Plant Purple for Pop!
Plant Purple for Pop - HIDE

By Tammy Palmier

When you don't know what to plant in your landscape, plant purple plants because purple plants combine with everything and make other plants pop. This advice was given by perennial expert and former Kemper garden supervisor, June Hutson and inspired this guide. Here are just a few great purple plants that can grow in your St. Louis garden:
Disclaimer: Purple to one person might be blue or pink to another. Let's just agree that these plants are in the purple range for the list’s sake.
Grown as an Annual
Cordyline fruticosa
Common Name: cabbage tree

Height: 9.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: White to pale lavender
Sun: Part shade to full shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: Young plants feature a fountain of grass-like leaves with no trunk and are often sold in this form as houseplants or used in containers in the St. Louis area.
Cuphea hyssopifolia
Common Name: false heather

Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers freely
Bloom Description: Lavender
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: This Plant of Merit tolerates St. Louis’ high heat and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds with its trumpet-shaped, petite flowers.
Ipomoea batatas ‘Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Purple’ or other purple cultivars
Common Name: sweet potato

Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: Rarely flowers
Bloom Description: Pale pink to violet (cultivars mostly non-flowering)
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics:
This easy to grow purple foliage plant is great for containers or as a ground cover.
Monarda citriodora
Common Name: lemon mint

Height: 1.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to August
Bloom Description: Lavender to pink to white
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: This Missouri native attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, particularly when massed. The leaves have a distinctive lemony, aroma when rubbed.
Lablab purpureus
Common Name: hyacinth bean

Height: 10.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to frost
Bloom Description: Rose-purple, white, pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: The foliage, stems, pods, and flowers are purple. This annual grows well on trellises or mail boxes and attracts hummingbirds.
Strobilanthes dyerianus
Common Name: Persian shield

Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Violet
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: This tropical, striking foliage plant is grown as an annual, bedding plant in the St. Louis area. It can be used in rain gardens and grows well in consistently moist soils.
Salvia farinacea 'Victoria Blue'
Common Name: mealycup sage

Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to frost
Bloom Description: Deep blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: It flowers from May until frost and attracts butterflies. This annual stays compact under two feet in height and is a perfect border plant.
Perennials
Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’
Common Name: giant hyssop

Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Lavender blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: It’s a bee magnet and other pollinators like it too. For gardeners, it has a pleasant fragrance like anise and mint.
Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’
Common Name: false indigo

Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Smoky violet
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: Baptisias are drought tolerant once established from its long tap root and dry native range. The smokey violet color is enchanting and gives way to dark bean like pods.
Callirhoe involucrata
Common Name: purple poppy mallow

Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Magenta
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: This Missouri native makes a nice ground cover in both formal and naturalized gardens.
Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’
Common Name: blazing star

Height: 1.50 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Deep purple
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: This perennial comes true from seed but is slow to establish and flower. Attractive to butterflies and birds, this Missouri nativar can also be used for cut flowers or rain gardens.
Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’
Common Name: catmint

Height: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 2.50 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to September
Bloom Description: Lavender blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: A great, flower – house addition to your garden as well as a pollinator plant.
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’
Common Name: New England aster

Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: Royal purple
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: These little beauties are butterfly and bird magnets. It stays bushy and requires no staking.
Bulbs
Allium 'Purple Sensation'
Common Name: ornamental onion

Height: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: This easy to grow bulb flowers is a jewel-like purple blooming May through June. It fills a early-summer gap when few other plants may be in flower. A good cut flower.
Crocus vernus 'Pickwick'
Common Name: Spring crocus

Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Silver-lilac with darker lilac stripes
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: This cute bulb tolerates black walnut and is an early bloomer that can naturalize in an area.
Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic'
Common Name: taro

Height: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Yellowish-white
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: This elephant ear is grown for large, dark purple foliage and can be planted along the margins of a pond. It grows best in part shade in the St. Louis area.
Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy’
Common Name: pineapple lily

Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Whitish purple
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: Beyond the gorgeous purplish foliage, the flower has a long 6-8 week bloom period and looks similar to a pineapple.
Iris reticulata
Common Name: reticulated iris

Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.25 to 0.25 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Bluish to dark purple with gold central stripe on the falls
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: This iris has a nice early bloom in the spring, It is very drought resistant and has fragrant flowers.
Shrubs
Callicarpa americana
Common Name: beautyberry

