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Create Drama with Basic Black

Black is a perennial favourite of interior decorators. While it is a great basic; the biggest advantage of black is the sophistication it lends to a setting. Clever use of black will ground a room with an elegant air of masculinity. And, as fashionistas everywhere agree, black is a power colour, drawing attention toward itself and creating a sense of drama.

Plants featuring black foliage are attention grabbers. They demand centre stage, being beautiful, unusual and strikingly good looking. Black foliage plants bring an added bonus, as they are frequently imbued with intriguing texture.

Use black foliage plants as a foil to your décor theme
Black foliage plants will add interest to your décor theme, whether you have settled for neutrals or splashed out with brights. A striking Alocasia amazonica will add contrast and interest in a room decorated in neutral colours. Alternately, a row of Peperomia caperata will balance your brights. The use of a number of black foliage plants will provide a unifying element in a room.

Cover pots
Black foliage plants look stunning in clean-lined black or white pots. Stainless steel and glass pots also provide great contemporary contrast. Graphic shapes work well to further the dramatic impact of black foliage plants.

Black Foliage

Alocasia amazonica
This is a foliage plant of striking form and colour. The glossy dark green-black leaves are shaped like arrowheads or African masks and have veins of silver. Its leaves have been known to grow quite large, up to 30 cm wide and sixty cm long. The Alocasia amazonica needs filtered light. Keep well watered in summer and infrequently in winter. Humidity is the main requirement if you really want a happy Alocasia, mist as much as you can and if possible place the container on a tray of wet pebbles/gravel. Remove dust from leaves by sponging down with water. A weak liquid fertiliser can be applied monthly in summer.

Uses: Medium to low light areas.

  • Study
  • Bathroom
  • Dining room
  • South-facing patio

Peperomia caperata
The Peperomia caperata has thick, velvety dark green leaves. The leaf surface is convoluted, and resembles a padded quilt. It grows to not more than 15cm. Its roots prefers a smallish pot, so don’t be tempted to repot it. The flower stalks resemble mouse-tails and are covered with tiny yellow-white flowers. Allow the top 2 cm of soil to dry out between watering. This plant will do well in moderate light, so it is perfect for your kitchen or dining room. Look out for three variety of Peperomia caperata; one has silvery black foliage, one has red stalks and one has dark green stalks.

Uses: Medium light areas

  • Study
  • Kitchen
  • Dining room
  • Hall
  • South-facing patio

Vriesea splendens
These handsome bromeliads have stiff, sword-shaped leaves with smooth edges, arranged in a loose rosette that can hold water in a cup-like centre. The dull green leaves are striped with black bands. Never overwater, and ensure there is good drainage in the pot. If the plant is in a cover pot, ensure that the water does not dam up and reach the roots of the plant. Keep the central ‘vase’ filled with water. The Vriesea splendens has upright, sword-shaped flower spikes, which may be produced at various times of the year, depending on conditions. When the plant has finished flowering, it may be planted out (in subtropical gardens), in a moist and shady environment.

Uses: Medium to bright light areas

  • Hall
  • Bedroom
  • Dining room
  • Living room
  • Patio

Ornamental Chilli – black fruit
Ornamental peppers have changed dramatically over the last few years to become real décor (and culinary) assets. Chilli pepper foliage is enough to warrant growing the pepper, but of course that isn't all. We now can choose from a selection of ornamental chillies, featuring red, yellow, orange and now purple fruits. Look out for the chilli with the dark purple to black fruit. Be warned – this is a handsome plant, and its fruits are edible, but they are fiery hot. Keep the soil moist but do not overwater. Feed with a week liquid fertiliser during the growing season. Plant out into the garden when the plant get leggy.

Uses: Bright light areas

  • Kitchen
  • Bedroom
  • Dining room
  • Living room
  • Patio

Begonia rex
This plant is also aptly named the ‘painted leaf plant’. Its leaves feature a variety of colours, including splashes of black. Begonia rex are the showboats of the begonia world that are grown for their multi-coloured leaves, which come in every colour, pattern and shade, and every size and shape. They do bloom but are not grown for their blooms, which pale in comparison to their spectacular leaves. Allow the soil to dry out between watering. Over watering will cause the roots to rot. Feed with liquid fertiliser in summer. Bright light will maintain good variegated leaf colour.

Uses: Bright light areas

  • Patio
  • Dining room
  • Living room

Fittonia
The foliage on the Fittonia is very decorative, earning it the name Mosaic Plant or Silver Net Plant. The leaves are not, strictly speaking, black, but rather dark green, with stunning crimson veins. In the case of the Fittonia, more is more. One plant makes an impact, whereas three Fittonias grouped together in cover pots of differing heights will immediately draw the eye with their sheer beauty. For your next dinner party, place five Fittonias in a row on your dining room table. Use red or black cover pots to add drama, and intersperse with red candles. The Fittonia appreciates bright light, but not direct sunlight. Keep moist at all times, and mist regularly. The leaves on your Fittonia will drop if the plant is placed in a draughty position. Apply a weak liquid fertiliser once a week in summer.

You can continue your black plant theme outdoors, with the use of the popular black ornamental grasses, ground covers, perennials and shrubs. Visit your local plant retailer for more information about black foliage pants.