Black is the new…black?

Dark foliage and flowers have been popular for quite a while.  Heck, an entire book (Paul Bonine, Timber Press) features the darkest of the dark.

Of course, "black" is a bit subjective.  Dark purple, dark brown, dark green.  But dark is hot; plant breeders and marketers know it. Here’s a few things that have come out within the past couple of years…

Ball Horticulture’s new patented petunia ‘Black Velvet’ is all over the place, along with its cousins, Phantom and Pinstripe.

Bench card from Ball for use in garden centers.  Odd choice of editorial photo for the "little black dress."  Petunia’s cute enough, though.

Centaurea montana ‘Black Sprite’ is a new perennial from Sunny Border Nursery (marketed by Skagit Gardens). You may be familiar with the blue version (Knapweed, Mountain Bluets). I am, because it reseeds all over my stinkin’ garden.  Maybe this one is better behaved.

I snapped this at the OFA Floriculture trade show in July.  Love the black outline on the bud "scales."

A new ornamental eggplant certainly falls under the "black" category.  This super-cute guy was in the "new plants" display at OFA also, but some dork had snatched the tag from the display. Let me know if you recognize it…

Meeestery eggplant has nice flowers and foliage, too. Until the flea beetles come.

There are so many wonderful ornamental peppers out there – all easy to grow from seed.  Most are pretty hot (pop a ‘Black Pearl’ some time for a thrill). From the U.K. breeding company Vegetalis comes the F1 hybrid pepper ‘Chenzo’.

 Like ‘Black Pearl’, the fruit change from black to deep red as they ripen. It’s also hot as blue blazes, with a Scoville rating of 45,000 shu.

9 thoughts on “Black is the new…black?”

  1. Oooh, I love the black centaurea.

    The blue kind seeds all over my garden too. I’d assumed that it actually liked my alkaline soil rather than just being a general pest. Guess I’m not as special as I thought.

  2. @ plantingoaks: Yep, it got a ton of attention at the show. My photo doesn’t do it justice. And of course you’re special! Now I feel special too.

  3. I think the eggplant is “Bambino” – we trialed them for a vegetable container trial in 2010 I think. Not only ornamental, but tasty too, although I think “Fairy Tale” had the best scores.

  4. Black tulips “Queen of the Night” are amazing too. They look so elegant in a vase against my white walls. I planted about 100 of bulbs in the garden this fall.

  5. Am I the only person who doesn’t like “black” flow
    ers? They make me think I should put a little black armband on a plant. Black is just too – duh – dark. Not crazy about black foliage either. Though I admit I do like the ornamental eggplant.

  6. … not to forget Hollyhock cultvar ‘Nigra’ and the two Sambucus nigra cultivars ‘Black Beauty’ and ‘Black Lace’ (IMO an outstanding colour combination with the soft pink blooms).

  7. I think the editorial photo by the black petunia indicates that the plant might have an s.t.d. and think that its luxury vehicle is more important than pedestrians’ rights of way. Sorry for the marketers if they weren’t going for that response. Black plants are very cool (I have a DARK blue hellebore in my own garden), but brown plants deserve a larger following, as they bridge other colors to green so readily.

  8. Thanks for the comments – Johannes, my hollyhock Nigra has been going strong for four years – I love it. Have not had great success with hardiness of the Sambucus cv’s but even as an “annual” they are fab. “Little black armbands” – heh! Interesting interpretation there, Shawn.

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