Designing With Dark Plants – Using Dark Colors In The Garden

By: Mary Ellen Ellis
Image by SvetlanaKlaise

Garden design is all about mixing colors, textures, and plant types to create a harmonious whole. There are a lot of different ways to do this. While most gardens are bright, light, and colorful, there is a place for both dark plants and dark backdrops too. Find out how to use dark colors to their best effect in your garden before making this bold statement.

Why Use Darker Colors in the Garden?

Dark colors definitely have their place in the garden. They can be used to highlight plants or other garden features that are lighter in color, for instance. Darker tones provide contrast and visual interest. They add drama to an outdoor space.

Gardening with Dark Colors

Depending on how and where you use them, darker colors in the garden can be striking and attractive. But using dark colors can be tricky and may not have the effect you were hoping to achieve. Here are some tips for success:

  • Avoid putting darker plants in shady spots. They’ll blend in and be difficult to see. Choose full sun locations.
  • Use larger dark plants, like shrubs, as a backdrop for lighter, brighter plants.
  • Choose plants with purple foliage for dark contrast in a mixed bed.
  • Use dark plants to make white flowers pop, especially in the light of the mood when the dark plants will nearly disappear.
  • Don’t limit dark colors to plants. Use dark walls, fences, pergolas, and even exterior paint colors to make your garden the bright focal point.

Dark Plants for the Garden

Here are some choices for plants to get you started on a dark-themed garden. These plants have dark purple to black flowers:

  • Tulip – ‘Queen of Night’
  • Viola  -‘Molly Sanderson’
  • Rose – ‘Black Baccara’
  • Dahlia – ‘Arabian Night’

If you want to incorporate some dark foliage, try:

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