Most people are brainstorming the perfect get-up for Halloween, but we are also considering how you might decorate the Halloween costume party or your home to get in the spooky spirit. In this October Plant Spotlight, we'll show you all the plants and flowers you'll need to create a haunting Halloween bouquet.
Scabiosa atropurpurea 'Ace of Spades' offers velvety almost-black blooms. In USDA zones 9-11, like we have on the Central Coast, it grows as a perennial. It can be grown in other zones as an annual. Black flowers with red undertones are offset by white stamens, making this cluster of flowers look like a pincushion. Gardeners who are creating bee and butterfly habitats will find this plant useful. Black scabiosa grows to 2-3' tall and 1' wide. Give it a spot in the garden where it will get full sun and average water. It's an easy perennial that grows quickly; if it starts looking tired, give it a cutting down to 6" and it will grow back fresh. Expect scabiosa to flower from July to October, and last up to two weeks as a cut flower. Pick an odd number between 3 and 11, depending on the size of your arrangement. You can use them in a grouping low to a corner of a rectangular vase, or leave stems long and let them peak out randomly from the arrangement.
Imperata cylindrical 'Red Baron' is a green grass with red tips that bleed toward the blades' bases as they mature through summer. Blood grass is keeps a tidy upright form at 1 foot tall and spreading (slow).
Plant multiples in mass, or one in a pot for a punchy accent. Blood grass eventually turns brown in dormancy, but before it does, cut handfuls of blades down to include in your Halloween bouquet. Place 3 small groupings of the grass toward the middle of the arrangement to break up larger flowers.
The flowers from Muhlenbergia rigens 'Pink Cloud' would make a nice accent in your bouquet with it's hazy form. It blooms with shimmering pink panicles in summer, but flowers stay and ripen to seeds into winter. Pink muhly grass will grow to 30" tall by 24" wide in full sun. It looks nice planted in groupings, as an accent, or in containers. This grass is drought and salt tolerant, deer resistant, and Native to California. Place the flower, reminiscent of eerie television static, toward the back of the Hallwoeen bouquet, in front of the next leaves, which we'll use as a backdrop.
At the back of your arrangement, add in just one or two leaves from Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic' for a dark background. Choose smaller leaves from the base of the plant. Still, these are large purple-black leaves, so consider your
vase shape and if they should cup the arrangement at their base or spill over. The plant is an herbaceous evergreen that adds a tropical feel and nice contrast to the landscape. It spreads to 6' wide in wet soils, more slowly in dry, clay soils, and is 5 to 6' tall. It prefers filtered sun and needs to be protected from frost.
Even the name for this quick-growing annual is creepy, and the flowers are intriguing- Amaranthus caudatus 'Love-Lies-A-Bleeding'. This annual will grow 3-8' tall and 2' wide depending on soil fertility. Weeping
burgundy red flower tassels hang toward the ground from summer through fall. Let a cluster hang over the edge of the vase, opposite corner to the Colocasia 'Black Magic' leaves.
Behind the amaranthus flowers, place one cutting of Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop'. The deep purple fleshy leaves will create some balance to the Colocasia. We like that 'Zwarktop' has sprawling, fingerlike leaves, but the other purple top varieties like 'Cyclops' or 'Electra' would also work. Aeonium arborum 'Zwartkop' is a branching succulent that will grow 4' x 2'. It prefers cool sun/light shade, well draining soil, and protection from temperatures under 28° F. Holds its own when exposed to ocean conditions, drought, and deer.
For the last flower to add, you can pick from Sunflower 'Red Courtesean' or Celosia argentea cristata 'Cramer's Burgundy'. The multi-branched sunflower grows 4-5' tall as an annual and is as crimson red as they come. Like all sunflowers, it is great cut, but in this case is the more tame option. Cramer's Burgundy Celosia is a tightly waved ball of blooms 4-6" across and it resembles a shiny brain. The Celosia grows 30" x 24", so if you're limited on space and want an ultra-freaky arrangement, go with this one! Place 1-3 cut flowers of your choice toward the back of the Halloween bouquet, forming a triangle with the Muhlenbergia and Colocasia.
We hope you'll have as much fun as we did with this frightening flower arrangement! If you aren't able to get all of the plants we suggested, we'd love to hear what substitutions you came up with for your Halloween bouquet in the comments below!