The ebony eranthemum shrub, also known as black magic (Eranthemum nigrum), has maroon-black leaves that contrast wonderfully with myriad garden companions clad in green leaves. Its cousin, Eranthemum pulchellum, or blue sage, is seen in local gardens from time to time.
Ebony eranthemum flowers in the warm months, producing narrow spikes of white flowers with traces of hot pink hear the throats. It grows to three or four feet and will do well in sun or shade.
From the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, the plant is versatile enough to adapt to differing conditions. In more northern gardens, this is an annual. In our climate it will grow year-round.
In sun, the plant will be more compact and have a brighter color, says Jason Lopez of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. In shade, it is leggy, has a deeper color and is more prone to snail attacks, Lopez cautions.
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When the plant needs water, its leaves droop. Provide irrigation twice weekly (if drought restrictions allow) and it should be fine. Use a slow-release fertilizer applied two or three times a year, or compost and aged cow manure refreshed in spring and late summer.