13 Spooky Plants Perfect for Halloween

Halloween is a time for embracing all that is scary and supernatural, and a unique way to celebrate this festive season is by incorporating spooky plants into your garden.

I know, October 31 falls after the first frost for some regions of the world. But there are some plants that are unfazed by the cooler temperatures that autumn brings.

Warty gourds, chrysanthemums, black bat flower, dragon’s blood sedum, deadly nightshade–these spooky plants sound like something out of a witch’s spellbook. With vibrant colors and unusual features, these plants are sure to send shivers down your spine.

In this blog post, we will explore a variety of plants that fit a Halloween theme, adding an eerie yet enchanting touch to your outdoor space. And while it might be too late to start these mysterious flowers and foliage plants from seed this year, you can plan ahead to make next Halloween season extra spooky.

Join 1000+ gardeners to get access to news, tips, and information.

Delivered right to your inbox – once per week.

13 plants for a spooky fall garden (that aren’t pumpkins)

Sure, pumpkins are the quintessential Halloween symbol, for good reason—they are perfect for carving and decorating. Any self-respecting autumn lover wouldn’t miss the opportunity to display a pumpkin here or there, but you don’t have to stick to orange pumpkins!

Pumpkins come in different colors and patterns (green, yellow, white, speckled, and even blue!) and you can shop them here.

1. Gourds

The umbrella term for any hard-shelled cucurbit (including winter squash and pumpkins) gourds are common on doorsteps and porches this time of year. Gourds mature in early fall and, if harvested and cured properly, are shelf-stable for months. Some varieties of gourds tend to be covered in warts and have twisted shapes, setting a spooky vibe appropriate for Halloween decor. Your fall garden will be the talk of the town with any one of these specialty gourd seeds from True Leaf Market.

2. Mums

Among the most beautiful fall flowers, chrysanthemums add a timely pop of color to your garden, reaching peak color in September and October—long after summer flowers have already started to fade.

Spider mums are particularly spooky, but any variety would work wonderfully with a fall palette featuring oranges, yellows, reds, purples, and whites.

Unfortunately, mums are not frost-hardy, so if your first frost typically occurs before October 31 you’ll need to shield mums from freezing temperatures with row cover or some other means of cold protection.

3. Chinese Lantern

These bright orange pods resemble spooky lanterns and make for excellent decorative elements. A member of the nightshade family and close relative to tomatoes and ground cherries, don’t make the mistake of eating this toxic plant—keep it out of reach of young children and pets. The perennial plants produce white bell-shaped flowers that give way to rich burnt-orange seed pods by early fall. As the days draw closer to winter, the seed pods crisp up and crumble, revealing bright orange fruits underneath.

One caution with Chinese lantern: since this plant is prone to spread, it’s best to grow it in containers when possible, or keep the roots in check by cutting them back regularly.

4. Candy Corn Plant

I’d bet you haven’t heard of this one! With its tri-colored foliage resembling the popular Halloween treat, the candy corn plant is sure to add a festive fall touch to your garden.

A herbaceous shrub native to Mexico, the candy corn plant is hardy in zones 8-11 and tolerates average soils. Pollinators love the nectar-rich, tubular blooms that begin opening in summer and bloom until the first killing frost.

5. Celosia

One of the easiest flowers to grow and one that will dependably bloom from midsummer until frost, celosia adds a quirky and mysterious vibe to the garden. Ranging in color from pink pastels to burgundy, the feathery blooms are a gorgeous addition to fresh and dried flower bouquets. The elaborate flowers of Crested Celosia (available from True Leaf Market) closely resemble brains—perfect for a spooky garden!

6. Black Bat Flower

If there was just one flowering plant to grow for Halloween, this would be it. With its black flowers shaped like bat wings and framed by long, catlike whiskers, this plant is the epitome of spookiness. The black bat flower is native to Southeast Asia and will overwinter in zones 10-12—in other climates it can be grown as an annual. Like its namesake, the black bat flower doesn’t love direct sunlight—so grow it in a shady location that gets filtered sunlight. When planted in the Northern Hemisphere, the black bat flower begins blooming in October and continues to flower until November.

