Halloween Plants – 21 Spooky Plants to Set A Scary Mood

It’s time to get your spook on – with creepy flowers, Halloween plants and all sorts of growing things that are sure to make you feel a Halloween mood.Halloween plants

Traditional Halloween decorating is done with just a few plants and colors. This time of the year is cold and plants in most areas of the country are starting to go dormant.

However, this doesn’t mean that our gardening hearts are being put to bed for the winter when we get the garden ready for fall. Most true gardeners think of plants all year long – and the holidays are no exception.

Colorful Plants associated with Halloween

In a traditional Halloween garden setting, pots of chrysanthemums and asters along with pumpkins are often used to set a festive mood. Natural items are the most common things to use in any Halloween decor project.

Fall porch with mums and pumpkins

While this is a great look for fall, pumpkins and mums are not the only Halloween plants available. Depending on where you live in our world, Mother Nature has a whole host of spooky plants that remind us of Halloween.

The color and common names of plants play a big part in deciding which are the spookiest plants for Halloween.

Black, purple and brown Halloween plants

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.Hand around tree - Black plants for Halloween

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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Black Magic elephant ear

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.

Black mondo grass

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!

Deadly Nightshade

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.Belladonna berries

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.

Bat Head Lily

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.Bat head lily is one of my favorite Halloween plants

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 Orchid

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.

Dracula orchid

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.

Devil’s Claw Plant

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.

Devil's Claw plant is one of my favorite Halloween plants

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.

Voodoo Lily

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.

Voodoo Lily

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. 

Orange, yellow and red plants Halloween plants

Since red is also the color of blood, red flowers also have their place in any Halloween decor. Orange and yellow flowers are also a great choice for spooky Halloween plants, since they coordinate with pumpkins so easily.

I use orange all the time at Halloween, even in my drinks and cocktails.  See my Halloween Witches Brew cocktail with gummy worm garnish for an example.

Orange Plants for Halloween

Some of these spooky plants are available at garden centers and others might require a trip into the jungle!

Chinese Lanterns

The pods of the Chinese Lantern plant start out green but by the end of their growing season in early fall, the color turns to orange. This plant is Mother Nature’s way of giving us a natural Jack-O-Lantern.Chinese lantern plant

Their rustic color makes them the perfect choice for fall decorations. The plant likes full sun and is hardy in zones 3 to 9.

One note: Like many other plants on this list, Chinese lantern plants are considered poisonous. Even though they are often seen this time of the year, don’t decorate with them if you have young children or pets in the house who might be tempted to eat them.

Corpse Flower

It is not the look of corpse flower – amorphophallus titanum –  that will scare you, but the smell surely might.  Not to worry, in cultivation, this plant only flowers once in 7-10 years so you won’t have the smell around very often.

Huge corpse flower

While the plant is blooming, the flower has a strong odor similar to rotting meat, thus the common name “corpse flower.” The reason for the smell is that dung beetles, flies and other insects are attracted to this smell and they are the primary pollinators of the flowers.

Corpse flower is called one of the world’s largest flowers. Its bloom can grow to more than eight feet in height and four feet across. It is a rare tropical plant that is native to the rain forests of Indonesia.

Witch Hazel

It is not often that plants flower around Halloween time, but witch hazel is an exception. Hamamelis virginiana, has a common name “witch hazel.” It is a fall-blooming, deciduous tree that is native to The Appalachian Mountain area of Eastern North America.

Legend has it that the wood of the tree has special powers to detect underground salt and water, as well as precious metals.

Witch hazel flowers

These qualities give Witch Hazel an eerie quality, that makes it a spooky plant to observe around Halloween.

Bleeding heart

Blood is often associated with Halloween, so a plant with the name bleeding heart seems to be a contender in our search for Halloween plants.

The flowers of Dicentra Spectabilis – commonly known as bleeding heart, are even shaped like hearts. Extending from the end of the bloom is a tear drop shaped petal which gives the plant its spooky Halloween name.

Bleeding heart plant

Normally, bleeding heart blooms in spring, so it is unlikely to find one blooming in autumn unless you live in a very tropical zone. If you can find it, the plant would be perfect to add to any Halloween display.

Find out more about growing bleeding heart here.

Dragon’s Blood Sedum

The deep red flower buds of “Dragon’s Blood Sedum” are the color of blood, which has long been associated with Halloween. The leaves turn red when the cool temperatures of fall arrive. The botanical name of the plant is sedum spurium. Dragon's blood sedum

The plant is used as a ground cover and is also popular in rock gardens. Fortunately, this sedum is winter hardy in zones 3-9, so it can take those cool fall temperatures in stride.

This makes it an ideal plant for your Halloween decorations.

Spider lily

Lycoris radiata has dozens of long and curling stamens which give this lily its common name “spider lily.”  What could be more Halloween inspired than spiders?

The plant is common in areas of Asia. In Japan, the red spider lily signals the arrival of fall. Many Buddhists will plant spider lilies on graves as a tribute to the dead.

Red spider lily

Legends show this flower as having a connection to the dead. Japanese translations of the Lotus Sutra depict spider lilies as ominous flowers that grow in Hell, and guide the dead into the next reincarnation.

Halloween is not just about pumpkins and mums. Head on over to The Gardening Cook to find a list of 21 spooky plants just perfect for Halloween. 👻😈👹☠ Click To Tweet

White Halloween Plants

Halloween has long been paired with ghosts and mummies, both as outdoor decorations and in Halloween costumes. White plants for Halloween

The color white also has a smokey and eerie feel that sets a mood beautifully. Here are a few white Halloween plants to bring on that spooky feeling.

