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Add the Royal Hue of Purple to Your Garden
Purple flowers, like blue blossoms, have a soothing emotional effect when used in the landscape. Bearing a color that has long been a symbol of royalty, purple flowers also suggest richness and elegance.
Available in many shade variations, including violet and magenta, purple flowers are available in hundreds of varieties, from spring bulbs to fall-blooming wildflowers, from meek groundcovers to bold climbers. Here are 14 great options for including purple hues in your garden.
02 of 15
May Night Salvia
A former Perennial Plant of the Year award winner (1997), May Night salvia produces small, bluish-purple blooms on flower spikes about 2 feet tall. The sword-shaped leaves are more robust than those on 'Blue Hill' salvia.
May Night salvia is known for a long blooming period (May through June), making it a valuable landscape plant. It is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8.
Like other salvias, this one is a great choice for perennial borders, cottage gardens, butterfly gardens or wild gardens.
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Salvia 'Caradonna' is similar to 'May Night,' but is a deeper shade of purple and with a more slender flower stalk that highlights the flowers. It grows 1 to 2 feet high and like other salvias, it has a very long bloom period—in this case, June to September.
'Caradonna' is suitable for growing in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8, and is best suited for full sun locations. It does well in dry conditions, but it flowers best if it gets regular moisture.
04 of 15
Lamium maculatum is perhaps best known as a ground cover plant with silvery foliage, but the cultivar 'Purple Dragon adds light purple flowers.
Lamium maculatum (also known as deadnettle) grows no more than about 9 inches in height and is appropriate for USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8. It is generally grown for its foliage, but there are a number of cultivars that offer attractive flowers, as well. In addition to 'Purple Dragon,' there are white cultivars and red/purple cultivars, such as 'Red Nancy.'
This is a good plant for dry shade, but it can be somewhat invasive. Although a good ground cover, it does not tolerate foot traffic.Continue to 5 of 15 below.
05 of 15
Alliums are a nice addition to the landscape, not only for their color but also for the globular shape. Among the best cultivars and varieties with purple color are Allium 'Purple Sensation,' A. 'Globemaster,' "A. Millenium,' A. 'Ambassador,' and Allium aflatunense.
Purple alliums are bulb plants. Like other spring-flowering bulbs, purple alliums need to be planted in the fall. The specific planting date in fall is determined by where you live. Plant in September if you live in zone 2 or 3. Plant in December if you live at the other end of the scale (warmer climate), in zone 8. For those in between, plant in October or November.
Heights range from 2 to 5 feet, depending on variety, and alliums typically flower in late spring to early summer. Alliums are available for all plant hardiness zones.
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Petunias are normally planted as annuals, so you can grow them in every plant hardiness zone. They are perennial in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11. Petunias are commonly used in hanging baskets, window boxes and as bedding plants. They bloom from early May right up until frost.
There are dozens of petunia cultivars with purple flowers, and more are introduced each season. Purple petunias say "royalty," not only with their color (purple is the color of royalty) but also with the fine, velvety texture of their petals.
07 of 15
The flowers that go by the common name of columbine include several Aquilegia species, including many cultivars of Aquiliegia vulgaris that have violet or purple flowers. New cultivars are introduced regularly, but some with notable purple or lavender flowers include Aquilegia vulgaris ''Double Clementine Purple' with large double blossoms, Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Winky Purple-White,’ with white and purple blossoms, and Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Clementine Dark Purple,’ with fluffy double-pedal flowers.
As a group, the columbines have delicate flowers that appear in April and May. Aquilegia vulgaris and its cultivars are suitable for growing in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8, in sunny to partial shade locations. Mature plants are normally 12 to 36 inches tall. They work well in cottage gardens and rock gardens.
08 of 15
Annual Purple Larkspur
The terms larkspur and delphinium are sometimes used interchangeably, but each is actually a different genus within the Ranunculaceae family of plants.
True larkspur s are annual flowers (Consolida ajacis is the most common species grown in gardens) that are different from perennial delphinium (Delphinium spp.). The two types share a similarity in appearance, thanks to their shared family heritage.
Unlike delphiniums, which are temperamental, hard-to-grow perennial plants, annual larkspurs are quite easy-to-grow, tough, hardy flowers. They grow to about 3 feet in height and do best in ordinary moist garden soil. Although they are annual plants, larkspur may self-seed freely, producing plants year after year.
Be aware that larkspurs are poisonous, so be careful planting them where pets and children will be present. Larkspur grows quickly from seed, blooming in spring and summer.Continue to 9 of 15 below.
