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Burgundy in the Landscape: The Best Things With Purple Leaves

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 1

If you want your landscape to really pop out, include some plants that are the color burgundy or purple.  These plants will make the otherwise common green plants next to them much more beautiful.  Here are the best purple plants you can find.


Ajuga is a great burgundy plant for the front of the garden.  Ajuga will grow to fill in an area quite rapidly once established, growing in a low mat.  At about 6-12 inches high, Ajuga will be perfect in front of other plantings that are taller in the back of your flower beds. 

Another great thing about Ajuga is that it grows in shade.  In fact, it prefers shade.  This makes it a welcome colorful addition to the shady area under a big old tree or near the house where other sun loving plants won't flourish.  It is also evergreen, so you won't have to wait for late Spring to see the pretty leaves on Ajuga.

Ajuga grows in USDA hardiness zones 3-9.


Heuchera, commonly called Coral Bells, are another very popular burgundy plant.  Like the Ajuga, these will grow in quite a bit of shade, making them widely adaptable to areas of your landscape where you may not have enough color.

Heuchera are small perennials that have rather thick colorful leaves that will show their faces first thing in the Spring.  They are essentially evergreen (or purple in this case) but in harsh climates the leaves will look weathered for a few weeks in Spring until the new growth comes out.  Not to worry, though, they perk up very quickly.

Heuchera is an excellent choice for mass planting at the font of the bed.  They will send all sorts of blooms out in late Spring or early Summer, although the blooms are small and dainty.  The blooms are not the star here however - it's the foliage.  Heuchera comes in all kinds of colors, but the most popular is Palace Purple with its classic burgundy color. 

Heuchera grows in USDA hardiness zones 4-8.

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Barberry is a shrub that comes as either as a standard sized shrub that can get 4-5 feet tall or as a dwarf shrub that stays only a couple of feet tall.  A trio of barberry bushes in your landscape might just steal the show.

The Crimson Pigmy barberry is one of the best, remaining neat and compact.  The burgundy barberry will keep its rich purple color all season long, making it an outstanding companion plant for other plants with light green, yellow, or icy blue foliage.  Crimson Pigmy barberry next to any type of Blue Spruce is amazing.

Barberry shrubs come in several colors from bright yellow to deep purple, and they all look great, but the burgundy colors that they offer cannot be beat in the landscape and should be on your list of plants to add to your landscape.

Barberry shrubs grow in USDA hardiness zones 4-8.

Purple Fountain Grass

Ornamental grasses are a fantastic addition to any

Purple Fountain Grass
landscape, but Purple Fountain is even better, offering nice purple color as well as the unique texture that only ornamental grasses can offer.

Purple Fountain Grass grows in neat clumps and sway in the breeze, offering a soothing look and feel to your yard.  In Summer it is covered with the long, fuzzy blooms that make it look like water pouring from a fountain.

Purple Fountain Grass can get quite tall at 4-5 feet (with the blooms) but it is worth it if you have the space.  For those in the northern climates, Purple Fountain Grass can be grown as an annual purchased from a nursery or started from seed indoors in late Winter.  It will do fine in your landscape or in a pot on the patio.

Purple Fountain Grass is be a perennial in USDA hardiness zones 8-11.

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Prairifire Crab

Prairifire Crab
Let's get some height in our burgundy landscape now with the Prairifire Crab.  This awesome small crabapple tree is disease resistant, making it a durable choice.  The leaves will show signs of burgundy all season long, especially deep in Spring and Fall.

The fact that this tree gives us color in the landscape all season is great, but it is almost unbelievable in the Spring when the bloom season is here.  Prairifire Crab will be literally covered with blooms, so much so that you will hardly be able to see the branches.  Another bonus is the red fruit that this tree will hold throughout the winter months.

Prairifire is a good choice where a full size crabapple would be too big.  It will slowly grow to 20 feet high and wide but that's going to take some time, so don't be afraid to plant perennials under it for a showy garden bed.

Prairifire crab grows in USDA hardiness zone 4-8.

Companion Plants

The best thing about burgundy or purple plants in your landscape is what you can put next to them to set them off.  Don't just plant a burgundy plant all alone.  While it will look good, you're missing a great opportunity to do something really special in your yard.

Try planting companion plants nearby that have unusually bright colors.  The old standard green leaves will be fine, but if you want your garden to really pop you need something just a little different.

Favorites to really show off your burgundy plants include such things as:

  • Globe Blue Spruce
  • Goldmound Spiraea
  • Blue Fescue
  • Colorado Blue Spruce
  • yellow Sedum
  • yellow Barberry
  • white Birch
  • Lime Ricky Heuchera

Basically, anything that is yellow, light green, white, or icy blue will do the trick. 

You should follow the landscaping rule of planting in odd numbers to make companion plants work well.  That means never plant 2 of something unless you are going formal.  It is alway better to plant 1, 3, 5, or a mass.  For example, 1 globe blue spruce set off by 3 crimson pygmy barberry bushes will be a sight to see.  A single spruce next to a single barberry just won't work.

Now that you have some new ideas about how to add burgundy or purple plants to your landscape, give it a try.  You will find many other options available, but I believe these five are among the very best.



Jun 24, 2011 9:17am
Very informative with great tips on adding purple to a landscape. I've been thinking of adding more color to the front of my home. I have red brick with green now, I think adding some dwarf barberry will make it pop...Thanks.
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