Ghost Plant

Monotropa uniflora is also known as ghost plant, Indian pipe or corpse plant because of its eerie and ghostly look. It is a perennial plant that is native to temperate areas of Asia, North America and South America.Ghost plants are one of my favorite Halloween plants

The plant is unusual in look but is found in quite a wide area of the USA, from Maine to California and from Florida to Alaska.  You won’t find it in the Southwest, Mountainous West or Central Rocky Mountains, though. 

One unusual aspect of this plant is that it has no chlorophyll and does not depend on photosynthesis to grow. That means that this ghostly plant is able to grown in the darkest of forests.

Old Man Cactus

Nature is amazing. To decorate for Halloween, one has only to look to a plant called “old man cactus.” This fun variety of spiky cactus has the botanical name cephalocereus senilis.  

The plant has fluffy tufts of hair which sit over a surface of spikes on a tall cactus body.Halloween plants like old man cactus add to your holiday decor

The look is reminiscent of an old man, thus the common name. To use this plant to decorate, I like to add a pair of wiggle eyes and my Halloween decorating is done!

This interesting cactus is not just a plant for Halloween. It is an easy care addition to any cactus garden. Get my growing tips for old man cactus here.

Ghost plant succulent

In spite of the common name – “ghost plant,” Graptopetalum paraguayense doesn’t have a scary look. It is a hardy succulent with pale gray or white colored leaves. It is native to Mexico and is often used as a ground cover.Ghost plant

Ghost plant succulent is quite drought-tolerant.  If your plant begins losing an some leaves, don’t worry. Hold back on the watering a bit and use those extra leaves to grow new succulents

Succulents are easy to grow and popular with those new to gardening. Care of succulents depends on the variety but most need bright sunlight and don’t like to be over-watered.  Find out more about growing succulents here.

Doll’s Eye Plant

The berries of Actaea pachypoda, commonly known as “doll’s eye plant,” are stark white with a single black dot on a bright red stem. The entire plant is toxic to humans and can even cause hallucinations.

Even a small contact with skin can cause blisters.The white eyeball looking berries of Doll's Eye plant makes it one of my favorite Halloween plants

For this reason, it’s not likely that you would use doll’s eye to decorate for a Halloween party, but it still belongs in our list of spooky Halloween plants.

It is not just Halloween plants that are toxic to humans and pets. Many plants, including some common houseplants such as dieffenbachia,  are also toxic.
 
The ASPCA has a search page on their site for more information on plants that are toxic to pets.

Spooky green Halloween plants

With all the colorful scary plants to choose from, green plants might be considered boring at Halloween time, but look again. These spooky plants will set a Hallowoeen mood simply because of their names.Spooky green plants for Halloween

If you add them to your Halloween decor, be sure to add a name tag to the pot to show your guests why you chose this particular plant for a Halloween decoration!

Venus Flytrap

Remember the classic thriller Little Shop of Horrors?  In the musical, a florist raised a plant, named Audrey II, that fed on human blood and flesh.

The movie version featured a creature that was a crossbreed of a butterwort and Venus flytrap and was named Audrey Junior. This creature was intent on taking over the world.

Because of this movie and musical history, it is no wonder that Venus flytrap made it to my list of Halloween plants. The look is enough to scare you silly! 

Venus Fly Trap is at the top of my list of scary Halloween plants

If you live on the East Coast of the United States in North and South Carolina, you may have seen this plant. It is native to the wetlands of this area. 

The “Venus flytrap” (Dionaea muscipula) is a carnivorous plant that catches insects and spiders with a trapping structure formed no the ends of the plant’s leaves.

The traps are triggered by tiny hairs, and snaps shut on its  prey. The Venus flytrap plant is listed as as a vulnerable species by the National Wildlife Federation.

Brain cactus

Skulls have long been associated with Halloween. Brain cactus is a unique type of cactus that not only has the spooky name but also the unusual shape of the brain itself!

The “brain cactus,” Mammillaria Elongata ‘Cristata’, is native to central Mexico. It’s an unusual form of the Mammillaria cactus that has a worm like crested shape that resembles a human brain, which is how it got its common name.

Some think that the cactus looks like worms, which are also associated with Halloween.

Brain cactus is one of my favorite Halloween plants

The shape of brain cactus occurs because of damage to the plant when it is young.  Cells of the plant multiply at a faster rate than normal at the place of the damage.

This causes the twisted nature of the cactus that makes it resemble a human brain.

Brain cactus is a common house plant that is easy to find and easy to grow. It makes the perfect addition to any Halloween decor.

Spider plant

Chlorophytum is a tropical variegated plant that sends out long stems which have smaller versions of the mother plant at the end. The common name for this plant is “spider plant.”spider plant with babies

The babies are easy to remove and grow as new plants. Because of their ease of propagation, you can have dozens of the spiders mixed in with your Halloween decorations.

Sensitive plant

The last spooky Halloween plant to make it to my list was chosen because it actually reacts when you touch it. Sensitive plants belong to a group of plants that are nyctinastic – they close up at night.

When you touch a sensitive plant, the leaf reacts by closing up slightly. After about 10 minutes, the leaves will open up again.

sensitive plant

Mimosa pudica is the botanical name for this spooky Halloween plant that is hard to resist testing! Find out more about nyctinastic plants here.

Not only are these 21 Halloween plants scary looking, they have spooky names and back up the names with eerie looking flowers, leaves and berries. These creepy plants all scream that Halloween is here!

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a favorite Halloween plant that I have missed? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Pin these Halloween plants for later.

Would you like a reminder of these spooky Halloween plants? Just pin this image to one of your Halloween boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.21 spooky Halloween plants

You can also watch my spooky Halloween plants video on YouTube.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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