Black Flowers

Find here tips for sowing and growing the flowers that came with your ‘Black Flowers’ seed box.

Black Hollyhock (Alcea rosea var. nigra): Sow directly in spring, from April to June. Sow the seeds flat and cover with a thin layer of soil. Keep evenly moist. The seeds germinate fast, usually within the first 2 weeks. Hardy biennial to short lived perennial, up to 150-200 cm tall. Plan for 4 plants per m2 or plant every 50 cm. Likes a spot in full sun or half shade, in nutritious, well drained, humus rich soil. A traditional spot is in front of a sun exposed house wall or by the fence. Plant together with clary sage and coneflower. Flowers nearly black, from June through to September. Will die after setting seed. Remove faded flowers and cut back for another flowering season. Old cottage garden plant, belonging into any witch or occult themed garden. The flowers are used as a medicinal tea herb and food color. They are rich in anthocyanins (from Greek: anthos – “flower” and kyaneos/kyanous – “dark blue”), which solve in water and color it deep red without changing taste. The tea is drunk to ease bronchitis symptoms and mouth ulcers. The flower extract is used externally as a wash against skin inflammations.

Purple Angelica, Dangquai (Angelica gigas): Cold germinator, self-seeding. Sow directly in autumn, on moist, humus rich soil. Or cold stratify in the fridge. Keep evenly moist and out of sunlight. May need several months for germination and requires patience. Don’t dispose seeding containers too early. Hardy biennial or short-lived perennial, up to 150 cm. Plant 2-3 plants per m2 or about every 75 cm, in the background, in groups or solitary. Teams well with coneflower, foxglove, fennel and various types of ornamental grass. Favors a place in full sun or half shade and requires a moist or damp, humus rich soil. A good place is for example by a pond or river. The roots need to be kept in shade. Extravagant appearance, with dark purple stems and green-purple, beak-shaped flower buds, unfolding into deep purple flower umbels from June to August. Attractive to pollinators. Will die after setting seed. Remove faded flowers and cut back for another flowering season. Originally from Korea, hence also known as Korean angelica. Edible.

Dark Columbine (Aquilegia atrata): Cold germinator, self-seeding. Sow directly in autumn, winter or early spring (can be sown from October through to April the following year). Sow flat and cover with just a fine layer of soil or just press on gently. May germinate irregularly, so be patient and don’t exposes sowing containers too early. Hardy perennial, up to 60 cm. Plan for 11 plants per m2 or plant every 30 cm, along hedges, in the foreground or between other medium high flowering plants. Teams up nicely with mountain knapweed and lady’s slipper orchid. Prefers a well lit place in full sun or half shade, on calciferous, well drained, humus rich soil. In the wild it is found growing in forests, on fens and as part of tall herbaceous vegetation. A rare plant, with gothic dark purple flowers from May to July. Requires little care and easily spreads through self-seeding. Fits well into any cottage and wildlife garden or also on graves. Poisonous!

Black ‘Barlow’ Columbine (Aquilegia vulg. ‘Black Barlow’): See above. The “Black Barlow” is a hybrid form of common columbine, with dark purple or nearly black, filled flowers. It is common in English cottage gardens and an easy to grow classic for any gothic black flower themed garden. Poisonous!

Black Ball Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus ‘Black Ball’): light germinator, self seeding. Sow from April to May or August -September, directly in the place, where you wish to grow them and later prick out. Sow flat and just press on gently. Annual, frost tolerant, up to 50 cm. If sown in late summer, it will act as a biennial, flowering the following year. Plan for about 16 plants per m2, or one plant every 25 cm. Teams up nicely with white corn flowers, poppies, cosmos and other field flowers. Grows in full sun, on low-nutrient, well-drained soil. Cut flowers will last for 5-8 days. Edible, astringent, anti-inflammatory, used in tea blends and for decorating salads.