Height: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Lavender, pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: This Missouri native is a great fall specimen plant with its amazing purple berries. These fruits attract birds and can grow easily in clay soils perfect for St. Louis gardens. Interesting fact: The genus name comes from Greek meaning beautiful fruit.
Cotinus coggygria 'Velvet Cloak'
Common Name: smoketree

Height: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: This purple-leaved, upright multi-stemmed shrub is covered with fluffy, hazy, smoke-like puffs in summer. Pruning can control its size.
Sambucus nigra 'Eva' BLACK LACE
Common Name: black elder

Height: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: It is known for its deeply cut dark purple foliage, its lemon-scented, pink flowers and its dark blackish-red elderberries.
Magnolia 'Ann'
Common Name: magnolia

Height: 8.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Purple-red
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: This magnolia blooms later than others so it can miss the late-spring frosts and has amazing color.
Syringa meyeri
Common Name: Meyer lilac

Height: 5.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Pale lilac to violet purple
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: Meyer lilacs are generally more attractive than many other species of lilacs due to its structure, floriferous bloom and mildew-resistant foliage.
Lagerstroemia 'Yuma'
Common Name: crape myrtle

Height: 6.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Bicolored lavender
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: This hybrid is known to be more resistant to mildew and has lovely bi-colored lilac flowers.
Trees
Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Red Dragon'
Common Name: Japanese maple

Height: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Reddish-purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: Leaves emerge bright cherry red in spring, mature to burgundy red in summer before finally changing to crimson red in fall. Its leaves retain good color throughout the growing season.
Cercidiphyllum japonicum 'Rotfuchs' RED FOX
Common Name: katsura tree

Height: 40.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 25.00 to 50.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Red (male), green (female)
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: Leaves emerge reddish purple in spring, mature to medium green with a slight bluish tinged in summer and turn quality shades of gold, orange and red in fall.
Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'
Common Name: eastern redbud

Height: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 25.00 to 35.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Rosy pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: 'Forest Pansy' is a purple-leaved cultivar of the popular Missouri native redbud tree. Fall color is variable, but often includes attractive shades of reddish-purple and orange.
Fagus sylvatica (Atropurpurea Group)
Common Name: purple beech

Height: 50.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 30.00 to 45.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Green
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: This purple-leaved, European beech turns bronze in the fall and is smaller than American beech.
Robinia 'Purple Robe'
Common Name: black locust

Height: 30.00 to 40.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: Violet purple
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: This purple flowering black locust has bronze-red leaves when they emerge in the spring. It almost looks like a cherry tree when in full bloom.
Grown as a Vegetable
Beta vulgaris (Garden Beet Group) 'Bull's Blood'
Common Name: beet

Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Sun: Full sun to part shade

Other noteworthy characteristics: This cool season vegetable has striking purple foliage and lovely bulbous roots which are edible. 'Bulls Blood’ is an heirloom Garden Beet Group cultivar that was developed around 1840.
Brassica oleracea (Gongylodes Group)
Common Name: kohlrabi

Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: These heirlooms are under-utilized in most vegetable gardens. They are great eaten raw, sautéed or in slaw. A great conversation starter for your garden - is that a purple UFO?

'Purple of Sicily'


'Violet Queen'
Brassica oleracea 'Purple of Sicily'
Common Name: Cauliflower

Height: 1.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: This fun cauliflower has purple coloring and is great to grow in the fall. Another all purple cultivar is ‘Violet Queen.’

Capsicum annuum 'Purple Flash'
Common Name: ornamental pepper

Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: This ornamental pepper is most noted for its near black foliage accented with occasional flashes of bright purple or white and its tiny jet black fruit. It retains good color throughout the growing season. Flowers are followed by small, round, glossy, jet black fruit that are technically edible but extremely hot.
Capsicum annuum ‘Islander’
Common Name: sweet bell pepper

Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: This sweet pepper is mild and is great raw or sautéed with onions. The lilac color is a nice, raw addition to lettuce or pasta salads. This hybrid pepper is resistant to tobacco mosaic virus.
Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group) 'Redbor'
Common Name: kale

Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: Kale continues to gain popularity not only to eat but for its ornamental qualities. ‘Redbor’ can grow from spring through fall and sometimes throughout a mild winter. It makes a nice compliment to other green kale varieties like ‘Winterbor’ and ‘Dinosaur.’
Phaseolus vulgaris  'Grandma Roberts’
Common Name: bean

Height: 2.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Sun: Full sun

Other noteworthy characteristics: These pole beans are great to grow vertically on a fence or teepee. Beware they are magic beans and will turn green when you boil them. Another purple podded, bush variety to try is ‘Royal Burgundy.’