Make the best of your purple perennial flowers in your garden; here are 25 to choose from, each with a few tips to grow them well.
There’s something special about purple flowers; maybe it is the vibrancy of this color that makes them stand out. Or maybe it is the elegance of purple on plants, including purple perennials, that makes them unique.
Then again, maybe it is the strong symbolism of flowers and purple put together that makes perennials with blooms of this color a favorite in gardens and pots all over the world.
Luckily, purple is a very common color in flowering perennials, and there are many natural species and cultivars of perennial plants with this beautiful color.
So, if you want to bring some purple into your garden or onto your terrace, here are 25 of the best purple perennials.
We will divide them by size, small, medium and big, so you can fit them better to your space. Most are easy to grow and all are beautiful, and for each, you will also get some practical tips
Purple Flowers And Symbolism
Why is purple such a loved color, especially with flowers? Well, it is the fusion or red, the most energetic color, and blue, the most peaceful one. But, as happens with colors, mixing two gives more than the sum of these two.
Purple conveys strong but at the same time peaceful emotions, and remember that a garden is an “emotionscape”, an expression of feelings, the sharing of an atmosphere, and, if you want, you can scatter some symbolism in it.
But what do purple flowers symbolize? Ok, each flower has its own symbolism, but the color purple, to quote Alice Walker’s wonderful novel, has its own meaning: it represents dignity, success and even pride (in the positive sense, if you want).
On the one hand, purple is regarded as luxurious, even royal, on the other, it is a spiritual color, related to the higher self, fulfillment, the Third Eye and alignment to the universe.
And purple flowering perennials can be used to bring that sense of “cosmic unity” to your garden.
They sound great, don’t they? We’ll soon meet all of them, one by one, but, before we dive into each perennial flowering plant, a few words on the color purple and how to use it in gardening.
25 Purple Perennial Flowers You Can Grow
So, which of the myriad purple perennial flowers made it to the cut? Here are 25 of the most beautiful purple perennial flowers.
- Dalmatian bellflower
- Lily turf
- Pincushion flower
- Aster ‘Wood’s Purple’
- Crocus ‘Spring Beauty’ and crocus ‘Flower Record’
- Hyacinth ‘Miss Saigon’
- Creeping thyme
- Bee balm ‘Balmy Purple’
- ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ beardtongue
- Ornamental onion ‘Ambassador’
- Bearded iris
- ‘Karma Choc’ dahlia
- False indigo
- ‘Manhattan’s Lights’ lupine
- Clustered bellflower ‘Superba’
- Candle larkspur
- Japanese wisteria
- Clematis ‘Etoille Violette’
- Passion flower ‘Victoria’
- Hydrangea ‘Merritt’s Supreme’
- Sweetshrub ‘Harlgate Wine’
Small Purple Flowering Perennials
As a gardener, I always like to start from below. True, actually you plant big trees first, but from a perspective point of view, starting from ground level gives you a different perspective: it reminds us that the soil is the link between us and the Earth; it reminds us that small things matter, it reminds us that we need to look after those weaker than ourselves.
So, let’s start with small perennials first.
1. Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)
Big flowers with large, bright purple petals and a yellow center can fill your garden too if you chose pasqueflower as a perennial to grow in flowerbeds, rock gardens, borders and even if you want a wild looking cottage garden.
Related to the more famous anemone, it comes from pine forests and meadows in England, where it grows on sunny slopes where the soil is rich in calcium.
A fairly rare purple perennial flower in the wild, there are now many varieties available for you to grow in your garden, including Pulsatilla vulgaris grand is, and Pulsatilla vulgaris rubra if you want to add some burgundy to your palette. With a showy flower that rises above a small bush of pinnate leaves, this perennial is both decorative, eye catching and architectural.
2. Dalmatian Bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana)
Bring a bit of Alpine feel to your garden with a mountain perennial with bell shaped flowers of a light bluish purple tint: Dalmatian bellflower.
This purple flowering plant will grow so many flowers that, with the right conditions, it will look like you have a purple carpet in your back garden.
