Purple Perennial Geraniums

With Patriot Hosta

Purple Geraniums and Hosta
Credit: Courtesy Rachel Ford James at Flickr Creative Commons

Choosing Perennial Plants

Choose the Right Plant for the Right Place

Three quarters of successful perennial flower gardening is choosing the right plant for the right place.

Perennial plants fit into a handful of categories along the dimensions of sun/shade, wet/dry, and rich/sandy soil conditions. Purple perennial flowers can be found to fit all these conditions. So before you do anything, take a good look at where you plan to place your new perennial plant, and then look for a purple flowered variety to fit those conditions.

If you aren't sure what your soil conditions are, 'fertile loam' or rich soil is dark, moist, and crumbly. It clumps together slightly when you make a fist but isn't soaking wet. Sandy soil is light brown and very dry. It won't hold water for long, and is often found in hot, sunny locations.

Purple Coneflowers

Purple Coneflowers
Credit: Photo Courtesy Chesbayprogram at Flickr Creative Commons

Purple Perennial Flowers for Dry Sunny Conditions

Look to the Prairie and the Desert

If you've ever been to a prairie you know that it changes by the week, and between May and August flowers bloom and bloom, one after another.

Some plants that thrive in dry, sunny conditions and are not too picky about soil conditions once estabished include Purple Coneflowers, Sweet Peas, Jacobs Ladder, Pernnial Lavender, Bee Balm (Monarda), Lupines, Mallows, Hollyhocks, Salvia, and Veronica.

Even aggressive purple perennial flowers need a little boost the first year while they are establishing themselves. After planting, water with high phosphorus root stimulator. Steer clear of high nitrogen fertilizers that will boost leaf growth but not flower production, and will stress the plants.

Make sure plants get enough water the first year, especially during hot, dry spells, and remove spent blossoms if you are so inclined to encourage longer flowering.

Gorgeous Purple Iris

For Shade or Partial Sun

Purple Iris(92792)
Credit: Courtesy bonstance at Flickr Creative Commons

Purple Perennial Flowers for Moist Shady Conditions

Gorgeous Purple Shade Flowers

Most purple perennial flowers marked 'shade' will also grow in partial shade, so long as the sunny period is in the morning, not the heat of the afternoon, and so long as the soil is moist, not dry.

Purple perennial flowers that like moist, shady conditions include violas, violets, iris, brunnera, astilble (will also grow in dry partial shade once established), hosta, lobelia, liriope, lunaria, geranium (the perennial variety, not the red annuals, which are not true geraniums), dianthus, caryopteris, campanula, and aquilegia.

In addition to purple flowers for shade, many perennials feature purple leaves or stems that add color even when they are not flowering. Purple coral bells (heuchera) are one good example.

If you have dry shade, you have a unique problem. Although a few aggressive perennial plants and groundcovers do grow in dry shade (lily of the valley, English ivy, Japanese pachysandra), most of these perennials are considered invasive. If you plant them in dry shade they are likely to 'jump ship' and show up in flower beds where they are not wanted, and will soon take them over.

A better choice for dry shade for people who love purple are large planters filled with purple annuals like petunias, annual salvia, sweet alyssum, and annual carnations.

One last caution about perennial flowers:

Perennial flowers are not pieces of furniture. Sometimes you plant a flower in a specific spot and the following year it shows up in five other spots too. Sometimes you plant a flower in what looks like the perfect conditions, and it just won't grow. And sometimes, a plant that doesn't seem to belong goes crazy where it shouldn't.

So stay flexible, try new varieties, and be prepared for surprises.

The surprises are just part of the joy of perennial gardening.

Purple Prairie Sage

Growing Wild in Colorado

Purple Prairie Sage
Credit: Photo Courtesy Frederick Stendenback at Flickr Creative Commons