How to Grow Ugliest Plants in Your Garden

How to Grow Ugliest Plants in Your Garden

Growing plants that most consider ugly can be an enjoyable way to express your individuality as a gardener. While beauty is subjective, there are certain plants that are widely regarded as unattractive. Embracing these plants and purposefully cultivating them in your garden space allows you to put your personal stamp on your outdoor environment.

Common Ugly Garden Plants

Here are some examples of plants that are often deemed unsightly:

Corpse Flower

The corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) is known for its terrible odor, reminiscent of rotting flesh. This large plant originating in Sumatra produces an intermittent bloom that gives off its signature stench. The smell attracts insects that pollinate the plant. While intriguing, its nasty odor means the corpse flower is not prized for its beauty or fragrance.

Dragon Arum Lily

Related to the corpse flower, the dragon arum lily (Dracunculus vulgaris) features a distinctive dark purple spathe and spadix that resemble a dragon’s tongue. Its bloom also gives off an unpleasant rotten stench. A native of the Mediterranean region, this bizarre plant has an otherworldly look that may be perceived as creepy.

Dead Horse Arum

The aptly named dead horse arum (Helicodiceros muscivorus) is another carrion plant known for its foul odor of decaying flesh. This unusual plant from the Mediterranean area unfurls a tall, phallic-looking dark red and purple inflorescence that exudes its signature stench. The stench attracts pollinating insects.


Stapelia is a genus of succulent plants, primarily native to South Africa. Most species have unusual star-shaped flowers that give off an odor of rotting meat to attract pollinators. The odd textured blooms come in tones of purple, cream, maroon, and yellow. Their bizarre alien-like look makes them an oddball addition to gardens.

Venus Flytrap

The carnivorous Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) seems more creepy than beautiful to many observers. Its modified leaves can snap shut to trap insects attracted by its nectar. Watching the predatory plant in action can be fascinating, but its insect-eating abilities may be viewed as macabre.

How to Cultivate Ugly Plants

If you want to intentionally grow unattractive plants, here are some tips:

Select an Appropriate Location

Find a spot in your yard where the plant’s unsavory qualities like stench or carnivorous habits won’t be an issue. For example, situate smelly corpse flowers away from doors, windows, patios, or walkways. Give Venus flytraps their own containers on a sunny patio or deck.

Check Growing Requirements

Research your ugly plant’s ideal conditions like sunlight, soil, moisture, and temperature range. Mimic its native environment as closely as possible. This gives the unattractive plant the best chance of thriving.

Plant in a Container

Growing an ugly plant in a pot allows you to easily relocate or remove it if needed. Place the containerized plant in an eye-catching spot where its unappealing features really stand out.

Add Accent Features

Highlight the plant’s oddball characteristics by incorporating accent pieces. Place insect-themed garden ornaments near your Venus flytrap. Use dark colored planters and perky colored gravel as mulch around corpse flowers.

Leverage its Uniqueness

Don’t hide your uncomely plant – flaunt it! Call attention to its weirdness by giving it a descriptive name. Add signage explaining the plant’s odd behaviors and origins. Turn it into a true conversation piece.

Embracing plants widely regarded as unattractive allows you to express your individual point of view as a gardener. Follow proper growing guidelines and then proudly showcase your unique ugly plant. Let its eccentric qualities spark interesting garden conversations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about cultivating unattractive plants:

Where can I buy seeds or live plants for ugly plants?

You can often find seeds and live plants for uncommon ugly species through specialty nurseries, online retailers, flower shows, and plant swaps focused on exotic species. Corpse flowers, dragon arum lilies, dead horse arums, and stapelia are available from companies focused on unusual plants.

Do I need any special skills or equipment to grow ugly plants?

No special skills are required, but research your specific plant’s needs for proper care. Carnivorous plants like Venus flytraps may require you to provide live insects or other feeding. Smelly corpse flowers need very large containers to accommodate their huge bulbs and root systems.

How often do ugly plants bloom?

Bloom frequency varies based on the plant. Corpse flowers may only bloom every few years. Dragon arums and dead horse arums bloom annually. Stapelia species bloom repeatedly in summer and fall. Venus flytraps continuously produce flowers when conditions are right. Give your ugly plant the environment it prefers to encourage the most blooms possible.

Can I grow ugly plants indoors?

Some ugly plants like Venus flytraps and stapelia are suitable for indoor cultivation. Others like corpse flowers, dragon arums, and dead horse arums reach such gigantic proportions they are only practical outdoors. Research your specific ugly plant’s size at maturity to determine if it will work as a houseplant. Indoor spaces allow close observation of a quirky plant.

Are these plants dangerous or toxic?

Aside from carnivorous plants trapping insects, these species are generally not hazardous. However, some contain skin irritants or toxic compounds if ingested, so wear gloves when handling and keep them away from pets and children. As with any unusual plant, educate yourself on any safety concerns.

Growing fascinating but not necessarily visually appealing plants allows you to exercise creativity and individuality as a gardener. Embrace plants that are distinctly ugly to craft a landscape that showcases your own vision of beauty. Highlight their bizarre traits through container choices, placement, signage, and more. Soon your uncomely plants will become conversation pieces that express your green thumb personality.