Short, perfect as a trailing plant to cascade down old pots and drape over walls, but also in rock gardens, informal and cottage gardens and in patios or for containers on terraces, this short perennial will spread in width more than height, so, this evergreen is also perfect as ground cover.
3. Lily Turf (Liriope muscari)
Add the long, lavender – purple inflorescences to the long, elegant leaves of the lily turf and you will get a very decorative border in no time at all.
This small purple perennial, in fact, is a tuberous plant that will form dense clumps that resemble Armenian grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum), which you can find growing wild in woodland all over the Northern Hemisphere.
So, if you want to have that feel of “countryside wilderness”, or if you want an elegant border, this plant is a good choice.
It is also excellent in flower beds together with other plants and it is perfect to grow as an under plant for roses and other shrubs.
After it has blossomed, you will also get black berries of a very round shape, so, the decorative value of this plant will continue into late fall.
4. Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’)
Even if this perennial flower is called “blue” it is actually of a light, pastel purple color, close to lavender in fact. It has become very popular because it is easy to grow and it is very generous with its blooms.
In fact, you will see loads of multiple flowers with many small petals open on top of long stems, and the gray green foliage at the mound will set them off perfectly.
This purple flowering plant is perfect for the wild, prairie look you may want in your garden, whether you wish to convey it in borders, flower beds or around the paths of your little corner of green (and purple) paradise.
Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ will also look good in containers and rock gardens, though, as long as you wish to have that slightly wild look that many of us admire.
5. Aster ‘Wood’s Purple’ (Aster dumosus ‘Wood’s Purple)
The effect of aster in a garden is that of a galaxy of stars, thanks to the generosity with blooming of this stunning perennial.
In fact, there is something special with this flowering beauty of it has the Latin name for “star”… Now, imagine if these little stars were actually of a vibrant purple color? That’s what you get with aster ‘Wood’s Purple’!
This dwarf aster has glossy dark green leaves, which set off the multi petaled star like, bright purple flowers very well, and this makes it a perfect choice for borders, flower beds and any informal garden. I was forgetting… It will also attract lots of butterflies and birds!
6. Crocus ‘Spring Beauty’ (Crocus minimus ‘Spring Beauty’) and Crocus ‘Flower Record’ (Crocus vernus ‘Flower Record’)
Fancy a small perennial flower with amazing purple hues to tell you, year on year, that spring has finally come? Then I propose two classics: crocus ‘Spring Beauty’ and crocus ‘Flower Record’.
What is the difference? ‘Spring Beauty’ has thinner shaped flowers, with a boysenberry purple plume on the outside of the tepals which then turn light purple and white at the edges.
On the contrary ‘Flower Record’ is an amazing Dutch variety with comparatively large, cup shaped flowers of the deepest purple and clearly visible yellow stamens.
One will give you a more delicate look; the other is perfect if you want a striking effect. Both are just tiny beauties.
Easy to grow, they will also become naturalized in your garden, whether you have them in a lawn, flower bed or rock garden. But you can also grow them in containers if you wish.
7. Hyacinth ‘Miss Saigon’ (Hyacintus orientalis ‘Miss Saigon’)
Add the amazing sweet scent of hyacinth to its iconic, lush, generous inflorescence, and, if you want the deepest purple in its waxy flowers, then just choose the variety ‘Miss Saigon’ and you will have just that: the most beautiful purple spring flowers ever!
Hyacinths will look great even in a simple glass with some water, but they can turn any flower bed, pot, container, gravel garden or rockery into an amazing beauty.
Note that the bulbs are poisonous though, and you will have to take them out of the ground, dry them and store them somewhere cool and dry after it has blossomed. You will then re-plant them in the fall.
8. Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpillum)
Thyme is the first scent Odysseus smells when he wakes up on the Island of Scheria after his shipwreck, and maybe that’s why this perennial with purple flowers has come to represent the whole of the Mediterranean, where it grows spontaneous among rocks.
But if you want a creeping quality with an amazing bloom, then creeping thyme will cover all the ground with the most vibrant purple.
With small leaves and short stems, Thymus serpillum will become a purple blanket of tiny, dense and beautiful flowers in the summer, which, of course, makes it perfect for carpeting.
