Updated/Fact-Chacked on June 11, 2022 by John
I recently created an orange flower section in a new border and have been looking to compliment them with some black flowering plants. These are much harder to find than orange plants, with very few dark flowering plants in nature. Over the last 10 years, ‘almost black’ flowers have been developed in a number of outdoor varieties, giving gardeners more options in their planting schemes.
Are there really black flowering plants?
Unfortunately no, it is not possible to have pure black flowers but you can get varieties which are very deep purple and nearly black. These flowers are bred to contain high anthocyanin pigment, which absorbs all the sunlight’s wavelengths except red and blue, which get reflected back to our eyes. These flowers end up with very deep purple and maroon colours which are almost black.
Here’s my shortlist and some plants I researched for planting, they consist of annuals and a few perennials. I have ordered them by flowering months to help you plan for seasonality.
Black flowering plants for spring
- 1 Black Tulip (Tulipa ‘Queen Of Night’)
- 2 Black Hyacinth ‘Dark Dimension’
- 3 Dusky Cranesbill (Geranium Phaeum)
- 4 Petunia Back Velvet (‘Balpevac’PBR)
- 5 Black Bearded Iris (Iris germanica)
- 6 Hollyhock (Alcea ‘Black Knight)
- 7 Black Roses
- 8 Black Viola ‘Bowles Black’
- 9 Black Dahlia
- 10 Lily ‘Black Jewel’
- 11 Hellebores Niger
Black Tulip (Tulipa ‘Queen Of Night’)
This tulip is the darkest one you can buy with its almost black, deep maroon colour. Plant queen of night bulbs around November when the first frost has arrived to protect the bulbs from tulip fire; bulbs can be planted in borders or containers for amazing spring flowers.
Black Hyacinth ‘Dark Dimension’
These hyacinths are very unusual and you are unlikely to find them in your local garden centre. The dark hyacinth is grown like other varieties, by planting bulbs in autumn for spring flowering. These bulbs will be available on farmergracy.co.uk at the end of the summer. I personally don’t like hyacinths, they look so ugly once they stop flowering – but still tempted to buy this black variety.
Other varieties of black hyacinth include ‘Midnight Mystique’, which was the first black hyacinth, created by Hans Kapiteyn after 15 years of development.
Black flowering plants for early summer
Dusky Cranesbill (Geranium Phaeum)
Flowers: April to July
These perennial geraniums flower from spring to early summer and are a great addition to any border. Many can grow to 90cm and do well in partial, dappled or full shade. These early flowering geraniums also provide food for early bees and pollinators.
Petunia Back Velvet (‘Balpevac’PBR)
Flowers: May to October
This annual has given me nearly black flowers with a velvet texture for months, strategically positioned in my orange section for contrast. They are considered the ‘blackest’ flowers you can buy. Petunias are cheap to buy and easy to grow and can be added to any border, container or hanging basket. Petunia grows best in rich soil, in a full sun position with plenty of watering.
Flowering can be boosted with regular deadheading and liquid fertilizer with high potash, like tomato fertilizer.
Other black petunia varieties include: ‘Sweetunia black satin’, ‘Crazytunia Black Mamba’, ‘Patia Back to Black’, ‘Black night’, ‘Hybrida Ray Black’
Black Bearded Iris (Iris germanica)
Flowers: May – June
Irises belong to a large genus of different plants including pond plants, spring-flowering types (Iris reticulata) and the hardy bearded variety. The black iris belongs to the latter group of bearded iris (Iris germanica) which produce tall sturdy stems.
Black flowering plants for summer
Hollyhock (Alcea ‘Black Knight)
Flowers: June to September
This hollyhock produces amazingly dark flowers, hence the ‘black knight’ name, though the flowers are a very deep purple. The plant will flower from June to September on tall spikes that can reach 2m in height. This black hollyhock likes full or partial shade and is loved by bees and other pollinators.
The Alcea ‘Black Knight can reach up to 2M in height, so sits well at the back of a border. I have recently planted one behind my geum ‘totally tangerine’, I’m hoping the orange and black will work well.
Flowers: June – September
The Rose Black Baccara is a hybrid tea rose, bred to produce cutting flowers. The plant has deep maroon petals throughout the summer, which give off an amazing scent – one of the main reasons they are used in vase displays. These roses are easy to grow in a sunny location, ideally in humus-rich soil and will reach a height of 90cm at maturity.
Black Viola ‘Bowles Black’
Flowers: June – October
Viola are great for throwing into border gaps and hanging baskets to add contrasting colours, they also flower for months on end. Some viola varieties will flower over the winter months, but the Viola ‘Bowles Black’ will flower march through to the end of September. This viola will also flower in any position in your garden, being happy in full sun or partial shade.
You may also find other black viola varieties such as ‘back to black’ and ‘black magic’ (which only have a yellow centre).
Flowers: June – October
We are massive dahlia fans here and have written an article dedicated to growing black dahlia. There are a few varieties of black dahlia (or deep maroon), but Dahlia ‘Black Narcissus’ is the darkest with its cactus flower head.
Black varieties include dahlia ‘chat noir’.
Lily ‘Black Jewel’
This lily is one of the darkest you will find in the UK and pretty tricky to come by. The black jewel lily flowers during the height of summer and can grow to 75cm, perfect for adding drama to the middle of a border. The plant is generally sold as summer bulbs but you may find them in 2-litre pots.
Black Flowering Plants for Winter
Flowers: January to April
Hellebores are quite unique as they flower in the winter months and give you evergreen foliage. Hellebores are a must-have for bee lovers, they provide lots of nectar for early bumblebees that are in need of energy. Hellebores like rich soil and partial shade and sit well under shrubs with prime roses.
Other black hellebores varieties include: ‘double black’, ‘black swan’, ‘Dark and handsome’, Helleborus x hybridus Harvington black, ‘garden black’
Best ways to use black flowers
Black flowers will go with any other colour which makes them so fantastic when designing a border colour scheme.
Here are a couple of examples of them being used exquisitely.
Black flowering plants FAQ
What is the blackest flower?
The blackest flower is the petunia black velvet which is a very deep purple. This flower was developed by Jianping Ren after years of research at Ball Colegrave.
What is the most beautiful black flower?
The most beautiful black flower in our opinion is the black lily.
Is black Dahlia a flower?
Yes, there are several varieties of black dahlia, but they are actually dark maroon and not dark at all compared to some other black flowers.
Can you grow black flowers?
You cannot grow true black flowers, but you can grow very dark purple flowers which are almost black.
Why are there no black flowers?
There are no truly black flowers as it is not possible in nature.
Are there black petunias?
Yes, you can buy black velvet petunia easily now from most good plant retailers.
Are black flowers rare?
Almost black flowers used to be rare, but over the last 10 years very dark varieties of petunia, hyacinth, viola and dahlia have been developed.
Is there a black rose?
Yes, the black baccarat rose is very dark.
John Green is a 46-year-old graphic designer living in Durham. John is RHS level 3 certified and owns an allotment in Durham.