One way to add zip and zest to a landscape is to use plants with purple leaves. Over the years, many cultivars of trees and shrubs have been developed to fill this need. Use the following plants with purple leaves to make your garden irresistible.
Botanical name: Berberis thunbergii
Barberries are shrubs that can add a pop to your garden. Pair it with lime green plants for an especially eye-catching display. These do have thorns, so be careful when planting in a yard where children will play.
Barberry varieties with purple leaves include:
- 'Helmond Pillar'
- 'Royal Burgundy'
- 'Royal Cloak'
2. Copper Beech
Botanical name: Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea', 'Atropurpurea' or 'Atropunicea'
Copper beech trees features purple leaves and produces beechnuts, which are edible for wildlife and humans. The Kew Garden also notes that young leaves are edible.
There is also a purple weeping beech - Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea Pendula'
Botanical name: Malus spp.
Crabapple trees will add color to the garden in all seasons with the flowers, fruits and leaves. Some have fruit that is edible for humans as well as wildlife.
For crabapples with purple leaves, some choices are:
- 'Purple Prince'
- 'Red Barron'
Botanical name: Sambucus nigra
- Growing profile for the elderberry
The fruits of elderberry shrubs can be eaten in foods like jams, jellies, syrups, pies, wine and brandy. They must be fully ripe before ingestion as they are poisonous before that point. Cordials and syrups are made from the flowers.
Elderberries with purple leaves are:
- 'Black Beauty'
- 'Black Lace'
Botanical name: Acer palmatum
- Growing profile for the Japanese maple
The Japanese maple is a shrub or small tree that features distinctive leaves in shape and color.
Some Japanese maple varieties that sport purple leaves:
- 'Burgundy Lace'
- 'Ever Red'
- 'Sherwood Flame'
Botanical name: Prunus cerasifera
- Growing profile for the Purple leaf plum
For a tree that features purple leaves and small edible fruits, plant the purple leaf plum. These trees stay small, so they can fit in most yards. It lives around 20 years usually, so it is short-lived.
- 'Mt. St. Helens
Botanical name: Prunus X cistena
- Growing profile for the purple leaf sand cherry
The purple leaf sand cherry is a shrub or short tree that also features small purple fruits suitable for wildlife.
8. Purple Ninebark
Botanical name: Physocarpus opulifolius
- Growing profile for the Ninebark
Ninebark is a shrub that features white or pink flowers. It can live as low as Zone 2, so it's a great choice for a landscape accent in cold regions.
Some purple ninebark cultivars:
- 'Center Glow'
- Coppertina ('Mindia')
- Diablo or Diabolo ('Monlo')
- Summer Wine ('Seward')
Botanical name: Cotinus coggygria
- Growing profile for the Purple smoke bush
Smoke bush shrubs get their name because of the balls of unfertilized flowers. While there are green varieties available, many people choose the purple leaf varieties for use as a specimen in the yard.
Smoke bushes with purple leaves:
- 'Nordine Red'
- 'Notcutt's Variety'
- 'Royal Purple'
- 'Velvet Cloak'