Black Devil’s Trumpet (Datura metel ‘Fastuosa’): Preculture: sow indoors in February or in a warm green house. Or sow directly in May. Prior to sowing, soak seeds for 24 hours in fresh tepid water. Sow ca. 0,5 cm deep in moist soil, under glass or cover with plastic wrap. Germination may take 3-4 weeks or longer. Plant outdoors after the last frosts, in containers or directly to the ground. Annual, not frost tolerant, up to 150 cm tall. Set single plants about 90 cm apart. Favors full sun or half shade and nutritious, calcareous, clayey, well-drained soil. Tall thorn-apple plants may fall over if planted in too loose soil. Shelter from strong winds and lend growth support. Bushy growth, stems may turn semi-woody. Bizarre appearance, with shiny, dark purple or nearly black stems and filled flowers, that are white on the inside. Naturalized in Israel, the black flowering datura is found along roadsides. Flowers from June on until late fall. Fruits are smooth, lacking thorns and contain the yellow-orange seeds. Selfseeding. Caution: all parts of the plant are poisonous! Do not ingest, wear gloves and wash hands after handling!

Sweet William ‘Sooty’ (Dianthus barbatus nigrescens ‘Sooty’): Selfseeding. Sow directly from April to July, or preculture indoors from September to October. The soil needs to be raked and stones removed prior to sowing. Sow ca. 6 mm deep and 30 cm apart. Cover loosely with a fine layer of soil. Germinates usually within 2-3 weeks. Plant outdoors after the last frost, in containers, baskets or flower beds. Frost tolerant, biennial to short lived perennial, about 40 cm tall. Favors full sun and rich, clayey, very well drained soil. Make sure the soil is not sopping wet during the winter time. Cut back to 2-4 cm after first frost. Deadhead for continuous flowering. The fragrant flowers occur from May to August and attract various pollinators. They can be cut and made into bouquets. Both foliage and flowers are a deep ruby-black in color and a classic in cottage gardens.

Dusky Crane’s-bill ‘Raven’ (Geranium phaeum ‘Raven’): Cold germinator, selfseeding. Sow in autumn or late winter. Or cold-stratify the seeds in the fridge for 3 months at ~4°C. Sow flat, one seed every 2 cm, and cover with a fine layer of soil. Keep moist and in low temperatures, ideally at 5-10°C. Germination may take 1-3 months. If the seeds do not germinate, do not give up yet. Instead, simply leave the sowing containers outdoors over the next winter. In the wild crane’s-bill easily sows out itself and spreads quickly. It favors a fresh but well drained soil and grows in damp shade, half shade or full sun. Usually up to 60 cm in height, it makes a beautiful ground-cover plant. Plant 30-40 cm apart. Cut back after the first flower for a second flowering period. Flowering time: May-July. Flower color: dark brown to purple. Origin: Russia, Europe. Other names are ‘Black widow’, ‘Mourning widow’, ‘Trauernde Wittwe’, ‘Teufelsregenschirm’.

Black-flowering oriental hellebores (Helleborus orientalis hybrids): Cold germinator, self seeding. Sow directly from June to February, or preculture indoors. First soak the seeds for 2-3 days in warm water prior to sowing. Then sow flat on moist well-drained seeding compost and cover just with a thin layer of soil or grit. In nature the seeds are first exposed to autumn warmth, then winter cold and finally snow melt. To imitate this process, you may have to move them from warm to cold (-4 to +4°C for 6-8 weeks), and then to about 10°C and eventually repeat for a second time. Hellebore seeds are known to germinate very irregularly, sometimes staying dormant for 1-2- years. So please do not give up on them. I have had Hellebore seeds germinate in the flower bed even 4 years after with no sign of life in between. Once germinated, the little hellebore plants will need another 1-2 years, until they set flower in late winter or early spring, which is why their are also known as Lenten roses. It is easier, to propagate hellebore by taking cuttings. Or simply allow to self-seed once established. Contained in this mix are seeds from both filled and plain ruby-black as well as ‘slate’ black-flowering hellebore strains from our garden. Btw. if you keep the sowing containers outdoors, you may want to cover them with wire mesh to protect them from birds or rodents. This still does not prevent ants from carrying them away… Yes, ants feed on the little oil bodies (elaiosomes) attached to hellebore seeds and carry them into their nest. Which is in fact one way, how hellebore spreads in nature. 😉 And finally, all parts of hellebore are poisonous! Do not ingest, wear gloves and wash hands after handling!

