Silver Gabriel Round Marble Top Cocktail Table w/ Black Base
Beyond Stores
Uttermost Porano Floor Lamp
Lamps Plus
Lite Source Hudson Torchiere Table Lamp - C61308
$191.00 | Hayneedle
Tribeca Wood and Mirrored Chrome Side Table
Zuri Furniture
Liz Black Acrylic Mohair Throw
RION Furniture - Plier Cocktail Table in Dark Walnut - GTAB170DW
Great Furniture Deal
Area Rug: Sunbury Dark Brown 8' Round
Home Depot
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™