Black tulips
(Image credit: santi-jk / Getty Images)

I have always had a fascination with black flowers and foliage. I suppose this is because the hue is not something normally observed in nature. Over the years I have peppered my landscape with any black varieties I could find. I have had black pansies, iris, calla lily, and I once even grew a black bat flower indoors. Bulbs are also a favorite of mine, and when I found a black tulip bulb, of course I had to have it.

Are There Any Black Flowers?

Black flowers aren’t truly black in most cases. If you look at them in good light you can see they are usually a deep purple that appears to be black. Selective breeding has almost achieved what Mother Nature could not, black flowers. In the case of the black calla lily, it is quite convincing in its darkness. Black tulips are more purple except in low light, but they are still spectacular and unusual.

I once made a black and white garden bed. It was a funky bit of garden design that appealed to me at the time. The white plants were the usual suspects. Tulips, snowdrops, peony, roses, freesia, hydrangea, etc. I had almost white foliage plants like Lamb’s ears, too. The black plants were more challenging to find. Black mondo grass, sedum, and Colocasia provided dark foliage. A black Hellebore provided black foliage and black flowers. Next came more black flowers. This was a bit tricky since they all had to be hybrids, so I went to a fancy nursery nearby for some retail therapy.

Varieties of Black Plants

What I found was actually astonishing. There were the aforementioned calla lilies but many more. I got hollyhock, iris, geranium, pansies, Dahlia, and petunias. But my real prize was black tulip bulbs. There are a few varieties of black tulip. I cannot remember which variety I acquired but once planted they popped up in spring and I was pleasantly surprised. The flower really did appear to be so dark as to be described as black. I loved these tulips. Over time their number increased and by the time I sold that house I had a large crop of the deeply hued blooms.

Moving Bulbs

I wish I’d had the foresight to dig up some of the plants and bring them along with me. The only ones I have currently are the black tulips. Because there were so many, I had dug a bunch of bulbs up, intending to transplant them elsewhere in the garden. They went unplanted for 2 years and I had little hope they would be good when I bought this home.

I don’t have a black and white garden anymore. What I do have is a lack of opportunities to purchase plants here in this very rural setting. So when I unpacked the gardening stuff and found the tulip bulbs, I thought, why not? I planted them out front, one of the first things I put into the ground at the new home. I doubted they would come, but waited patiently for a year.

The weather here is much harsher than where I originally grew these black flowers. We freeze very hard and there is hardly any spring weather. Rather we go from frozen to desert conditions. But to my surprise, the tulips bloomed. They have been in the ground nearly 3 years and I have seen the flowers twice now. With a little bit of luck, I will see them again this spring.

Bonnie Grant