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Garden Lifestyle

Growing Your Own Zombies

As you are preparing to 'trick or treat', here's the 411 on how to grow zombies for your next Halloween party.

  • Photo/Illustration: Greg Holdsworth (All photos)
  • Yours truly, and the first zombie I've successfully grown, circa 2011. This is the "Blood Hybrid" variety. 
  • Volunteer or "maverick" zombies have grown out of my compost pile more than once.
  • Give your young zombie parts lots of room. These "Royale Burgundy" zombies will grow fast once established.
  • Here I'm attempting to grow a zombie next to my raspberry plants. I hope they can handle the thorns.

Common Name:

Other Names:
The Undead, Walking Dead, Living Dead, Walkers, Brain Biters

Hardiness Zones:

Mature Size:
Size will vary with variety. Zombies generally get about 6′ tall and 2′ wide. “Healthy” zombies can reach 7′ if grown in areas with no or very mild winters.

Days to Harvest:
90-130 days


From Wikipedia, “Zombies are fictional undead creatures regularly encountered in horror and fantasy themed works. They are typically depicted as mindless, reanimated corpses with a hunger for human flesh, and particularly for human brains in some depictions.”

Fictional? Hogwash! I’m growing several in my garden right now. In fact, not only have I grown them in my garden, but “volunteer” zombies have grown out of my compost piles in the past. They do seem to have a mind of their own (bad pun intended), and you never know how, or where they will pop up once they get established.

Soil Preparation

Zombies grow best in well-drained, fertile, and crumbly soil. Most varieties can tolerate clay or sandy soil. When preparing new planting areas, try to clear out as many rocks, sod, and other debris beforehand.


You will generally get a better yield if you plant your zombies in partial to full shade. Because of their nocturnal nature, they prefer shade. It is during the overnight hours that most of their growth takes place.

Seeds or Transplants

Zombies don’t really produce “seeds”, so starter plants, um… I mean, parts… are the only real way to go. Just about any part of the undead can be planted, but hands and feet are the most common. Unlike potatoes, where pieces of the potato are cut up and then planted, zombie body parts can be planted whole. 


Zombie parts are generally direct sown in the garden in the spring after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed. If planted at the right time, they will be full size by Halloween. Fall planting is not recommended, primarily because they tend to hunt for brains more aggressively if they mature in warm soil. 

Plant the parts about 3-6″ deep, depending on which part you have. You will want to leave part of it exposed to air and sunlight so that it can “breath”. Space parts about 2 1/2 to 3 feet apart. They will not need any support (i.e. stakes, cages or trellis).


Zombies prefer a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0. As long as they are fed an occasional brain or bloody snack, zombies don’t require any fertilizer.


Provide zombies with about 1 inch of water per week. Most varieties are fairly drought tolerant. Try to water early in the morning to allow parts to dry quickly and reduce the opportunity for accelerated infection. Drip irrigation is recommended to help keep the flesh dry.

Weed Control

Because zombies can have rotting body parts, do not dig too deep when using a hoe or trowel, when weeding. Again, to avoid increasing rot, do not weed when the flesh is wet. As with other plants, applying mulch will prevent many weeds as well as help retain soil moisture. Organic mulches such as straw, untreated lawn clippings, or shredded bark are recommended. Apply the mulch 3 to 6 inches deep after the soil has warmed. Black plastic is not recommended, as new finger growths may not be able to penetrate it.

Pests & Insects

Zombies are generally free from most pests. The only insects that tend to hang around are those that feed on decomposing organic matter.


Diseases may be a problem during cool, wet weather. A variety of viruses can attack zombies, causing strange coloration in the flesh. Neem oil, sulfur, and other fungicides can be used. Most, however, don’t do any real damage internally.


Zombies actually “harvest themselves”! Yep, that’s right. You will know when they’re ready, because they won’t be in the ground any more. They will be aimlessly walking around your yard, looking for flesh and brains. 

Suggested Varieties:

‘Kentucky Flesh’ – An old, variety with dark flesh.
‘Blood Hybrid’ – My personal favorite; early producing and very drought tolerant.
‘Green Walker’ – Produces very tall zombies with greenish flesh.
‘Royale Burgundy’ – A popular variety with purple flesh when mature.
‘Gray Giant’ – German heirloom that has appeared in many movies and television shows.
‘Triumph de Zombie’ – A readily available French variety. Be advised, however, that this variety is extremely aggressive.
‘Flesh 206’ – Classic variety that can be grown almost anywhere.

NOTE: This post is not factual, and is meant for entertainment purposes only. Happy Halloween everyone!


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