My Halloween Garden
Odd Plants for Halloween
October in Louisiana is usually mild, with maybe a touch of cool fall-like weather, so many flowers are still blooming for Halloween.
The ones I have chosen for my Halloween garden are ones that this garden witch actually grows or has grown. Not all of them bloom or bear fruit in October, but they all have Halloween sounding names like "Bat Face Cuphea", "Devil's Walking Stick" and "Candy Corn Vine" or creepy looking growth habits. Many have flowers that attract hummingbirds and/or fruit for song birds and other animals.
I've included a brief description of each, with a picture, and where they can be purchased if possible. Some are native plants and others are hard to find. We hope you enjoy your virtual visit to our Halloween garden.
Oregon Passion Flower aka Dragon Flower
There are many native and non-native plants with unusual or weird names. I've gathered a few here, that we have grown in our gardens in Louisiana. Some of the ones we have chosen, like the Voodoo Lily, actually look very strange, too.
Unusual Native Plants
Devil's Walking Stick - Aralia spinosa
Devil's Walking Stick gets its common name from the thorn like bark that covers its trunk. It is a small tree that is covered with large clusters of white flowers in spring which are used by a variety of pollinators. In the Fall, Blackberries, that are devoured by many fruit eating song birds, follow.
Green Dragon - Arisaema dracontium
Green Dragon is a relative of Jack in the Pulpit, another more attractive native. This plant looks like it belongs in a Halloween garden. It is a perennial which grows from a corm like root in partial shade.
Rattlesnake Fern - Botrychium virginianum
Rattlesnake Fern is a small, uncommon fern that grows along the openings in forests in Louisiana. The spore casings look like the rattle of a rattlesnake.
Rough Skullcap - Scutellaria integrifolia
Skullcap is a beautiful native perennial. There are several varieties, but S. integrifolia is the only one native to Louisiana. Skullcap gets its name from the shape of the seed pods, which look like the skullcaps that the friars wear.
Water Spider Orchid - Orchid Habenaria repens
Water Spider Orchid is an unusual native orchid that grows along the edges of ponds and in the mucky soil of wetland areas. The blooms look like hundreds of small spiders, so you can see why I included it in my Halloween garden.
Witch Hazel - Hamamelis virginiana
Witch Hazel is a native medicinal tree which was named 'Hazel' because the European colonists thought it resembled European Hazel. The witch name is because of its method of seed dispersal. After the flowers bloom in fall and winter, the seed pods ripen until spring, when they will suddenly explode like magic, sending the seeds off in many directions.
Witch Hazel Seeds
Weird or Strange Non-Native Plants
Bat Face Cuphea - Cuphea llavea
Bat Face Cuphea and most of the other Cuphea flowers are favored by hummingbirds. The flower of Cuphea llavea looks like the face of a tiny bat. These plants like dry, sunny spots and do well in pots. They are not cold hardy.
Black Dragon Coleus
Black Dragon Coleus is one of the many colors of Coleus. Coleus are annuals that are prized for their colorful leaves. They are easy to propagate from cuttings or seeds.
Candy Corn Vine - Manettia inflata or Manettia luteorubra
The flowers of the Candy Corn Vine look like little pieces of the Halloween candy. Hummingbirds swarm over them. Manettia inflata and M. luteorubra are hard to grow in Louisiana. They like cooler, less humid air. I have better luck with its cousin, Manettia cordifolia which comes back every year.
Devil's Pincushion or Annual Lion's Ear - Leonotis nepetifolia or Leonotis nepetaefolia
You can see by the picture why it is called Devil's Pin cushion. The flower heads are covered with orange tubular flowers and the seed pods have sharp points. This great hummingbird plant certainly deserves a place in the Halloween Garden.
These plants usually come back from seed each year. But to be sure, we collect some of the seed heads when they turn brown by clipping them with clippers into a large margarine container. Then we put the lid on and shake. Remove the sticky seed heads and the small seeds will be in the bottom. Let them dry out for a week or so so they won't mold. Put them in a paper envelope and store in a cool, dry place.
Leonotis Leonurus Seeds
'Flying Dragon' Trifoliate Orange - Poncirus trifoliata
Flying Dragon is a cultivar of the citrus tree, Trifoliate Orange. This hardy tree is commonly used as rootstock for more hard to grow citrus trees. Flying Dragon has winding branches with many thorns. In some areas of the south, Trifoliate Orange has escaped cultivation and can be found growing in the wild. The fruit has many seeds, but can be used to make lemonade.
Crocosmia are an easy to grow bulb like perennials that will multiply and last for years. Some report that the red-orange flowers are used by hummingbirds. I have seen butterflies drink from the flowers.
Moonflower - Ipomoea alba
The lovely white flowers of this member of the morning glory family bloom from dusk until early morning. Moths use these delicately scented beauties and an occasional bat will stop by for an insect meal, so they are perfect for both a moon garden and a Halloween garden.
The seed pods are a little creepy and odd looking. If you let them turn brown before you harvest them, then let them dry more in a paper bag in the house, you can save the white seeds to plant next year.
Moonflower Seed Pods
Dragon Arum - Dracunculus vulgaris
Dragon arum has a strikingly beautiful flower which is best if appreciated from afar. It emits an odor similar to rotting meat to attract flies that pollinate this unusual plant. In Southeastern Louisiana it grows outside from a large bulb and comes back every year.
Voodoo Lily - Sauromatum venosum
We got our first Voodoo Lily many years ago from the Marie Laveau Voodoo Shop in the French Quarter. The eerie looking bulb sprouted and bloomed while it was sitting on the windowsill, unplanted. We planted it in a pot and it grew and multiplied for many years with little care. Sadly, the colder winters that we have in our new home have done it in. I simply must get another one soon. Did you know that flies are attracted to Voodoo lilies? A Halloween garden should not be without a Voodoo Lily.
Venus flytrap - Venus Flytrap Dionaea muscipula
The small toothed leaves of Venus flytrap open to form a trap for unsuspecting insects. When one lights on the reddish pad, the leaves snap closed. The insect is slowly consumed by the plant. Once the insect is done, the leaves open and the trap is set again.
© 2010 Yvonne L B