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Lobelia is an annual flower that blooms from summer through the first frost. There are numerous varieties of lobelia plants, but the cultivars providing blue/purple flowers are usually Lobelia eranus. They begin blooming in mid-summer and continue to the first frost.
Lobelia flowers tend toward the blue side rather than true purple; some common varieties include Lobelia erinus ‘Bella Aqua’, Lobelia erinus ‘Bella Aqua,' and Lobelia erinus ‘Hot Water Blue,' all growing 10 to 12 inches tall.
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The classic deep purple perennial clematis is 'Jackmanii,' a flowering vine that grows well in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8, producing large 7-inch wide, deep purple flowers in mid summer.
There are dozens of other clematis that produce purple/lavender blooms, including:
- Clematis ‘Warszawska Nike,’ is a 10-foot vine that flowers with deep purple in late spring to early summer, then again in fall.
- Clematis ‘Etoile Violette,’ grows to 12 feet and produces dark purple, velvety flowers throughout the summer.
- Clematis ‘Kingfisher,’ produces lavender flowers in May and June, then again in September.
- Clematis ‘Picardy,’ has smaller, but more profuse flowers than most other varieties.
Most clematis are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8. A trick to success with clematis vines is growing the plants in sunlight but keeping the roots cool. This may be achieved by mulching the root areas or planting low plants over the root zone to provide ground shade.
Be careful when pruning clematis vines. Some types flower on the previous season's wood, others on new growth. Make sure you know what type of clematis vines you have before pruning them. The nursery where you bought your clematis vines should be able to identify them and indicate pruning dates.
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Heliotrope is a long-standing favorite in cottage gardens, a shrub-like plant that grows 1 to 4 feet high. It is perennial in warm climates (zones 9 to 11) but is normally grown as an annual in cooler climates. These long-flowering plants begin blooming in summer and continue through the first frost, with very fragrant blossoms.
Many purple/lavender varieties are available, including:
- Heliotrope arborescens 'Fragrant Delight,' grows to 3 feet high
- Heliotrope arborescens 'Marine,' has large dark purple flowers up to 6 inches in diameter
These plants are poisonous, so keep them away from children and pets.
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Mix crocuses of lighter colors with your deeper purple crocuses for knockout spring plantings. Harbingers of spring, purple crocuses, and other bulb plants are welcome visitors to our March and April yards in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8.
Crocuses are small plants, reaching just 3 to 6 inches tall, depending on the type. Looking like blades of grass, the foliage is marked down the middle with a light stripe. Besides the classic purple flowers, there are crocuses with yellow, gold, white, and lavender blooms available.
An endearing trait of crocus flowers is the way they pucker up at night, or when the day is cloudy and/or cold.Continue to 13 of 15 below.
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The verbena genus of plants includes a large number of both annual and perennial species, many of which produce purple flowers. Some types are perennial in warmer climates but are planted as annuals elsewhere. There are verbenas that are only 3 inches high, and others that grow to 6 feet.
- Verbena hastata, also known as blue vervain, is a tall, airy plant with bluish-purple flowers. It's a perennial in zones 3 to 8.
- Glandularia canadensis 'Greystone Daphne,' has fragrant-lilac colors flowers on trailing stems.
- Verbena canadensis 'Homestead Purple,' has a purple-colored ground cover that is a perennial in zones 6 and warmer.
- Verbena x Hybrida 'Lanai Royal Purple with Eye,' has an annual form with bright purple flowers with a contrasting white eye.
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Delphiniums are among the tallest of perennials, growing as high as 8 feet, and are often featured in cottage gardens. They are relatively short-lived perennials, rarely surviving more than 3 to 4 years. The blooms appear in clusters along the stalk in June to July, sometimes reblooming in fall. Many varieties produce flowers in shades of blue or purple, although there are also white and pink blossoms available.
Delphiniums are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 7. The types most commonly grown in gardens are from hybrid series, such as the Pacific and English/Elatum series.
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Purple ice plant (Delosperma cooperi) is a native of South Africa and demands a soil that drains sharply. This perennial plant is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9. Many Northern gardeners who end up losing it think that the loss was due to the cold of winter when, in fact, it was poor drainage that did the plant in. The "ice" in this perennial's name comes from the sparkle on its leaves, which is the results of sunlight reflecting off tiny hairs covering the leaf surface.
This is a ground cover plant that grows only about 6 inches tall and is best suited for dry locations. It blooms through most of the summer and fall.