By: Nikki Tilley, Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden
Why not take advantage of all the scary looking plants and creepy plants by creating a garden themed around the exciting Halloween holiday. If it’s too late now in your region, there’s always next year, so now is the time for planning. Read on to get tips on creating a spook-tacular garden of scary plants.
Plants, like people, have always been split into groups of good and bad, useful or harmful – therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that there are many creepy plants out there. So what makes a plant scary? It could be nothing more than its name, such as:
Sometimes, in addition to the name, it’s the mere color of a plant that makes it creepy – black being the most common here.
Color isn’t the only factor in plants being considered dark or scary. Some of them are simply unusual with respects to growth or behavior. Still others may be scary because of their toxicity or historical background (usually based solely on superstition). Some of these plants include:
Still others are known for their horrible and rotting smells:
And, of course, there’s frightful carnivorous plants, which get hungry for more than just ordinary fertilizer. Among these include:
The use of creepy, scary-looking plants in your garden will depend on personal preference as much as the effect you are looking to achieve. For example, with Halloween in mind, your focus may be centered on the colors orange and black. You don’t have to rely merely on these colors, however. Deep maroon can also help set off the Halloween garden, as they evoke thoughts of evil doers.
If color alone is not your thing, then maybe creating a spooky, plant eating garden might be. Create a bog with carnivorous plants or a smelly plant garden. Then again, your creepy plant garden may be nothing more than herbs or flowers with superstitious histories. Regardless, keep in mind that if you have kids or pets, you should not plant anything in your garden that may be toxic. Research your creepy plants carefully beforehand.
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Oct 24, 2015 02:07am GMT+0800
The world is full of weird, wild, and wonderful things that we can’t even begin to imagine. With plants alone, nature has already presented us with specimens that are both baffling and awesome. There are also those that would definitely freak us out or even send us running for cover — such as these 13 plants.
Some of these plants are simply scary because of how they look. However, there are also those that have truly frightening qualities.
The Octopus Stinkhorn is a fungus which grows near wood debris. It looks like bloody mutant octopus. It usually only has four to eight “tentacles” — although some may have more. Its “tentacles” have a pinkish-red interior with a sticky, dark-colored substance called gleba, which contains spores. Although it’s now found in other parts of the world, its origins are traced to Australia. It also goes by the nickname, “Devil’s Fingers.” By the way, it smells like rotting flesh.
The Rafflesia is leafless and rootless parasitic flower that boasts of the largest blooms. It feeds off other plants. It usually grows to a diameter of three feet and could weigh as much as 24 pounds. It’s usually found in forests in southeast Asia. It looks like an alien life form just waiting to swallow up small animals. Its stinky smell attracts carrion flies.
The Porcupine Tomato looks like it could hurt people…and it could. Native to Madagascar and the islands of the western Indian Ocean, it’s a poisonous plant that’s adorned with thorns.
The Doll’s Eyes clearly refer to the berries of this plant, which is indigenous to North America. The berries and all the other parts of the plant are poisonous to humans. They have been known to cause gastrointestinal inflammation or, worse, cardiac arrest.
The Bleeding Tooth Fungus lives up to its name, as it looks like a bunch of bloody teeth. The “teeth” are actually just there to produce the red spores, which give the fungus its interesting look. It’s common in the forests of North America and Europe. It’s not poisonous but it’s known to be extremely bitter.
The Black Bat Flower lives up to its name. It can grow up to a foot in diameter and its “whiskers” can grow up to 28 inches. They’re common in Asia. They also look like they can come alive and attack people.
The Corpse Flower is a fearsome-looking plant that is endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It can grow to 10 to 15 feet. Its flower is actually a stalk with multiple male and female flowers. It rarely blooms (an average once in seven years) — but when it does it emits a smell akin to a (What else?) dead body.
The Devil’s Claw is native to Africa. Amazingly enough, it’s considered a medicinal plant that has anti-inflammatory properties. Then again, it has adverse side effects that include diarrhea. The plant gets its name from the “hooks” covering its fruits.
