1. Home

Discuss in my forum

The Color Purple

Purple Foliage Plants for the Garden and Landscape


Ninebark (Physocarpus) 'Summer Wine'

Ninebark (Physocarpus) 'Summer Wine'

Photo courtesy of Proven Winners - www.provenwinners.com
Elderberry (Sambucus) 'Black Beauty'

Elderberry (Sambucus) 'Black Beauty'

Photo courtesy of Proven Winners - www.provenwinners.com
Corel Bells (Heuchera) 'Velvet Night'

Corel Bells (Heuchera) 'Velvet Night'

Photo courtesy of Proven Winners - www.provenwinners.com

Plants with colorful foliage have always been popular, but with the new found interest in COLOR, these plants are in extremely high demand. The great thing about plants with attractive, colorful foliage is that they look showy, and have appeal regardless if they are in bloom or not. This is all the more important for perennials and flowering shrubs that normally bloom for only four weeks or less.

The "COLOR PURPLE", and "CRIMSON TIDE" are more than titles of popular movies, they represent colors that are adored if not coveted. These colors represent passion and who's against passion?

There are actually "Purple Stores" that sell only purple items; jewelry, clothing, coffee mugs etc. but only purple! People love purple-red colors and their love extends to plants as well. One need only to drive through a local subdivision to see numerous examples, like:

  • Crimson King Maple (Acer platinoides 'Crimson King')
  • Crimson Pygmy Barberry (Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea 'Nana')
  • Purple Leaf Sand Cherry (Prunus x cistena)

One might argue that these plants are overused, but if you enjoy them, why not grow them? Try pairing purple foliage with lime green, like Marguerite sweet potato vine and watch the colors pop.

Tim’s Picks - Selected Perennials with Purple or Red Foliage

Check with Proven Winners and Spring Meadow Nursery for retailers in your area.


  • Aguja reptans (cultivars) BRONZE-BURGUNDY -'Atropurpurea', 'Bronze Beauty', and 'Gaiety'


  • Cimcifuga racemosa var. atropurpurea - DARK PURPLE - Zone 3 to 8, 4-5' tall, towering white flower spikes in late summer, an outstanding, but hard to find plant


  • Cimcifuga racemosa 'Brunette' - BRONZE- PURPLE - Zone 3 to 8, 3-4' tall, towering white flower spikes in late summer, also hard to find but choice!


  • Euphorbia dulcis 'Chameleon' - BURGUNDY - Zone 4 to 9, 15" tall, rounded plant with pale yellow flowers in summer. I love the look of this plant.


  • Heuchera americana (cultivars) BRONZE to PURPLE -'Bressingham Purple', 'Cascade Dawn', 'Persian Carpet', 'Chocolate Ruffles', 'Chocolate Veil', 'Palace Purple', 'Ruby Ruffles', 'Velvet Night'


  • Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' - MAROON PURPLE - Zone 4-9, 12-28", upright clumps with white (very pale pink) flowers in mid-summer.


  • Rheum palmatum 'Atrosanquineum' -(Ornamental Rhubarb) DARK PURPLE - Zone 4 to 7, 5-7' tall when in flower, truly remarkable plant.


  • Sedum X 'Mohrchen' - DARK PURPLE - Zone 3 to 9, 18 to 24", upright growth habit, foliage is very dark and turns a ruby red in autumn, pink flowers in late summer.


  • Sedum X 'Vera Jameson' - MAHOGANY-RED - Zone 3-9, 10-12", arching, weak stems, reddish-pink flowers in late summer.

Tim’s Picks - Selected Trees & Shrubs with Purple or Red Foliage

  • Acer platanoides 'Crimson Sentry' - MAROON PURPLE - Zone 3 to 7, 15-25', tight columnar form, great for tight spaces, next to buildings, dense foliage.


  • Acer palmatum (cultivars) - MAROON TO PURPLE - Zone 5(6) to 8, 6-25" depending upon variety and location, 'Atropurpureum' dark red leaves fade in summer, 'Bloodgood' one of the best for holding its color, 'Burgundy Lace' good color resists fading, fine lacy leaves, 'Garnet' similar to 'Burgundy Lace' but said to be hardier.


  • Corylus maxima 'Purpurea' (purple leaf filbert) - DARK PURPLE - Zone 4 to 8, 15-20" but often grown as a shrub, deep purple color fades to a green purple in late summer, earlier in the south.


  • Cotinus coggygria (cultivars) - MAROON PURPLE - Zone 4 to 8, 10-15', 'Royal Purple' Dark purple, does not fade, 'Velvet Cloak' dark purple, resists fading, spectacular red fall color, 'Foliis Purpureais' green leaves with purple new growth.


  • Fagus sylvatica (cultivars) - BRONZE TO DARK PURPLE - Zone 4 to 7, 50-60', 'Purpurea' copper purple, 'Riversii' dark purple wavy leaves, 'Dawyck Purple' columnar form with purple leaves, 'Purple Fountain' 12' tall slow growing, weeping habit, others.


  • Hypericum androsaemum 'Albury Purple' - VELVETY PURPLE - Zone 6 to 8, 18-24", attractive purple cast especially to new growth, small yellow flowers in early summer.


  • Sambucus Black Beauty 'Gerda' ppaf - A bold new purple leaved elder from England, Zone 4 to 8, 10-15'


  • Physocarpus ‘Summer Wine’ - a new compact ninebark that is the result of a cross between nana and Diabolo.


  • Weigela ‘Midnight Wine’ - a new dwarf purple leaved Weigela that forms a neat 10 to 12" mound. Great in the perennial garden, or even as a sunny ground cover.


  • Weigela florida WINE & ROSES 'Alexandra' - BURGUNDY PURPLE - Zone 4 to 8, 4-5' tall, vibrant pink flowers in late spring, leaf color intensifies in late summer
Related Video
Plants to Use in a No-Work Perennial Garden
Grow a Perennial Plant from Seed

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.