The Headbanger’s Ball Goes Green With These Heavy Metal Houseplants
These are the sweet leaves that will have you flashing horns
I was one helluva teenager; an exquisite, angry little ember moshing around obstinately in combat boots and torn fishnets, Revlon Blackberry lipstick on my riot-grrrling sneer. I broke stuff, I fought the power; I was a cherry bomb, and grunge, prog rock, and metal were the soundtrack to my petulance.
That’s not to say I didn’t have a tender side; I started growing my first houseplants when I was a teenager, too. But the Christmas cactus and beefsteak begonia that my grandma gave me weren’t exactly disquieting. Aside from one dalliance with growing cannabis, the houseplants of my younger days, though lovely, were ill-matched to my charmingly oppositional personality.
Fast-forward 25 years, and not only do I have a much more personalized collection of houseplants, but I’ve developed a skill with using them to subtly convey what remains of my dark side. These days, as a responsible mom-car driving adult and all-around upstanding member of the community, I may not thrash like I used to, but I still feel the urge to bang my head…proverbially. Now I can express the rage of my youth through my houseplants, kind of like the Victorians used flowers to send a message. Whether you prefer black metal, death metal, grunge, or thrash (or are just in it for the black leather and spikes), I’ll show you how to let your hardcore side shine with these plants that are totally metal.
Traditional Metal (Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Dio)
Pitcher Plant ‘Prince of Darkness’
The only thing more suited to a Sabbath fan than a houseplant that drowns its living prey in digestive enzymes is one named for Lucifer himself. That’s why the ‘Prince of Darkness’ pitcher plant (Sarracenia lucard ‘Prince of Darkness’) is a must-have in any metalhead’s houseplant collection. North American pitcher plants are easy to grow, as long as they’re kept constantly moist and given at least a few hours of bright light.
Planting Notes: Full sun, constant moisture. Best grown in a lean 50/50 mix of peat moss and washed sand. Needs a 3-4 month winter dormancy period.
Where to Source: Carnivorous Plant Resource
Purple Velvet Plant
Gaze into the Deep Purple of a passion velvet plant (Gynura aurantiaca), another interesting and easy houseplant. Soft purple hairs cover the leaves and stems like fine velvet, contrasted with funky-smelling orange blossoms. She’s not a killing machine like the pitcher plant, but you’ll love her, you’ll need her, and (as long as she blooms) you’ll seed her.
Planting Notes: Bright indirect light keeps them purple. Allow the top ¼ of the soil to dry between waterings, and feed weekly with diluted fertilizer during the active growing period.
Where to Source: Indoor Bonsai and Exotics
Queen of the Night
If you’re looking for a fast-growing cactus that shines in the dark like witches at black masses, grow queen of the night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum). This gangly epiphyte is easy to train onto a moist, mossy pole. The queen’s blooms appear on only one summer night, typically between sundown and the witching hour. Her blossoms fade before dawn, leaving only her fragrant ghost behind as evidence of her passing.
Planting Notes: Medium light, warmth and high humidity (mist daily).
Where to Source: Suc it Up Buttercup
Thrash Metal (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, etc.)
Cylindrical Snake Plant
Cylindrical snake plant (Sansevieria cylindrica) exemplifies the kind of metal you feared as a child, with its serpentine spikes writhing directly from fiendish soil like a bed of nails, or spreading like fingers reaching out of a grave. Like other snake plants, it’s actually pretty easy to grow, if given a sunny window and the occasional scowl.
Planting Notes: Bright to moderate light, allow soil to fully dry between waterings, and feed every three weeks during summer.
Where to Source: IKEA
Red Tree Peperomia
Red tree peperomia (Peperomia metallica) is a somber plant with blood-red stems and blackish leaves bearing a jagged silver slash down the midrib. Its inflorescence looks like white worms. And nothing else matters.
Planting Notes: Likes a bit of shade, allow to dry between waterings.
Where to Source: Steve’s Leaves
Black-spined aloe (Aloe melanacantha) is covered in formidable spikes, and the leaves take on an angry red hue in droughty conditions. These brooding, slow-growing tanks do require caution when handling, but because they thrive on neglect, they’re a good choice for beginners. (They also look great with spiked wristbands.)
Planting Notes: Full sun to partial shade, drought tolerant but will be plumper and greener if watered every couple weeks.
Where to Source: Succulent Gardens
Black Metal (Venom, Celtic Frost, Mayhem, etc.)
