Whenever I’m planning a garden, no matter what mood I’m trying to create, I always include some plants with purple blooms.Purple seems to symbolize so many things that I find it the most versatile color of all. Let’s say I’m shooting for sophistication: Rich, dark plum and mulberry shades give me that feeling of refinement and luxury. Maybe I’m in the mood to plant a romantic garden: Light lavenders and mauves lend a flirty air. And when it comes to pure fun, any jaunty mix in the lilac-violet-amethyst family adds instant whimsy. Are you starting to feel inspired? Let’s get some purple on with this month’s Top 10.
- Ball Horticultural Co.
Verbena, zones 9 to 11, annual elsewhere
You can expect summer-long color from these beautiful blooms. These full-sun plants sport attractive clusters of flowers and grow to about 18 inches high. Keep the soil moist but well drained; dry conditions can hinder flowering.
Top picks: Both V. bonariensis and the Imagination cultivar blossom in joyous shades that run between magenta and violet.
Lavandula, Zones 5 to 10
Lavender’s not just beautiful; its powerful scent does wonders to alleviate stress. The silvery-gray plant grows from 1 to 4 feet tall in full sun and boasts graceful spires of tiny flowers.
Top picks: For particularly showy purple blooms, choose Hidcote Superior, Sarah or Munstead.
Clematis spp., Zones 3 to 9
You say “CLEM-uh-tiss,” I say “cluh-MAT-iss”: However you pronounce it, this is one dazzling plant. Some grow up to 30 feet tall, it provides more flowers in less space than almost anything you’ll find. Plant in a sunny, sheltered spot and watch it thrive.
Top picks: The classic Jackmanii springs to mind instantly, but Arabella is all that plus multitones of blue and mauve.
Campanula spp., Zones 3 to 9
In addition to perennials, the bellflower family includes annuals and biennials, all with graceful blossoms lasting from late spring into summer. Although it also enjoys full sun, planting in partial shade preserves its delicate colors. Keep bellflowers happy by watering regularly.
Top picks: Try Birch Hybrid or Bavarian Blue for charming storybook shades.
Iris reticulata, Zones 4 to 9
This fragrant, petite early bloomer grows from just 2 to 12 inches high. The vibrant flowers, which do best in full sun, emerge in late winter to early spring.
Top picks: The dark, rich petals of J.S. Dijit unfurl to offer spring a royal welcome.
Balloon flowerPlatycodon, Zones 3 to 9
Before opening into five-pointed blooms, the hollow buds look like tiny balloons. Balloon flower does best in full sun or partial shade and thrives in moist, well-draining soil.
Top picks: Astra blue and Fuji blue varieties display charming pale blue-violet blooms.
Nepeta, Zones 3 to 8
Easy to grow, catmint provides silvery-green or gray foliage and a long season of blooms. The flower spikes reach about 2 feet tall and enjoy full sun. Many hybrid catmints are sterile, so they don’t seed. Divide plants in spring or take cuttings in summer.
Top picks: For fun, the classic cultivar Nepeta x faassenii can’t be beat. For an alpine ambience, give N. sibirica a shot.
- Proven Winners
Salvia spp., Zones 4 to 9, Annual Elsewhere
Count on this attention getter for color all season in any landscape. Its 8- to 30-inch-tall plumes teem with tubular flowers. Though it’s generally partial to full sun, this resilient plant will thrive in partial shade during hot summers.
Top picks: The Evolution and May Night cultivars offer intense, dramatic purple hues.
Allium spp., Zones 3 to 9
If you want to add brightness and bounce, there’s no better bloomer than allium. This pretty perennial is a winning selection for most backyards. Not only can you find an allium to suit almost any spot, it’s easy to grow, and you can find different types that will bloom from late spring to fall.
Top picks: Try A. aflatunense for a sassy taste of purplish pink or Globemaster if you prefer a saucy hint of bluish purple.
- Chris Burrows/Gapphotos.com
Pulsatilla, Zones 4 to 8
An early-spring bloomer, pasque flower adds texture to any garden. While it’s not a go-to perennial for most gardeners, this sun-loving, drought-tolerant, fuss-free flower certainly deserves top honors on our list.
Top picks: P. vulgaris offers an enchanting mauve, while the silvery overtones of P. halleri add an icy, textured charm.
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