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 look attractive regardless of whether or not they're in bloom. This is all the more important for perennials and flowering shrubs that normally bloom for four weeks or less.
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Aguja reptans (cultivars)
This perennial also goes by the name Bronze-burgundy, 'Atropurpurea', 'Bronze Beauty', and 'Gaiety'. Aguja reptans is native to Europe but has become an invasive species in parts of North America. When gardening, it's a useful groundcover plant.
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Cimicifuga racemosa var. atropurpurea
This towing plant grows white flower spikes in the late summer. It's an outstanding but hard-to-find plant that has many medicinal qualities. It's native to North America and was widely used by the indigenous population. The flowers are dark purple, and it thrives in Zones 3-8. It grows up to five feet tall.
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Cimicifuga racemosa 'Brunette'
This breed is also hard to find but it's worth the search as it's quite beautiful. It belongs to the same genus as the atropurpurea. The flowers are bronze-purple, and it thrives in Zones 3-8. It grows up to four feet tall.
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Euphorbia dulcis 'Chameleon'
The Euphorbia belongs to the incredibly diverse spurge genus. The genus is named after the physician of the Greek King Juba. This plant thrives in Zones 4-9, and it reaches 15 inches tall.Continue to 5 of 18 below.
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Heuchera americana (cultivars)
Also known as 'Bressingham Purple', 'Cascade Dawn', 'Persian Carpet', 'Chocolate Ruffles', 'Chocolate Veil', 'Palace Purple', 'Ruby Ruffles', and 'Velvet Night'. The Heuchera Americana is known for its large sometimes marbled or veined leaves.
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Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red'
This eye-catching plant flowers in mid-summer. This native of Eastern North America needs moist soil and direct sunlight to flourish. This maroon purple flower thrives in Zones 4-9, and reaches up to 28 inches tall.
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Rheum palmatum and Atrosanquineum Ornamental Rhubarb
While many use the plant for medicinal purposes, ingesting too much of it can make you very ill. This plant is great if you have a large space to fill in your plot. This dark purple plant thrives in Zones 4-7, and can sometimes grow up to seven feet tall when in flower. It's truly a remarkable plant.
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Acer platanoides 'Crimson Sentry'
These maple trees are native to Europe and Asia. They're popular for their beautiful leaves and the delicious syrup they produce. This plant does well in Zones 3-7. They're great for tight spaces as they provide dense foliage.Continue to 9 of 18 below.
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Acer palmatum (cultivars)
Another member of the Maple family native to Japan. '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. You'll find these plants in Zones 5-8, and they can grow up to two feet tall depending upon variety and location.
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Corylus maxima 'Purpurea' (purple leaf filbert)
Often grown as a shrub, the purple leaf filbert plant's deep purple color fades to a green purple in late summer, earlier in the south. It's native to Europe and Southwest Asia. It's a relative of the hazel family as it produces edible nuts. It grows well in Zones 4-8, and can reach up to 20 inches tall.
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Cotinus coggygria (cultivars)
The wood of the Cotinus coggygria from Southern Europe and central Asia is often used in yellow dyes. 'Velvet Cloak' dark purple, resists fading and turns a spectacular red color in fall. 'Foliis Purpureais' sports green leaves with purple new growth. You'll find these plants in Zones 4-8, and they can grow up to 15 feet tall.
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Fagus sylvatica (cultivars)
The Fagus sylvatica is slow growing, weeping habit. This European Beech doesn't shed its leaves until spring. Beech forests tend to be dark because of dense leaf cover. 'Purpurea' is a copper purple, 'Riversii' features dark purple wavy leaves, 'Dawyck Purple' is a columnar shape with purple leaves, and 'Purple Fountain' reaches up to 12 feet tall. These plants are grown in Zone 4-7.Continue to 13 of 18 below.
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Hypericum androsaemum 'Albury Purple'
Albury Purple features an attractive purple cast especially in its new growth, as well as small yellow flowers in early summer. While the berries of this plant are poisonous, other parts of it can be used in herbal medicine. This plant is considered an invasive in parts of Australia and New Zealand. It does well in Zones 6-8, and can reach up to 24 inches tall.
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Sambucus Black Beauty 'Gerda'
Sambucus is a bold, new purple-leafed elder from England. These plants were once thought to be part of the honeysuckle family. Elderberries are commonly used to boost the immune system. They're grown in Zones 4-8, and can grow up to 15 feet tall.
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Weigela ‘Midnight Wine
This new dwarf purple-leafed Weigela forms a neat 12-inch mound. They are great in the perennial garden, or even as a sunny groundcover. The Weigela family is named after Christian Ehrenfried Weigel a German chemist.
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Crimson Pygmy Barberry (Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea 'Nana')
Crimson Pygmy or Japanese Barberry is an invasive species that has been banned in several states. The dense foliage is a great home to ticks. Some think the spread of Japanese Barberry has also helped the spread of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease.
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Purple Leaf Sand Cherry (Prunus x cistena)
The Purple Leaf Sand Cherry is a member of the Rose family. This shrub produces small cherries in the early summer. It's common in Eastern North America.
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. Try pairing purple foliage with lime green—like Marguerite sweet potato vine—and watch the colors pop.