The Cedar Apple Rust Fungus targets apples, they latch on to them and basically disfigure them. One look at the fungus already give you a clue of what sort of damage it can do to a fruit. It’s common in the US.
The Buddha’s Hand is actually the fruit of a citron plant. It’s usually used as a religious offering in Buddhist temples. To this we say: Really? Buddha’s hand looked like an alien’s?
The Venus Flytrap looks like it’s made up of several tiny aliens with teeth. This carnivorous plant is indigenous to the U.S. — specifically the swamp lands of North and South Carolina. As Botany.org explained: “The leaves of Venus Flytrap open wide and on them are short, stiff hairs called trigger or sensitive hairs. When anything touches these hairs enough to bend them, the two lobes of the leaves snap shut trapping whatever is inside. The trap will shut in less than a second.” The carnivorous plant prefers to consume live insects. If you place a dead insect inside any of its “mouths,” then it won’t shut unless you move around the dead insect to mimic a live one.
The roots of the Chinese Fleeceflower look like tiny, oddly-shaped humans. They are used in herbal medicine. They remind us of the Mandrake in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
The Ghost Plant looks like a normal plant whose color got drained after a ghost touched it. It’s a parasitic plant that can be found in parts of Russia, as well as North and South America.
Needles, poisons and creepy shapes make some plants scary
My earliest memories of plants are a mixture of mostly delight and a modicum of dread. Fragrant flowers, tasty vegetables and juicy windfall apples were early favorites and remain so.
My first exposure to cactus also left a lasting impression — stickers in a tiny, curious fingertip. I instantly learned to exercise considerable caution when approaching plants armed with prickles, thorns and bristles.
As language skills increased a vocabulary of dangerous flora was introduced. Poison ivy and poison oak are obviously plants to give an even wider berth than that cute, little potted cactus. Others have scary sounding names: deadnettle, Virginia creeper and Miss Wilmott’s ghost, to cite a few.
Sometimes perfectly innocent plants assume sinister attributes. Even at noon a creepy twilight fills ancient cypress swamps. The upthrusting “knees” conjure thoughts of deformed hands of zombies. Their gnarled fingers reaching up to seize an unsuspecting ankle and pull the victim into the inky water like an alligator grabbing prey.
Winsome sugar maples and apple trees may also menace without intending to. Skeletal shadows of branches silently clawing on a bedroom wall or softly tapping on the window in a storm are standard props in Grade-B Hollywood horror movies. The branches of a big apple and old maples occasionally haunted my childhood bedroom, too.
Live oaks strung with long strands of the tattered lace of Spanish moss and glossy green Southern magnolia are two favorite trees, but even these have their dark side (literally). An old cemetery in Fernandina Beach, FL has stones and monuments that wear a faint patina of orangish lichen, as I recall. Unforgettable is the disquieting effect this has in the malevolent shade of a giant live oak and equally massive Southern magnolia. The hairs on the back of my neck almost rose, despite the sunny-bright spring day awaiting beyond the gloom.
And consider corn. For those who find it difficult to navigate up and down rows in an autumn maze, the sight of towering corn plants becomes a source of frustration. Should the way out remain elusive, those stalks may inspire anger. For me, the corn maze, indeed corn fields in general, are places I shun. After seeing the movie Signs, I stay well away from corn fields lest the slithery fingers of greenish aliens snatch and drag me off to their silvery saucer.
Turn your space into a living, breathing, breathtaking nightmare!
When you're on the market for a Pinterest-worthy houseplant, you probably have a fairly placid picture in your head: inoffensive succulents, photogenic ivy, maybe some bamboo. What you're probably not thinking of? Installing a bona fide horror show in the comfort of your own home.
Well, if that's the case, you should reconsider. Some of the world's most terrifying plants are also some of the world's most beautiful—in a breathtaking, totally unique way. For a one-of-a-kind space—and an injection of eerie ambiance—put some of these ghastly finds in the corners of your home.
