Choose Macabre Plants, Animals

Gothic Decor Helps to Set Theme

Red Rose(50284)Credit: Rosangela Otoni RoseIf your favorite time of the year is Halloween, you might want to consider planting a Gothic garden or a Halloween garden. The plants in these gardens are all usually tied to a macabre theme. These themes include plants that are poisonous, plants that were once identified as the ingredients in witchcraft spells or plants that are just creepy. For added fun, you can accessorize your garden and attract the types of animals that might be found in a haunted house. The best time to plan a garden for Halloween is in spring, when most of the plants that you will use are available in plant nurseries.


Some of the best plants for a Gothic garden are night-blooming or night-fragrant plants. These plants are at their best during the evening hours. Choose variegated plants with white stripes and plants with white blossoms. These white and light-colored plants are more visible in the lower light conditions of evening. Night-blooming plants with white blossoms such as moonflower will seem to glow by the light of a full moon. 

Other good plants for a Gothic garden include blooming plants such as evening primrose, sweet-scented nicotiana, “Midnight Candy” night phlox, four o’clocks, vesper iris and “August Lily” hosta.  

During the daytime, flowers such as roses are a very popular among people with a Gothic ethos. Red roses are the most popular, followed by flowers in darker shades that approach black. Although there is no true black rose, the darkest red hues such as “Black Ice,” “Black Beauty,” and “Black Magic” are red roses that seem to have black edges.  Hollyhocks are also popular plants for their nearly black foliage.

Plants that emit sweet perfume at night include night gladiolus, tuberose, perfumed fairy lily and sweet rocket.

During Medieval times, village wise women, herbalists and healers were often accused of witchcraft based solely on the types of plants that they grew in their gardens.  A woman who grew monkshood might be accused of using it in an ointment that they used to fly. By growing the same herbs in your garden as these herbalists grew, you can lend a Gothic feel to your garden. Some good plants to include are foxglove, belladonna, hemlock, monkshood, wolf’s bane, mandrake, yarrow and verbena.  

Hardy plants are best for a Halloween garden, since most of the United States has experienced killing frosts by this point. White pansies with black faces are good plants for chillier fall weather. If planted in a protected spot, these pansies may overwinter and last until spring.


A Gothic garden should also include plenty of plants that attract macabre creatures such as bats, snakes, toads and spiders. Other creatures that will fit right in among your Gothic plants include dragonflies, ladybugs and praying mantis.

You can attract bats to your garden by including plants that attract the insects that bats feed on. These plants include purple coneflower, phlox and salvia. Purchase and install a bat roost to encourage the bats to linger. Hang your bat roost in early April, when bats might be nesting nearby. Once bats nest in a particular place, they will return to that location yearly.

You can purchase bugs such as praying mantis and ladybugs as eggs from plant nurseries and natural insect pest control companies, since these creatures feed on other insects.

Toads are attracted to gardens where they can find water to lay eggs in and a shelter such as a toad house. They like to feed on wormwood, which is a popular plant among Goths and is one of the main ingredients in absinthe.


Halloween is a good time to find décor for a Gothic garden, since so many stores sell seasonal decorations including skeleton or spider-themed items during this time. Year-round accessories that can lend a Gothic feel to a garden include wrought iron borders, stone gargoyles, gazing globes, moon dials statues of saints, the Green Man or copies of the Bird Girl statue made popular by the book and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  These items become more visible in the garden around Halloween and into winter as your plants die back.