Crimson Loosestrife (Lysimachia atropurpurea ‘Beaujolais’): Sow in spring or autumn, when temperatures are cool, but not freezing. Ideal are 14-18°C. Sow the seeds on the surface and do not cover them or sprinkle just a thin layer of soil over them. Germination may take 1-3 months. Plant outdoors after the first frost, leaving about 45 cm space between single plants. If you sow in autumn, over-winter seedlings in a heated green house. Hardy perennial, up to 70 cm tall, with silver-green foliage and exotic dark-purple flower spikes from June to September. Prefers a spot in full sun or half shade and a loamy, well-drained, evenly moist, nutritious soil. Dead-head before they set seed to ensure another flowering season. Manure with mulch applied to the base of the plant in autumn. Decorative, ornamental plant, originating from the Balkans. Attractive to butterflies, perfect for cutting. Not to be confused with the noxious weed Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)! If you plan to collect the seeds, you may consider wearing gloves, as they are equipped with barbs.

Dark Purple Love-in-a-mist (Nigella Papillosa ‘Midnight’): Self seeding, easy to grow. Sow the seeds flat and cover them with only a fine layer of soil (ca. 3 mm). Best is to sow in rows, directly in the place where you wish to grow them, leaving about 30 cm space between each row. The seeds will germinate in 2-3 weeks. Thin out seedlings, leaving about 25 cm between each. Sow in spring or autumn. If sown in autumn, it will act as a biennial and flower the next summer. Prefers a nutritious, well-drained, evenly moist, mildly calcareous soil and a spot in full or sheltered sun. Hardy annual, up to 90 cm tall, with decorative dark purple-blue flowers from June to August, and dark purple, spider-like seed pods. Both the cut flowers and dried seed pods are used in flower arrangements. To enjoy both, it is recommended to remove part of the fading flowers, but leaving some to develop into the decorative pods.

Black ‘Peony’ Poppy (Papaver somniferum var. paeoniflorum ‘Black Peony’): Self seeding, easy to grow. Sow in rows leaving about 15 cm space between each row. Will germinate within 2 weeks. Thin out, leaving about 20 cm between each seedling. The biggest mistake to make with poppies is to sow them too densely. The more space is left between seedlings the larger the flowers and pods will be. Can be sown in spring or autumn. The poppy seedlings are hardy. If sown in autumn they will flower the next year. Annual, hardy, up to 90 cm tall, with dark purple, nearly black filled flowers that start blooming in June and may continue flowering until August. Likes a wind-protected spot in full sun or sheltered sun and normal soil. The ideal soil would be loamy and sandy and a bit calcareous. If you sow different colors you will get hybrid seeds, as bees and other pollinators don’t stick to one color. If you prefer single-variety flowers, then remove flowers with other colors before they open. Will self-seed once the pods are ripe. Dead-head flowers and pods to prolong flowering and avoid self-seeding. Note: in Germany a license is required to grow Papaver somniferum, even if it’s just for ornamental purpose.