Eerily resembling the contours of a brain, the mammillaria elongata cristata—colloquially referred to as the Brain Cactus—is normally found in the rocky deserts in Central Mexico. That doesn't mean you can't bring this strange plant into your own home. In fact, the Brain Cactus is an incredibly popular houseplant, due to the fact that upkeep is fairly easy, and requires only minimal water and constant sunlight. Finally, a Halloween plant that works around the year.
The common nicknames for the mimosa pudica—Shameplant, Humble Plant, Sensitive Plant—can clue you in to this plant's mysterious tricks. Upon being touched, the plant will shrivel up and appear to look dead. Then, only minutes later, the plant will be back to normal, as though nothing ever happened. So, if you wish to have this plant thrive inside of your own home, simply place it inside of loosely packed soil and in a corner of your home that sees the most sunlight and warmth—but don't even think about touching it.
This dark and mysterious plant is said to resemble a bat in flight. (For our part, we think it also resembles the lanky, pensive extraterrestrials from Arrival.) If you're looking to add Black Bat Flowers to your space, be sure to give them plenty of shade and room to grow, as it's weak to sun and can get quite large.
As scary as its namesake, Medusa's Head more closely resembles a pit of snakes than an actual succulent. This South African plant, if left alone, will grow to be two feet in length—two feet of terrifying brambles. Similar to other succulents, this one requires only a bit of water and plenty of sunlight.
The name may indicate it likes to munch on flies, but the Venus Flytrap actually prefers spiders, beetles, ants, and grasshoppers, which it chomps down on with teeth-like cilia and highly sensitive traps that can snap shut in a tenth of a second. To ensure that your Venus Flytrap remains healthy, give it distilled water or rainwater (never tap water), plenty of direct sunlight, and, if it appears unhealthy, some insects.
The Monkey Cups plant is technically cousins—scientifically speaking—with the Venus Flytrap, but it's far more fear-inducing, at least to prey. By using a sweet syrup, the planet is able to attract—and capture—victims as large as rats, birds, and even small lizards. (Monkeys are also known to drink from the cups, hence the name, though no primate is small enough to get captured.) To keep your Monkey Cup thriving, feed it only distilled water or rainwater and keep it in a warm and sunlit environment.
To make your garden pest-proof, simply line it with Oleander, which looks harmless, but is known for toxic leaves, flowers, and branches that have the power to seriously harm or kill those who ingest its fragrant blooms. Needless to say, homeowners with small children and pets shouldn't purchase plant. But if you still want to get one, know that, to keep it alive, Oleander needs an environment with plenty of sunlight that won't dip into freezing temperatures.
Originally hailing from the Pacific Northwest, a Cobra Plant needs only two things to thrive: cold, purified water and a cool environment. Take advantage of this plant's affinity for "eating" small insects by placing it in an area of your home that might have frequent bug activity. It'll be good for the plant—and for your psyche.
It's essential for tequila, but the Agave plant is no slouch. Lined with sharp, spiked edges and outfitted with acidic sap, they often inflict harm on any animal looking to draw nutrients from its blooms. To take care of your Agave plants, you'll only need to water it once a week in the summer and once a month in the winter it's a relatively forgiving plant.
Don't let the brightly colored flowers trick you: a Crown of Thorns plant is nothing to let your guard down around. If ingested, its sap can be toxic, and it can cause a rash when exposed to skin. Oh, and the plant is covered in (no surprise here) thorns. A Crown of Thorns will only need water about two times a month, and sap drainage can actually be controlled by dipping the ends of the plant into warm water for a few minutes and allowing it to dry off for at least two days so it can form hard, calloused ends.
Known as the "vampire of the garden," the Ghost Plant gathers its food by sucking the nutrients from other surrounding plants. While it gets its name from a ghost-like appearance, the plant's behavior is also akin to phantoms of lore, as it can only thrive in dark corners. To ensure that a Ghost Plant will survive, plant it underneath a damp birch tree.
