When choosing ornamental plants, gardeners aren't limited to those that produce classically pretty blooms. Ornamental plants are those that are grown for their appearance, and joy can be derived from the wonderfully weird as well as the traditionally beautiful. It may be surprising to see how much more lively a garden can become with a few strange looking ornamental plants.
Cow's Udder (Solanum Mammosum) is a shrubby perennial that produces extremely bizarre looking yellow fruits that resemble cow udders. Also called Titty Fruit and Apple of Sodom, Cow's Udder is an instant conversation starter that can be grown both indoors and outdoors. The plant blooms in late summer or early fall, producing magenta flowers. Outdoor plants require full sunlight, and although the plant can grow in most soil types, soil with a neutral pH is optimal. Unfortunately, the fruits that make the plant such an unusual ornamental are also poisonous.
Voodoo Lily (Dracunculus vulgaris), frequently called Stink Lily or Dragonwort, is a distinct looking plant that produces an even more distinct smell. Voodoo Lilies have deep burgundy spathes that are accentuated by a long, almost black spadix. The overall impression is beautifully ominous. Despite the plant's exotic and tropical appearance, Voodoo Lilies will grow well in temperate climates. The plant grows in full sun or partial shade, and well drained soil is crucial to having a healthy plant. Gardeners should avoid planting the Voodoo Lily too close to entrances, as the plant's odor can be strong and unpleasant.
The Cobra Lily (Darlingtonia californica), also called the California Cobra or the California Pitcher Plant, is a carnivorous plant native to California and Oregon. The pale green or green and red plant resembles a rearing cobra, complete with a petal that resembles a snake tongue. Cobra Lilies attract insect prey with an attractive nectar, later digesting the insect with enzymes in the plant's "pitcher." These exotic looking plants are difficult to cultivate, requiring cool distilled water or rainwater and very well drained soil. Cobra Lilies tolerate varying amounts of sunlight, depending on the humidity, but generally prefer indirect light.