Personally, I am a huge fan of plants with dark or purple foliage. In a kingdom where most species are, by nature, various shades of green, these plants with dark, rich leaves – ranging from burgundy to black – are striking standouts and make excellent additions to any home garden. What’s great about these plants (like the Cotinus coggygria above) is that, because it’s their foliage that is so richly hued and not their flowers, you can enjoy their moody colors all year ’round. Read on for more purple leaved plants perfect for the Southern California garden.
1. Albizia julibrissin ‘Summer Chocolate’ This beautiful tree has delicate, feather-like leaves and equally dainty, pastel-pink puffball blooms that stand out against its warm chocolate foliage. The freeform tree grows to 15′ or 20′ tall, is tolerant of moderate to low water and full sun.
2. Euphorbia ‘Black Bird’ This compact euphorbia has leaves that range from a deep turquoise to violet to bright burgundy, with contrasting bright chartreuse, alien-looking blooms. It’s small habit and ultra-drought resistance makes it an excellent and low-maintenance addition to any garden.
3. Phormium ‘Black Adder’ Phormiums are wonderful plants – in the grass family – that come in all sorts of colors, including rainbows of pink and orange. But varieties like ‘Black Adder’ and ‘Black Rage’ add a dark explosion of texture to gardens ranging in style from modern to tropical to desert.
4. Aeonium ‘Zwartkopf’ Aeoniums rose to enormous popularity in the last few years, and this variety, with its glossy, dark leaves and contrasting green eye raised on bare stalks lead the pack. It’s strange form and succulent habit means it is ultra easy to care for and lends an out-of-this-world look to any landscape.
5. Agonis flexuosa ‘After Dark’ Our friends at Mooch Exterior Designs love this wonderful and versatile plant. It grows as a multi-trunk, loosely columnar shrub with an open habit and lanceolate, dark purple leaves. It makes an excellent screening shrub, or can be trimmed into a standard form to make an excellent specimen tree. Drought- and sun-tolerant.
6. Loropetalum ‘Purple Pixie’ These plants require just a little bit of maintenance in our sunny climate, but are well worth the trouble. Many varieties have dark foliage that emerges in various shades of fuchsia pink to dark green, and are available in forms from groundcover to trailing to upright shrubs. Give protected sun and a little extra water, and these plants will reward you with interesting flowers with bright fuchsia tendrils.
7. Ophiopogon ‘Nigra’ The popular groundcover “mondo grass” comes in this seductive, almost black variety that requires almost no maintenance and makes an excellent lawn alternative. Juxtaposed with a bright chartreuse plant like the sedum pictured here, it makes a striking statement.
8. Canna ‘Tropicanna Black’ This gorgeous plant grows to around 4′ tall and will spread via rhizomes over time. The broad, leathery leaves are a dusty dark purple and produce radiant red flowers. An excellent addition to the tropical garden, give full sun and rich, moist soil for best results.
See something you like? Ready to bring a little Gothic to your garden? Go ahead and visit us to check out our fabulous stock, or give us a call to special order whatever your heart desires! Our dedicated team of horticulturalists are ready to help.