Resembling what could be described as group of eyeballs attached to a solidified brachial artery, a Doll's Eyes plant could be the perfect addition to a Halloween party. Feel free to get one at any time of the year, as taking care of a Doll's Eyes plant is no tall order—so long as it dwells in rich, damp soil. Just don't ever ingest it! Doing so can induce cardiac arrest.
Each July, during Ullambana—the Japanese Ghost Festival, a Buddhist celebration meant to honor the dearly departed—people offer seeds of the physalis alkekengi, or lantern plant, to help guide the souls of the dead. This ghastly affiliation is fitting: Once the vivid orange lantern plant matures, it turns into a ghostly white skeletal shell. To thrive, you'll need to give it a warm and moist environment at all times.
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Tap into the spooky side of plants this fall.
The world is full of creepy plants. They grow deep in the jungles of South America or high in the Himalayan Mountains or hidden in African deserts. Plants like Venus flytrap and brain cactus look like they’ll bite or poke you if you look at them the wrong way and they actually might, but most of these scary plants grow in extreme conditions in faraway places. Bumping into them soon is unlikely. But if you’re looking to stock the exotic and unusual, the following five plants provide a spooky look during Halloween and beyond.
String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) is a fun low-maintenance plant whose round “leaves” look like little peas on strings. This succulent evolved in the shaded desert areas of southwest Africa, creating little spherical balls to allow it to store water and minimize evaporation. Indoors, it needs bright indirect light, a light cactus mix soil and watering once every few weeks. One can’t pluck the peas and eat them though as they’re mildly poisonous. This plant’s gems are meant to be enjoyed with the eyes.
Purple spiderwort (Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Heart’) even has a creepy name! This plant, which has neither warts nor spiders, grows in long strands of juicy purple stems with narrow leaves, giving it a mysterious air. When it blooms, the triangular pink flowers downright glow against the smoky foliage. Purple Spiderwort needs bright light, the brighter the better, to hold that alluring color and well-draining soil. To make the plant bushier rather than long and trailing, stems can be trimmed just after each leaf intersection.
Black Magic Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’) is a swamp plant so it’s perfect for people who tend to kill plants because they water too much. Its big dark leaves don’t like full sun but rather bright filtered light. If given that and an occasional feeding of fertilizer, it rewards with a flurry of rubbery black leaves that enchant with their smooth texture and dusty veins. When it wilts in late November, no need to panic. Colocasia wants to go dormant for a few months. In February, the magic will appear again.
Hindu rope plant (Hoya carnosa ‘Compacta’) twists and turns as if it has a mind of its own. Its leaves sport a waxy coating and the blooms impress with starry pink flowers. A native to Eastern Asia and Australia, it needs bright indirect light and only occasional watering. In rainforests, it grows up trees so it will grow most vigorously in an orchid-type of soil that allows roots to get air. This lovely often hangs out like a still life for a while as it grows slowly. Once it gets happy, it will take off, especially if given a little trellis to grab on to.
Ever watch Dr. Who? Medusa’s Head seems like a plant that could star as the Doctor’s alien enemy. Its spiny tentacles grow up to a foot in length and undulate like a head of snakes. When soaking in six hours of sunlight (most likely in spring or summer), Euphorbia flanaganii will produce a weird tuft of yellow flowers, almost like a shriveled mushroom. Unlike other euphorbias, this native of South Africa likes weekly watering during warm weather. It also appreciates lighter soil though it’s not too fussy about quality. If grown in a window that gets good direct sunlight, Medusa’s Head may literally grow to the size of a human head so watch out!
One of the most often seen colors on Halloween night is black. It is the color of witches and black cats and bats. Trying to find a true black plant is a challenge, though.
Many plants that we think of as black are actually a very deep burgundy. Colors like purple and brown also play a part in Halloween mood setting. They are somber and eerie looking and can bring our minds to thoughts of death and destruction.
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The botanical name for this plant is Colocasia esculenta. This large and leafy plant is commonly known as “Black Magic Elephant Ears.” What a perfect name for a Halloween plant!
