When it comes to Halloween décor, I tend to favor the weird over the cutesy, and botanical decorations always appeal to me more than plastic ones. This goes for any holiday, really, but especially for Halloween, which strikes me as a great opportunity to decorate with bizarre plants and containers.
Of course there are tons of strange and spooky plants you can grow year-round, indoors and out, that can be featured at Halloween, in cut arrangements or in their natural habitat. If this seems like too much of a commitment, though, you can always try out a temporary planting project to be used at a party or to entice trick-or-treaters. Here are a few of our favorite plants and botanical projects for a Halloween mood from around the web.
• 1 How clever is this cemetery terrarium? The natural condensation that forms on the inside of terrarium glass will only make this seem spookier and more moody. Love it! The terrarium comes as a planting kit for $34, from LBrandt on Etsy, who also sells a tiny little grim reaper you can add to your bonsai (squint to find him in photo number 2). Nice.
• 3 An argument can be made that there is nothing spooky about these sweet succulent bust planters from Floral Art in LA, but I think the trailing sedum kind of looks like brains spilling out. Maybe I'm just a little too deep in the Halloween mood, eh? Either way, these are fabulous. The pair of planters is $300, and if you live in the LA area, you can get them planted up with succulents.
• 4 When it was still around, Smith and Hawken used to make this spider topiary; it would be relatively easy to replicate at home. A coat hanger could serve as the legs; fashion a mossy ball for the head, and use any round or spherical plant for the body. A succulent (a round one, like an echeveria) would actually work great as the body, since it will hold up without its soil and roots for quite a while. A more unusual plant choice will help push this in the weird direction (rather than the cute).
• 5 Certain plants in the gray/white family have a kind of opalescent glow in the darkness, like this succulent, Graptopetalum paraguayense. I've always thought it would be fun to have a whole garden full of plants like these, if only just so you've got an amazing backdrop for a Halloween party (with blankets and cider!).
• 6 Spilanthes oleracea is commonly called "eyeball plant". 'Nuff said. These would be great in a cut bouquet. The plant likes partial shade, and if you live in a colder climate you'll have to grow it as an annual (or bring it indoors).
• 7 True to its name, the gorgeous "devil's thorn," Solanum pyracanthum, actually does produce poisonous fruits. Scary and beautiful, all at once.
• 8 I used to grow the bat-faced cuphea, Cuphea ilavea, in my own garden, and it was always covered with these cute flowers that did indeed look like bats up close. From afar, there's nothing especially scary about the plant, but it beats bat-shaped confetti, anyhow.
Next week in Garden Party: carnivorous plants, from garden to vase!
(Images: LBrandt on Etsy (1 and 2); Floral Art; This Old House; Katie Elzer-Peters, Go Organic Gardening (5 and 6); Garden Design, courtesy of Timber Press, Inc; McCabe's Nursery)