However, it will also look great in flower beds, among walking stones, to coast paths, in containers and, of course in rock gardens.
There is a range of varieties to choose from, like ‘Magic Carpet’, with a string, magenta purple shade, or ‘Elfin’, which is pinkish purple in color.
9. Bee Balm ‘Balmy Purple’ (Monarda ‘Balmy Purple’
This early flowering perennial will grow in beautiful green clumps with long purple seems topped by round, magenta purple inflorescences that look a bit like spherical flowers.
The extra advantage of this plant is that it will be in bloom for months on end.
You can bring purple flowers from late spring all through the summer to borders, flower beds, containers, pots and terrace with bee balm ‘Balmy Purple’, this lesser known, but always beautiful and generous flowering perennial.
Medium Purple Flowering Perennials
Let’s meet some medium sized purple flowering plants now; these will range from those that offer a bigger presence in flower beds and borders to bushes.
This level is where the eye rests more often, so, the choices you make with these plants will very often determine the main color and mood effect of your garden.
10. ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ Beardtongue (Penstemon x mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’)
With long, Sikh inflorescences that will last for a long time, ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ beardtongue is a hybrid perennial on the small size of medium.
With personage shaped (tubular with “big lips”) flowers of a light purple shade, rich purple stems that grow upright towards the Sun, the effect of this plant in borders and flower beds can’t be missed.
It is also a perfect plant if you fancy a romantic look in your garden or on your terrace,
It is a perfect plant for cottage gardens, borders and flower beds, but it will also look good in a meadow if you have one.
Wherever you plant it, though, it will attract lots of butterflies and other pollinators, including hummingbirds.
11. Cardoon (Cynara carbuncular)
Shall we change look? Do you fancy using purple flowers for a dramatic, thorny, wild and passionate corner of your garden? Then this thistle flower will add a dynamic but architectural touch to your composition.
The leaves are, as we know, jagged and rugged, of a silver color, and the flowers will appear on top of thick, artichoke like stems, and they will open to show bluish purple petals that pollinators will just love.
Having cardoon in your garden is like bringing a touch of northern drama to it, a bit like bringing Macbeth to the stage.
This is why this perennial is an outstanding presence in any wild garden, both in borders and in flower beds.
12. Cranesbill (Geranium spp.)
Cranesbill are hardy geraniums that you will find easy to grow and will give you long lasting blooms for months, and some varieties are actually purple.
For example the award winning ‘Ann Folkard’ has round, bright magenta purple flowers.
‘Anne Thomson’ on the other hand has deep purple flowers. Or you may choose ‘Patricia’ whose flowers are mauve.
But if you want a striking effect, I would suggest ‘Laurence Flatman’ which has white flowers with the most striking purple veins!
They can be used in flower beds or borders, rock gardens but also for ground cover. They would look great also in wild flower beds and cottage gardens.
13. Ornamental Onion ‘Ambassador’ (Allium ‘Ambassador’)
Actually, there are many ornamental onions with amazing spherical purple inflorescences.
One, though, Allium ‘Ambassador’ stands out, thanks to how thick the many flowers are, it’s deep, vibrant purple color and the sheer size of the “balls”, which can reach 8 inches in diameter (20 cm).
Very sculptural and long blooming, this bulbous plant has won the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.
It will make its presence felt in beds and borders in both formal and informal gardens, and it is a favorite for gravel gardens, where the long stem with the massive inflorescences on top and long decorative leaves look like natural statues rising from the pebbles (or rocks if you want to add an extra touch of drama).
14. Bearded Iris (Iris germanica)
Bearded iris is a classic perennial flowering plant with showy, brightly colored flowers that are often purple. There are varieties of other colors too however.
This plant is very strong and vigorous, which makes growing it much simpler and, in many ways even more pleasurable if you don’t have the green thumb.
There are many varieties and cultivars you can choose from. For example ‘About Town’, a favorite has the falls (the lower tepals) of a deep, lush and velvety purple, while the standards (the upright tepals) are of a light mauve shade; the signal (the bearded tongue with hair) is bright yellow.