Black Rampion Flower (Phyteuma nigrum): Cold germinator, best sown in autumn from October to December! Sow the seeds flat and just press them on. The seeds germinate within 3-4 weeks. If not, give them an additional cold treatment for 2-4 weeks. Thin out to 25 cm between seedlings. Perennial, up to 70 cm tall, with a basal rosette of leaves, a turnip-like root and black-purple to deep-blue flower spikes from May to July. Prefers a humic, lime-deficient, acidophilous, loamy soil and a spot in sheltered sun or half shade. In the wild it frequents deciduous forests and alpine meadows. A member in the bellflower family, native to middle Europe. Known since antiquity, in the past black rampion has been used as a food vegetable. A rare and beautiful addition to a wildlife garden. In Germany it is also known by the name “Schwarze Rapunzel” and “Schwarze Teufelskralle” (not to be confused with the African devil’s claw root). More info here:

Black Pasque Flower (Pulsatella pratensis ssp. nigricans): Rare, protected wildlife flower. Cold germinator. Sow the seeds flat and gently press them on. Sow in late summer, from August to September. Or pre-culture from January to March. The seeds require changing temperatures in a warm-cold-warm succession: 2-4 weeks at 18-20°C, 4-6 weeks between -4 and +4°C and finally 5-12°C. Place the sowing containers outdoors and allow the seeds to germinate under natural conditions, ideally keeping them covered by winter snow and exposing them to spring snow melt. Or simulate this process in your fridge. Plant outdoors from May until October, 25 cm apart. Prefers a spot in sheltered sun or half shade. Prefers a well-drained, sandy, mildly calcareous soil. Hardy perennial, about 20 cm tall, with dark purple bell-shaped flowers, from April to June. Pasque flower has been used in folk medicine. It is said to act diaphoretic, diuretic, anodyne and anticonvulsant. The roots have been used as a nerve tonic. A tea from the root and an unguent from the leaves supposedly help ease symptoms connected to rheumatic diseases. Note: all parts of the plant contain toxins. The toxins dissipate when cooked.

Western Coneflower (Rudbeckia occidentalis ‘Green Wizzard’): Preculture indoors during spring or sow outdoors in early autumn. Sow flat and cover with just a thin layer of soil or vermiculite. Use moist and well-drained seeding compost and keep evenly moist but not sopping. Germinates within 2-3 weeks. Plant outdoors after the last frost, leaving about 60 cm between single plants. Divide plants in spring every 2-3 years. Prefers a spot in full or sheltered sun and evenly moist, well-drained soil. Mulch if the ground is prone to drying out quickly. Hardy perennial in the asters family, up to 1,80 m tall, flowering from July to September. Perfect for high borders and as a background planting. The peculiar flowers consist of a large, central, dark brown, dome-shaped boss, which is surrounded by stiff green, petal-like phyllaries, from which the ‘Green Wizzard’ variety receives its name. Cut flowers last long!

Sweet Scabious ‘Black Knight’ (Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Black Knight’): Pre-culture in spring, under temperatures between 15-18°C. Sow about 3 mm deep, cover with a fine layer of soil. Germination takes 2-3 weeks. Plant outdoors after the last frost. Or sow in autumn and overwinter in a cold frame and plant outdoors the following spring. Plant 20 cm apart, water regularly. Prefers a wind-protected spot in full sun and evenly moist, well-drained, mildly calcareous soil. Annual, up to 1 m tall, with long tender stems, flowering from July to October. This variant has black-red flowers, some of which are plain and others with contrasting white stigmas. The sweetly fragrant flowers are loved by bees and butterflies and last long in cut flower arrangements.

Heartsease ‘Black Bowles’ (Viola tricolor ‘Black Bowles’): Self seeding, easy to grow. Sow flat and cover with only a fine layer of soil. Germination takes about 3-4 weeks. Sow in spring or autumn. Annual to biennial, hardy, 20 -40 cm tall, with purple-black flowers, that have a little yellow eye in their center. If sown in autumn, it will act as a biennial and flower the following year. Likes a well-drained, sandy, mildly acidic soil. Flowers almost through the entire year and easily sows out self. Ideal for dynamic planting. The ‘Bowles Black’ variant has a compact growth.

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