Plants with colorful foliage have always been popular, but with gardeners’ newfound interest in color, these plants are in extremely high demand. The great thing about plants with attractive, colorful foliage is that they have appeal regardless of whether 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.
Purple is considered a royal color that's strongly associated with passion.
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, such as:
- 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 in home gardens, 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.
Selected Perennial Plants With Purple or Red Foliage
- 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 beautiful!
- Euphorbia dulcis 'Chameleon' - Burgundy - Zone 4 to 9, 15" tall, rounded plant with pale yellow flowers in summer.
- Heuchera americana (cultivars) Bronze to purple - also known as '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.
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' - A bold new purple leafed 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 leafed Weigela that forms a neat 10 to 12" mound. Great in the perennial garden, or even as a sunny groundcover.
- Weigela florida WINE & ROSES 'Alexandra' - Burgandy purple - Zone 4 to 8, 4-5' tall, vibrant pink flowers in late spring, leaf color intensifies in late summer.