‘Black Swan’, on the other hand, excels in intensity, with dark purple (black) falls and deep purple standards. ‘Dangerous Liaison’, finally, has very lush, dark and veined falls and bright lavender standards. But there are many others.
Iris germanica is an outstanding for borders, flower beds, informal gardens, including cottage gardens, and it looks great next to ponds.
15. ‘Karma Choc’ Dahlia (Dahlia ‘Karma Choc’)
If you are after the darkest, deepest, warmest shade of burgundy purple in any plant, then ‘Karma Choc’ dahlia is the plant you have been looking for.
This dahlia is the perfect harbinger of passionate summer feelings and of that autumnal melancholic warmth we have when we get back from vacation.
With big, round velvety flowers, this beautiful variety will bring a strong feeling of passion, warmth and luxuriousness to your borders and your flowerbeds, but you can also use it for cut flowers.
16. False Indigo (Baltista australis)
If you want a perennial that is easy to grow and will sort out lots of problems in your garden with its plentiful purple flowers scattered on long spikes, than false indigo is what you are looking for.
This plant looks a bit like Lupines, and they will look wonderful as a backdrop to other, bigger plants, but also good in wild meadows, cottage gardens and flower beds.
17. ‘Manhattan Lights’ Lupine (Lupinus ‘Manhattan lights’)
The long spikes of this lupine, with rich, deep and bright purple flowers set off by a yellow spot in the middle, will be a great presence in your garden if it needs vibrancy and energy.
With very long blooms, you can have this color together with the grace of this plant with very little effort indeed.
The beautiful palmate leaves will also have an architectural quality that outlasts the plant’s bloom.
Lupine ‘Manhattan Lights’ lend itself as a decorative plant, also attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to your cottage garden (it’s a must!), informal gardens, flower beds and borders.
18. Clustered Bellflower ‘Superba’ (Campanula glomerata ‘Superba’)
This award winning perennial with many showy bell shaped flowers with a white center cannot miss in any garden where you want violet purple to shine through. If you want the best effect, grow it in groups, even together with other plants.
It is easy to grow and it will attract lots of butterflies and bees, which will buzz around your borders, cottage garden or flower beds.
Alternatively, use it as ground cover for medium to large patches of land, and it won’t disappoint you. You can also use it as undergrowth for roses and bushes, and it makes an excellent cut flower as well!
19. Gayfeather (Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Violet’)
This flowering perennial is called “gayfeather” for a reason: it’s long, “fluffy” inflorescences look like magenta purple plumes, or feathers, rising high from the ground.
Each plant is a single stem, with small pointed leaves on the lower part, and a showy spike of bright flowers at the top.
Just imagine it growing in groups on the side of a garden path, at the back of a flower bed, in a cottage garden or, if you have lots of space, in a wild meadow. The effect will be stunning!
You can also use it as a cut flower, and it is often used in dried flower arrangements, as it will keep beautiful even when dry.
20. Candle Larkspur (Delphinium ‘Purple Passion’)
Imagine large, round deep purple flowers with rounded leaves and a white center to set them off. Imagine many of them, but really lots!
Imagine them blooming on long stems, set off by a rich, dark green foliage of divided leaves… You have imagined candle larkspur then, one of the most decorative purple flowering perennials ever!
It will bloom for many weeks and into the fall in your flower beds, borders or cottage garden, where it will stand cold temperatures but also heat and humidity.
So, it is perfect to bring purple into your garden later in the season.
Large Purple Flowering Perennials
Finally, let’s look up, towards the sky… Having purple from eye level upwards has the striking effect of bringing three colors rich in symbolism and linked to the higher emotions, self development and spiritual values together: green, blue and purple: love, intelligence and perception.
So, here are taller perennials with amazing purple flowers.
21. Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda ‘Royal Purple’)
With gentle grape-like, bright purple and wonderfully scented inflorescences dropping from those twisting branches with delicately shaped leaves, Wisteria floribunda ‘Royal Purple’ will always be the prima-donna in any garden.
