Raise your hand if Halloween is YOUR holiday!
I’m not a slasher movie kind of gal. I’m more of a
kind of gal.
I love the artistry and attention to detail that goes into a really good Halloween display. I love finding touches of the macabre in unexpected places.
I have learned that nature is great at doing Halloween right. I’m not a master gardener. Yes, I realize not all of these would grow in the same place. But just imagine if they could! I seriously want to create the ultimate Halloween-themed garden with this wish-list of creepy plants.
Corpse Flower A (Titan Arum)- I’ll get this one out of the way because it’s one of the most well-known creepy-vibe flowers. This stinky behemoth can take up to 10 years to bloom and put out its lovely rotting corpse smell. They’re huge, awesome, and definitely very smelly. Do you have a neighbor you’d like to run off? If you’re looking to try your hand and patience at growing one, Corpse flowers are tropical. They’re only hardy in growing zone 10.
Corpse Flower B (Rafflesia arnoldii)- Here’s another type of corpse flower with a powerful stench. This one blooms once a year. It’s the largest blooming flower in the world and very rare. No luck growing it, but just imagine this beauty as the focal point of our awesome Halloween garden!
Voodoo Lily (Dracunculus vulgaris)- If you’re a fan of the corpse flowers, this might be an easier option to grow. Not only is it impressively evil-looking, it carries a nicely unpleasant odor.
Octopus Stinkhorn (Clathrus archeri)- Octopus or Devil’s Fingers, here’s another really unique statement piece for your garden. It’s red and oozy, stinky, and horrifically fascinating.
Bleeding Tooth (Hydnellum peckii)- This beauty has several names, but my favorite might be Devil’s Tooth. The young fungus oozes blood-red droplets of sap. The older plant creates teeth like spores underneath and kind of looks like a molar from the top. Have a forest in your backyard? Bleeding Tooth is fairly common in mountain forest areas.
Ghost Plant (Monotropa uniflora)- This is the albino of the plant world. It doesn’t contain any chlorophyll so we get to enjoy its unique beauty and smugly tell our friends that it’s a parasite that lives on the life-force of other fungus. You’ll have no luck growing this one, so go ghost hunting in the forest.
Zombie Fungus (Cordyceps)- Zombie fungus specializes in mind control. Yes, really. It releases spores in search of the perfect host (usually ants or other insects), then takes over its nervous system in order to make the ant carry it to the best place for it to grow. Once it finds a nice, cozy home, it consumes its host. This is the stuff of horror films and nightmares. It’s even the subject of a video game.
Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha)- Yes, the dead are rising, but it’s probably not a good idea to try and grow this one in your garden. It has a tendency to kill things (imagine that).
Cockscomb (Cockscomb celosia)- This is me using my best zombie voice, “Braaaaaaaaaaains!” Ok, moving along. This is a very viable option for your Halloween garden. You never know when an extra brain or two will come in handy.
Brain Mushroom (Gyromitra esculenta)- If Cockscomb looks too bloody for you, try this one instead. Depending on who you talk to, this brain is even edible. It’s all in the preparation apparently.
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus)- This awesome plant is not only common, it offers double prizes for the discerning Halloween gardener. Snapdragons get their name from the profile of its flower that is said to resemble a dragon. If you gently squeeze, you can make the dragon’s maw open and close. Pretty cool, huh? But wait! It gets better! Let those little dragons go to seed and watch the human skull appear. Everyone should have such a magical plant in their garden IMHO but it’s best in zones 7-10.
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)- Such a lovely and innocent-looking bloom. Until you look a little closer. Here is a flower that reminds us that even the prettiest things can hold secrets. If you live in an HOA this might be the perfect flower to plant over the body you never want found. If you don’t need to be that subtle, go for the black variety.
Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus)- If Bleeding Hearts are a little too subtle for you, I suggest fabulous trails of blood. As an added bonus, it grows well in most places and seems to be one of the easier plants for those of us with black thumbs to grow. Need bleeding walls as a backdrop for your garden? Love Lies Bleeding is the perfect touch!