Darth Vader Begonia
The Darth Vader begonia (yes, seriously—a.k.a. Begonia darthvaderiana) has waxy leaves as dark as your soul. It’s notoriously difficult to grow, but ‘Black Mamba,’ ‘Black Taffeta,’ and ‘Black Fang’ are easier dark begonias that will still have you scrying into a nightmarish void. Try Begonia xanthina var. ‘Lazuli’ for its crepe-y, black leaves.
Planting Notes: Bright, indirect light and room-temperature humidity yield best results for most rhizomatous species.
Where to Source: Mountain Orchids
‘Black Prince’ Coleus
This terrifying ‘Black Prince’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Black Prince’) looks like a lich and although it’s an easy-to-grow heavy metal houseplant, it will almost certainly eat your soul while you sleep.
Planting Notes: Grow in bright, filtered light with moist, rich soil.
Where to Source: Etsy
Black Bat Plant
Black bat plant (Tacca chantrieri) looks like a winged demon spewing strings of bile from its face, which is to say this plant is stunning. With blackish purple flowers 12” across, it’s easily the most emo member its large family (the Dioscoreaceae, which includes yams), even if it’s a bit on-the-nose as a heavy metal houseplant.
Planting Notes: Needs bright light and humidity to bloom, so keep it on a tray of pebbles or use a humidifier.
Where to Source: Rare Plants
Hair Metal (Cheap Trick, Warrant, Van Halen, etc.)
Eyelash Begonia, Peacock Plant, and Lipstick Plant
Hey, I’m not here to judge whether or not hair rock plants are truly heavy metal houseplants, but they definitely shred the gnar. Pictured above in this order, lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus radicans), peacock plant (Calathea makoyana), and eyelash begonia (Begonia bowerae ‘Tiger Paws’) all have similar growth requirements, so collect them all for a Damn Yankees-style supergroup. Spandex and leopard print pots are optional.
Planting Notes: Medium to low light, allow to dry out between waterings.
Death Metal (Carcass, Cannibal Corpse, etc.)
Carrion Flower and Voodoo Lily
Plants that smell like dead bodies are supreme examples of heavy metal houseplants. Carrion flower (Orbea variegata) is a spiny, vicious-looking plant with a flower that looks like a rotting starfish and which emits the stench of death. Voodoo lily (Typhonium venosum), one of the “stinky aroids,” also delightfully reeks of cadavers but looks even more like a heavy metal houseplant. If you like Gwar (and have a greenhouse and can wait twenty years), try your hand at growing corpse flower, because its fetid odor is pretty on-brand.
Planting Notes: Bright afternoon sun, allow to dry between waterings.
Where Source: Annie’s Annuals
Fanged Pitcher Plant
Fanged pitcher plant (Nepenthes bicalcarata) not only eats insects, but it looks like it’d take a bite out of you, too. The pitchers grow from the tip of the leaves, transforming ominously from a tendril into a fluid-filled death trap. This species prefers a tropical swelter that’s difficult to reproduce in a home, but several species native to higher elevations are easier to grow indoors and are just as terrifying. And as far as I’m concerned, pretty much any other carnivorous plant qualifies as a heavy metal houseplant.
Planting Notes: Bright light, permanently wet soil.
Where to Source: Sarracenia Northwest
Sometimes heavy metal houseplants are teeny and adorable, and that doesn’t mean they don’t still totally kill it in the face. Diminutive yet fierce succulents like chain plant (Callisia navicularis), baby toes (Fenestraria rhopalophylla), or heart-shaped living pebbles (Conophytum bilobum), pictured above in that order, are ideal plants if you prefer terror in a cute dress. 🤘🤘🤘
Planting Notes: bright light, allow to dry fully between waterings.
Where to Source: USKC Succulents
Curate the Aesthetic: Other Metal Style for the Home
Courtesy of Right Tribe
If you’re not quite ready to go full-on Headbanger’s Ball but still want to incorporate a little metal edge to your indoor garden, one place to start is with the containers in which your plants are potted. Black or metallic ceramics look striking even with more traditional décor, and topping the soil with black sand or pebbles does double duty of looking gnarly while helping soil retain moisture. Black leather plant hangers (like these ones from Right^Tribe) are sleek and functional, while bringing just a wink of Judas Priest to your home. Stylish human skull planters can add a bit of wickedness to your windowsill. And of course, you can always try tearing the (purple) curtain.