Halloween Gardens: Spooky Plant Selections


Last updated 10/25/2022 at 4:33pm

This pumpkin planter is inexpensive and made of plastic providing a festive plant display, but an organic option is to use real pumpkin, which can be easily carved, then simply add plants with unusual characteristics (Image courtesy Amazon.com).

It's been another fantastic week of cooler temperatures with perfect weather! We've experienced a few chilly mornings, but temperatures have warmed nicely by midday, making garden work outside extremely gratifying. Now, if we could get some much-needed rainfall!

While there are numerous plants which gardeners associate with Halloween and various sorts of pumpkins and gourds have been staples for Halloween decorations for years. The orange pumpkin is hands down, the symbol most associated with Halloween in the United States, it's an American icon! However, the holiday is All Hallows Eve, a time when ghosts could emerge from their realms and frightening occurrences happen during the night. This opens many more possibilities for plant selection to use for a Halloween Garden. When you are selecting Halloween inspired plants, choose plants which have interesting or unusual characteristics. Plants which only bloom during the night, have countless thorns, are predatory & carnivorous, or shaded deep hues of purple or black, cast an eerie presence and hold our attention.

Halloween will be here soon, what a great time to involve children in selecting, planting, and growing scary plants. Let them create a scary and spooky mood by designing a "petrifying" planter for an entryway, crafting a "frightening" front porch corner, or planting a "howling" Halloween Garden of eerie potted plants. The following groups of plants have note-worthy characteristics and would make deviously terrifying additions to a Halloween Garden. To further enhance your Halloween Garden, combine Halloween décor into the planting aesthetic by adding items, such as eyeball plant markers, center plants around a witch's hat, enlist zombie body parts into your motif, or embed ghosts & spiders for the scariest effects!

Night Blooming Plants

Moonflowers (ipomoea alba) - are vining plants with large white or pink trumpet-shaped blossoms, which open at sunset and close by noon the following day.

Flowering tobacco (Nicotinia alata)- fills the night air with a jasmine-like scent.

Chocolate Daisy (Beranderia lyrate)- is a flowering yellow plant that produces a sweet chocolate-like scent in the morning after blooming through the night.

Thorny Plants

Flying Dragon (Poncirus trifoliata)- aka hardy orange, produces small, bitter oranges. It has unusual, twisted branches and sharp thorns.

Bed of Nails (Solanum quitoense)- the fuzzy leaves are covered with inch long spines and are a member of the nightshade family. This certainly sends a chill down my spine!

Devil's Walking Stick (Aralia spinosa)- it has a spooky name and is a large deciduous shrub armed with sharp spiky stems, leaf stalks, and branches. Topped with a crown of giant compound leaves.

Carnivorous Plants

Venus Flytrap- meat eating plants from the bogs of the Carolinas, digest insects which wander into their "traps".

Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia flavia)- insects are attracted to the plants alluring color, crawl about the flowers rim, and some fall into the pitcher which contains a sticky enzyme turning insects into 'bug juice", which feeds the plant.

Unusually Shaped & Deeply Hued Plants

Devils Trumpet (Datura)- a member of the nightshade family. Produces white to purple tinged flowers and spiny round seed pods.

Cockscomb (Celosia cristata)- the waviness of the cockscomb flowers is unique, closely resembling brains.

Rex Begonia (Begonia rex-cultorum)- the swirl patterns are hypnotic and fascinating. They are also called fancy-leaf Begonia, with numerous colorations of this plant from green, red, silver, and dark purple.

Raven ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Raven')- waxy, shiny leaves, simply an elegant plant which would make a welcome addition to a Halloween Garden.

Elephant Ear (Colocasia 'Black Magic')- the leaves are a velvety purple black. Picture this situated at your homes entrance with a skull for Halloween decor, and you've got yourself an elegantly spooky arrangement.

Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangulais)- it resembles a purple shamrock but with a dark, moody hue with shapes reminiscent of bats! They are a group of small plants grown from bulbs.

Here's a brief bit of history about pumpkin carving into jack-o-lanterns, which is a relatively recent trend in the US and abroad. Before pumpkins became popular, German children used to carve turnips and large Mangold. Mangold is referred to as mangold-wurzel (mangelwurzel) or simply mangold in Germany, from where it originates. In German, 'Mangold' means "beet" and 'wurzel' means "root," which is what mangold vegetables are.

So, now my fellow gardeners, let's go out and grow ourselves a greener, more sustainable world, one "spooky" plant, at a time! Happy Halloween everyone, be safe!

If you have specific gardening questions or would like more information, contact the Orange County Master Gardeners Helpline: (409) 882-7010 or visit our website: https://txmg.org/orange, Facebook: Orange County Texas Master Gardeners Association or Email: [email protected].


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