How to Create a Haunting Halloween Potted Garden

As with any holiday or decorating occasion, Halloween presents us with many intriguing options for dressing up our homes and yards. Every fall ghosts can be seen floating beneath tree branches, along with bats flittering to and fro under porch roofs. Ghostly skeleton hands may rise from the sod in neighborhood yards, as stuffed crows look on, perched atop Halloween gravestones. The outside of a home is prime territory for Halloween decorating. You can use “traditional” decorating tactics such as those outlined above if you like. But did you know that you can also make use of plants and interesting odds and ends to create a potted Halloween garden that is attractive and artful, but still creepy enough to be just right for this spooky season.Halloween

Here are some ideas:

Gather up a group of black, grey or rusty-brown pots in varying heights and widths. Plain pots with no decoration will work well, but you can also use very ornate looking containers–perhaps those that look like old urns. These will become the foundation for a potted Halloween garden that can be placed on your porch, or in the back yard if you’re planning an outdoor Halloween party.

Group the pots so that they are in a casual arrangement, with taller to the back or a side, and shorter pots where they can be viewed easily. Play with the position of the pots. A straight line may not work as well as more informal design. You may want multiple groups of pots, or to feature one large pot by itself, balanced with a few smaller pots placed in a group elsewhere.

Chose plants that bear foliage that is dark purple, blood red, bronze, or silvery-white. These might include Silver Mound artemisia, Japanese blood grass, Hillside Black Beauty snakeroot; Blackout, Plum Pudding, Palace Purple or Obsidian coral bells, Britt-Maire Crawford ragwort, Blackie sweet potato vine, and Purple Emperor sedum. You can generally find plants such as these at your nursery and all would look wonderful in a perennial garden, or in displays of summer annuals, depending on the plant. But for our purposes, you’ll be planting them in pots for maximum Halloween effect.

Arrange your plants in the pots. You can use one type of plant to a pot; or combine several different plants in a large planter, with taller, more upright ones toward the back or middle, and short or trailing plants at the edges. For contrast, transplant some of the marigolds that you’ve been growing in your summer garden to a few spots in your potted garden. Marigolds are usually one of the last annual flowers to give up the ghost in fall, so you may still have plenty in bloom. These flowers are typically used in the traditional Mexican Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) celebrations that fall between October 31 and November 2, so they are also appropriate for use here.

For added Halloween inspiration, gather up several long branches and remove the leaves. Paint them black and “plant” them in the pots for vertical effect. Chose a few sturdy branches to perch black crows on, or perhaps to hang a few dangling “bones” from (you can find fake bones both large and small at your Halloween or dollar store). Small tea light lanterns would create a magical effect when hanging from these branches, but be very careful with open flames.

To complete the look of your potted Halloween garden, nestle a gravestone between the pots. Spread some Spanish moss around the base of the pots and the headstone. Or position a posable skeleton so that it is peering from between some of the planters, pointing a bony finger at onlookers. Use your imagination.

The combination of plants with dark or ghostly gray foliage, and contrasting orange and yellow flowers, is perfect for creating a magical and macabre backdrop for other Halloween decorations and for all of your Halloween festivities.