The sheer richness of this elegant plant’s bloom is a reminder of the generosity of Nature, and a hint at infinity, bringing that touch of “oriental garden” philosophy, aesthetic and style to your garden.
This variety won the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Agricultural Society for its exceptional beauty, and being exceptional among exceptional plants like wisterias is an amazing achievement indeed.
It needs support, of course, and it will bloom well if facing South, on your pergolas, gazebos, at your gate, or climbing next to the walls of your house.
22. Clematis ‘Etoille Violette’ (Clematis viticella ‘Etoille Violette’)
The bright purple flowers of this clematis will appear as if suspended in the air, with just a few, delicate leaves around them, making them even more striking.
This perennial is a must if you need a climber of this color to give life to your patio, pergola, fence or gate…
With big flowers, about 4 inches wide (10 cm), often coming in small groups, this is one of the oldest cultivars of Clematis viticella (a European group of this perennial climber), as it was bred back in 1885 and it has been an elegant but eye catching presence in gardens, climbing on trellises and walls ever since.
23. Passion Flower ‘Victoria’ (Passiflora x violacea ‘Victoria’)
If you want to bring passion into your garden, with amazingly original, showy, bright purple flowers, then, of course, this variety of passionflower, ‘Victoria’ is by far your best choice.
Passiflora is famous for having flowers that remind us of the crown of thorns Jesus wore on the cross, blooms of a beauty that you cannot forget, and, often, very striking and bright colors.
This variety has deep purple pink flowers and a ring of deep purple filaments in its flower. It will be a great, eye catching protagonist climbing in your pergola, patio, fence or gate, where it will blossom from mid summer right into the fall.
24. Hydrangea ‘Merritt’s Supreme’ (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Merritt’s Supreme’)
Rolling hills of purple flowers is what you will get if you plant hydrangea ‘Merritt’s Supreme’ in your garden.
This perennial is, of course, a wonderful presence both as an individual plant or in groups, where it can form a large bush rich in foliage that turns purple from mid summer to fall.
The color, however, may depend on the soil’s pH, and later blooms tend to go darker, towards plum.
It can be part of your flower beds, hedges, or borders, but it will also look stunning as an isolated plant, and you can use it for cut flowers.
25. Sweetshrub ‘Harlgate Wine’ (Calycanthus x raulstonii ‘Harlgate Wine’)
With big, burgundy purple flowers that can reach 3 inches across (7 cm), this lesser known perennial, sweetshrub ‘Harlgate Wine’ can easily become a showy protagonist in your garden.
The foliage of this perennial has its own charm, with big, emanate leaves, of an oval shape and glossy texture, which will turn yellow in the fall, but the flowers…
They are a splash of passion, intensity and vibrancy that no visitor to your garden will ever miss. They look a bit like magnolia flowers, and this plant is really abundant with its blooms, that will last from spring to early summer.
You can have it as a stand alone plant, or in hedges and borders; it also looks great against a wall.
A Purple Rain of Flowers
You can literally shower your garden with purple flowers using perennials.
There are small perennials with purple flowers that will only reach a few inches in height, but also medium sized ones, and all the way to large plants that can reach a few meters into the sky with their beautiful, warm, vibrant and elegant flowers.
As you can see, you have a wide choice of outstanding purple beauties to choose from.
Whichever plant you choose, think about the combination you want your purple in; it is not an easy color to combine. Purple and pink, for example, enhances the nostalgic and romantic quality of the first.
Purple and blue or purple and yellow gives great, dramatic contrast. Purple and red creates a sense of warmth and energy.
But I will leave you with a tickling suggestion: imagine a green garden with many white flowers and dabs of purple scattered here and there; how would you define this effect?
Amber Noyes was born and raised in a suburban California town, San Mateo. She holds a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of California as well as a BS in Biology from the University of San Francisco. With experience working on an organic farm, water conservation research, farmers’ markets, and plant nursery, she understands what makes plants thrive and how we can better understand the connection between microclimate and plant health. When she’s not on the land, Amber loves informing people of new ideas/things related to gardening, especially organic gardening, houseplants, and growing plants in a small space.