Devil’s Hand Tree (Chiranthodendron pentadactylon)- Like many others on this list, the Devil’s Hand tree is slowly dying away. If you live in the southwest, you’d be doing the world a favor by cultivating this creepy piece of nature that even the Aztecs treated with reverence.
Devil’s Walking Stick (Aralia spinosa)- Just look at the thorns on this thing! Not a normal gardener’s showpiece, for sure, but what an awesome backdrop for our particular tastes. It does bloom and look “pretty” so the neighbors won’t think you’re completely crazy.
Doll’s Eyes (Actaea pachypoda)- This one lives up to its creepiness factor in both appearance and use. Doll’s eyes are poisonous. On the other hand, if your household doesn’t include children, these disturbing little gems are said to be very easy to grow in zones 3-8.
Eyeball Plant (Spilanthes acmella oleracea)- Here’s another variety of eyeball plant for you. This particular version looks like they came from someone who is possessed or is recovering from a particularly hard night of partying. These eyeballs appear to be another one that is fairly easy to grow, as long as you remember to feed it extra dead things (fertilizer).
Lotus Pods (Nelumbo nucifera)- If Doll Eyes aren’t your thing, how about alien eyes? This plant gets bonus points for creepiness both while living and, um, dead.
Hanging Naked Man (Orchis italica)- Yep, you see what you think you see. Keep in mind that if you want to grow dead men, they don’t like direct sunlight and need rotting things (fungus) in their soil in order to thrive. Yep, that sounds about right.
Dracula Orchids (Dracula)- This is actually a whole class of orchids and they all have amazingly weird features. It’s kind of like picking your favorite depiction of the legend himself. In true vampire form, these orchids grow attached to tree hosts from which they draw nutrients that other plants would gain from the soil. Remember Renfield? No bees for these guys, they lure in flies in order to provide pollination. Also like its namesake, this orchid needs a cool, shady climate, and perhaps a wooden, coffin-shaped pot?
Bat Flower (Tacca chantieri)- A little harder to grow, but the WOW factor might make it worth it for the ambitious Halloween gardener. This is one amazingly creepy flower!
Bat Face Cupha (Cuphea llavea ‘Torpedo’)- I’m sorry, I think these are just too cute to be scary. Who wouldn’t want these growing in their garden?
Spider Orchid (Brassia)- There are many varieties of this super creepy-crawly plant. If you can grow orchids, go wild and include a couple of varieties. Can a garden really have too many spiders?
Darth Vader Flower (Aristolochia Salvadorensis)- While awesome, this one is extremely hard to grow. On the other hand, if you’ve always wanted to be the one to kill Darth Vader, this plant has you covered.
Medusa Head Cactus (Euphorbia flanaganii)- This is the original Medusa. But to be fair, this awesome look can also be achieved with a Snake Catus, Rat Tail, or Dog Tail Catus. It just depends on where you live and your favorite type of snake.
Hooker Lips (Psychotria elata)- You didn’t think I’d forget to throw in a Rocky Horror Picture Show reference did you? A toast to Hooker Lips! Alas, these beauties are tropical and require special care in a hothouse. (Do you see what I did there?)
Halloween Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana)- This one is for the kid in me. I totally want to plant a circular bed with orange pansies and black Halloween II pansies in the shape of a pumpkin.
Go ahead, check out a few and I’ll bet you’ll be redesigning your garden too!
Alison Palmer is a quirky writer with multi-colored hair who lives in the middle of a land scorched by dragon’s breath. She is the mother of four children who are in training to be a Witch, a Dragon’s Princess, a Knight and a Dwarf. When she’s not actively daydreaming, she can be found searching old nooks and crannies for a brownie or house elf willing to come home and do the dishes for her. If she can’t find a brownie a pet unicorn would do.