Your Inner Emo Kid Is Going to Fall Hard for These Goth Plants

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The term “goth plants” isn’t one you’ll see in your average box store garden department. These plants have darker leaves and flowers, deeper and richer colors, and/or other components that are more emo than your run-of-the-mill greenery. 

This Reddit thread on Colocasia Black Magic led me to the Plant Goths thread, and my interest was officially piqued. I joined the House Plant Hobbyist group on Facebook due to a friend’s recommendation and searched “goth plants.” The results did not disappoint.

Maribeth Latvis, a professor and Herbarium Director at South Dakota State University, explained to Apartment Therapy what makes the leaves so much darker than the others. “The deep purple/red leaves are usually due to high concentrations of anthocyanin pigments,” said Latvis. “The darker the leaf, the higher the temperature, which may not be a good thing for the plant. However, higher concentrations of anthocyanin can help a plant mitigate photo-inhibition and can act as a deterrent against herbivores.”

Latvis said that people who want to get a goth plant should have some luck at their local greenhouse or garden club. But there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to caring for them: some need lots of shade, some need lots of sun. They need to be taken care of with an individual approach, just like any other plant. 

Jesse Waldman, Brand Developer of Pistils Nursery in Portland, Oregon, backed this notion up. “Plants with specific coloration often need special care. For example, some variegated plants will need bright light to sustain their variegation but will also burn more easily if put in direct sun,” said Waldman. “It has more to do with the specific genus and species/cultivar than the color itself. In our experience, though, it’s always best to research the specific care needs of each of your plants.”

Waldman had some parting advice for people who want to increase the goth aesthetic of their plants but have trouble procuring ones with darker leaves. “If you can’t find that particular dark plant you’re seeking, consider creating the aesthetic you’re after by changing what you do have control over—the way the plant is potted and styled. A black or charcoal grey planter can create a striking ‘goth’ effect. Likewise, you can ‘top-dress’ the soil with any number of substrates—sand, black pebbles, crystals, etc. ­—that can create the look you’re after, accentuate the natural beauty, and bring out otherwise unnoticed characteristics of the plants.”

After getting the professional scoop on goth plants, I put together a list of some favorites that I’m now going to set out on procuring:

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1. Colocasia Black Magic

The Colocasia Black Magic is a cornerstone of goth plants because it fits the aesthetics perfectly: the leaves are such a dark shade of purple/blue that it can legitimately look black in certain light. It’s also one of the most readily available dark-leaved plants.

Credit: Taweesak Sriwannawit/Shutterstock

2. Heirloom Alocasia

This plant fit the bill with its deep purple leaves and can grow quite large, too. It’s a rarer one to find, but seeds are for sale online, if nothing else.

Credit: Anna Yu/Getty Images

3. Black Mondo Grass

Black Mondo Grass has earned its spot on the list because it’s not difficult to purchase, plus its blades are so dark that they look black.

Credit: Alastair Wallace/Shutterstock

4. Aeonium Zwartkop

Also known as the Black Rose Tree, this broody, gorgeous plant isn’t always easy to find at every nursery, but it’s available on Amazon.

Credit: Hortimages/Shutterstock

5. Purple Basil

Not only is the purple basil’s leaves a lovely color, but you don’t have to go on a wild goose chase to find it. Plus, its leaves are delicious and slightly spicy.

Credit: Ailisa/Shutterstock

6. Black Velvet Petunias

These beautiful flowers might be among the most black-looking of goth plants out there. The shade of the petals can get so dark that you have to look closely to confirm they’re not actually black.