Real Life Sci-Fi Plants That Look Like They’re From A Movie

Grow some amazing sci-fi plants that look like they’re from another planet for some alien interest in the garden.

A Rafflesia keithii flower on the forest floor
(Image credit: Nora Carol Photography / Getty Images)

Sci-fi plants might include truly imaginative plants created by the minds of fiction writers. They can also include plants that are all too real. Alien-looking flowers, plants that consume insects, and plants that look like they grow on another planet are great choices for a science fiction themed garden.

Growing a Sci-Fi Garden

Theme gardens are fun to create and enjoy. A theme garden might be focused on a certain color, a historic period, or even something macabre like poisonous plants. Here’s a unique idea to try: a garden full of otherworldly plants that look like only a science fiction writer could have thought them up.

8 Out of This World Sci-Fi Plants

Whether you’re a sci-fi fanatic or just like the idea of unusual plants, this is a fun theme to embrace for an outdoor garden or houseplants. Get creative and do some research for the most alien-looking plants and flowers you can find. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Venus Fly Trap

What could be more sci-fi than a plant that eats animals? Venus fly trap (Dioneaea muscipula) is a carnivorous plant. It can photosynthesize like any other plant to create energy, but it also evolved to trap, digest, and get energy from animals, typically insects. It needs specific conditions outdoors, but you can grow a Venus fly trap indoors anywhere. It is native to boggy wetlands of North and South Carolina, so it needs lots of moisture.

2. Cobra Lily

Another carnivorous plant that would suit a sci-fi garden is the cobra lily (Darlingtonia californica). Also known as a pitcher plant, it is shaped like a deep tube that traps insects. Unlike other pitcher plants, cobra lily has a wide, bulbous top and wing-shaped leaves. These might make it look like a cobra to some observers, but it’s also pretty alien-like.

3. Brain Cactus

Mammilaria elongate is also known as brain cactus for a good reason. The twisty, tightly-packed stems of this desert plant make it look like an actual brain. Grow brain cactus indoors or outside if you live in a hot, dry climate.

4. Dragon Lily

Also known as voodoo lily or vampire lily, Dracunculus vulgaris is a tuber perennial native to the eastern Mediterranean. It has a large, unusual spathe, creating alien-looking flowers. The spathe is leathery and a deep reddish-purple color that is nearly black. The dragon lily also produces a terrible smell that attracts flies for pollination.

5. Doll’s Eyes

To add creepiness to your sci fi garden, try growing Actaea Pachypoda, also known as doll’s eyes or white baneberry. The name doll’s eyes describes the berries, which are white with a black dot, resemble fake eyes used to make dolls. White baneberry is a perennial, herbaceous plant native to eastern North America. Take care with this plant, as all parts are toxic.

6. Japanese Blood Grass

This spooky ornamental grass has spiky green leaves tipped with dark red. Imperata cylindrica is native to Asia and is also known as cogon grass. Japanese blood grass adds an interesting textural and color contrast to other plants. Keep this ornamental grass well contained in beds to avoid it becoming naturalized or invasive.

7. Rough Horsetail

Another unusual ornamental grass that looks like it belongs on another planet is Equisetum hyemale, also known as scouring rush and rough horsetail. The thick, reed-like stalks grow rigidly upright and have rings of black and white. They can grow up to five feet (1.5 m) tall and create dense stands.

8. Black Bat Flower

The flower and bracts of Tacca chantrieri definitely look like a creature from another planet than a bat. It has deep purple, almost black, bracts that resemble wings with unusual seed pods that look a little like a face. The black bat flower also has long, sprouting bracteoles that look like extended whiskers. It’s a tropical plant that can be difficult to grow in some areas but is well worth the effort.

These are just a few plants that look like they came right out of a sci-fi movie. It’s hard to believe these evolved right here on Earth. Try these and other examples of our strangest plants for a spooky, alien sci-fi garden.

Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.