These plants are grown for their dramatic foliage that is reminiscent of the ears of an elephant. Elephant ears are a member of the arum family, to which the calla lily also belongs.
Elephant ear plants don’t like the cold. Mine stop growing when the night time temperature falls below 50° F but will return in the spring.
They will grow in pots, though. So if you have one growing on a patio, you could bring it indoors for Halloween.
This perennial isn’t actually a true grass, in spite of its name. Black mondo grass – Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ – is a member of the Poaceae family.
The plant looks similar to liriope, often called “monkey grass,” but is a different plant even though they grow in a similar way.
Black mondo grass is normally grown as a ground cover in semi shady locations, but can be grown in containers, which makes it the perfect plant for your next adult Halloween party!
Atropa belladonna has long been associated with death. It is rumored that the Roman empress Livia Drusilla used the juice of the plant to murder her husband, Emperor Augustus.
Deadly nightshade is the common name of this poisonous perennial plant in the Solanaceae family. Surprisingly, this family also includes tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants.
This plant is considered one of the most toxic plants in the Eastern Hemisphere. For this reason, you probably won’t want a container of it growing, but it is sure to be included in any list of Halloween plants.
What could be more perfect for Halloween than this fabulous lily plant that looks like a bat? The first time I discovered bat head lily was on a trip to Biltmore Estate.
The conservatory at Biltmore is filled with unusual orchids, but none quite as spectacular as this exotic looking lily. The color is a deep brown, and there is no mistaking the bat-like face.
The creepy flowers of Tacca chantrieri has “wings” on the side that look like bat wings and very long whiskers that bring to mind a creature from an alien planet.
Fortunately, bat head lilies are perfectly happy in containers, so adding one to your Halloween party as a decoration is easy to do.
Dracula and Halloween go together like a hand and a glove. Just as Dracula tempts unsuspecting victims towards him, Dracula Orchid tempts flies by trying to look like a mushroom.
The unusual flowers of Dracula orchids have a warty texture. This gives the viewer the impression that there are two small eyes in the flower, staring outward.
The colors are bright and bold. The specimen above is impressive. The center almost looks like it has a beak shaped nose.
This orchid likes cool temperatures and slightly dim light. Keep evenly moist and re-pot every few years. Other Halloween sounding names for this species of orchid are Dracula vampira, and Dracula chimaera.
With a common name like “devil’s claw plant,” you know this is a contender for classification as a spooky Halloween plant. The curved leaves of the plant are very sticky and covered with fine hairs.
The roots and tubers of the “devil’s claw plant” – Harpagophytum – are used to make medicine for all sorts of problems, including gout, arthritis and muscle pain.
The plant grows across the Sonoran desert in areas from Southern California and across to Texas, as well as South into Mexico.
Some members of the Amorphophallus family are known as voodoo lily plants. These plants are grown for the huge size of their flowers and for their unusual foliage.
Like the corpse plant shown below, the flowers produce a strong, and offensive odor which reminds us of rotting meat. This smell attracts flies that will eventually pollinate the flowers.
Photo adapted from original by Incidencematrix at Flickr
Although voodoo lily has an exotic appearance that indicates it would be difficult to grow, this is actually not the case.
One look at this fella and it’s easy to see how it came by its common nickname. This native of Mexico has a unique, crested shape formed from dense oval columns. The combination results in a plant that looks more like the organ inside our heads than something you’d see inside a pot. All you need is a skull to complete the look! However, though this cactus make look like a brain, lucky for us, keeping it happy doesn’t require the care our thinking member does. In fact, a brain cactus is a fairly easy to care for houseplant. Lots of bright light and water sparingly, and you’ll have a happy plant. If you want to know more about this fun dessert dweller, then take a look at this post from The Succulent Shop.
So there you have it, 5 scary plants to creep you out. Know of any other spooky plants, or have a favorite of your own? Then tell us all about it in the comments below.
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