7. Deadly Nightshade

Glistening black berries make this plant look truly menacing (and they really are—deadly nightshade is one of the most toxic plants on the planet) and earn this woody shrub a permanent place on this list of scary plants.

Ironically, deadly nightshade (aka belladonna) the belladonna plant has been and continues to be used medicinally in small amounts–but I would NOT recommend playing witch doctor with deadly nightshade unless you are, in fact, a trained herbalist.

Why grow deadly nightshade, then? Lovely bell-shaped purple flowers give way to black berries that provide food for birds in the fall and winter. Unfortunately, deadly nightshade is a non-native plant that carries “noxious weed” status in many areas of the US, making it the most controversial plant on this list.

8. Pansies

Typically regarded as cheerful spring flowers, pansies have a mysterious, darker side as well. Varieties like Halloween II (available from True Leaf Market) are such a deep near-black purple that adds a spooky factor to the garden. Start seeds in midsummer for prolific blooms in October.

9. Coleus

Flowers are fun, but foliage plants help round out a landscape by providing greenery–or in this case, mysterious dark foliage that puts one in mind of a moonless night.

Coleus thrives in shady areas and moist soil, so it will flourish in otherwise neglected corners of your garden. A tender perennial in zones 10 and above, coleus must be moved indoors before frost or replaced each spring. Although most varieties have bright bicolored leaves, Black Dragon (available from True Leaf Market) features velvet-colored, leathery leaves that would fit perfectly with a Halloween-themed garden.

10. Moonflower

This nocturnal plant opens its large, white blooms at night, creating an ethereal glow in the moonlight. A member of the morning clory family, moonflower is a tender perennial vine in zones 10-12, but can still be enjoyed as an annual in colder climates. Moonflower is a photoperiodic plant, meaning that day length influences its bloom cycles. When days and nights are of equal length—at the fall equinox—moonflower buds will be triggered to open into large and fragrant cream-colored flowers. Order your Tall Night Flowering Moonflower Seeds from True Leaf Market today.

11. Dragon’s Blood Sedum

The vibrant red foliage of Dragon’s Blood Sedum (available from True Leaf Market) adds a dramatic element to any Halloween garden. Like all succulents, dragon’s blood sedum is drought-tolerant and compact, making it an excellent ground cover for even the poorest soils. The evergreen perennial boasts gorgeous

12. Ornamental Corn

If pumpkin patches are a quintessential fall experience, corn mazes are the (spookier) flipside of that coin. Even if you don’t have a big enough garden for a corn maze, you won’t regret planting a small patch of Bloody Butcher (available from True Leaf Market). The rich red and black kernels look striking for months so these ruby red corncobs could double as Halloween and Christmas decor in a pinch.

13. Venus Fly Trap

What’s scarier than carnivorous plants?

Venus fly traps are well-known for their ability to trap and eat insects. Diabolical and merciless, venus fly traps lure insects to their leaves with the promise of sweet nectar, then snap shut, trapping the insect (or small animal) inside. Over several days the plant secretes an “enzyme cocktail” that dissolves the insect’s exoskeleton and internal organs, and once absorbed, the leaf re-opens for its next meal. Spooky!

Although venus fly trays are slow to start from seed, they should be easy to find at your local plant nursery, so you can stock up before your Halloween party.

Creating a Halloween-themed garden is a fun, creative way to embrace the spooky season and simultaneously enjoy the last few good weather days of the year. Incorporating colorful, unique, and carnivorous plants will surely bring an otherworldly touch to your indoor or outdoor space, so let your imagination run wild and experiment with these eerie plant choices to create a hauntingly beautiful garden that will captivate all who visit (invited or not).

To find books, courses, seeds, gardening supplies, and more, check out The Shop at Greenupside!

Join 1000+ gardeners to get access to news, tips, and information.

Delivered right to your inbox – once per week.

If you want to read some of my most popular posts, check out the “Best of GreenUpSide” page here.  Enjoy!


About the author:
When not writing content or growing flowers in her native Virginia, you can find Sarah hiking a long-distance trail deep in the woods. Follow along with Sarah’s adventures at http://sarahcolliecreative.com.

Sarah C.

Recent Posts