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Purple Flower Names and Pictures | Almanac.com

20 Purple Flower Names and Pictures—Because Purple Reigns!

20 royal purple flowers
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Plants with purple flowers for the garden

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Goodness, there are some gorgeous purple flowers! In ancient times, purple dye was so rare that it was only used by the rich and powerful. Luckily, nowadays, purple is available for all of us to use in our landscapes. See 20 purple-flowering plants to add to your garden.

Purple, a symbol of royalty and wealth, adds richness and depth to a flowerbed or container. A mix of blue and red, purple can vary from heavily reddish violet to mostly blue indigo, with many other shades of purple in between.

Purple goes with almost everything! 

  • It can be used to separate clashing colors, such as pink and orange, or to add depth to pastels.
  • Purple and pink is a natural pairing that strikes a balance between quiet serenity and high energy.
  • Purple and blue is a combination that radiates cool sophistication. 
  • Purple and red is a flashy hot combo, and purple and orange screams Mardi Gras! 
  • Purple and yellow are complementary colors, opposite each other on the color wheel. Pale yellow makes purple pop, while dark purple pushes bright yellow to the forefront. 
  • Deepest purples are the closest thing to black in the plant world. Flowers such as ‘Jet Black’ and ‘Nigra’ hollyhocks, ‘Black Knight’ scabiosa, ‘Chocolate Chip’ nicotiana, ‘Black Magic’ petunia, ‘Black Button’ centaurea, and ‘Black Beauty’ pansies are actually dark maroon or burgundy purple. Colors this dark can be lost at a distance, so mix them with white, silver, or yellow to make them stand out. 
  • Don’t forget purple leaves! Smokebush, heuchera, perilla, Persian shield, ‘Dark Beauty’ ligularia, ‘Diablo’ physocarpus, ‘Chocoholic’ cimicifuga, ‘Black Lace’ sambucus, and ‘Mahogany Splendor’ hibiscus are just a few of the plants which sport foliage in shades of purple that will bring season-long drama to your garden.

20 Purple Flower Names

To add a touch of royalty to your landscape, here are 20 purple flowering plants:

Bulbs

1. Crocuses

Crocuses come in a rainbow of colors, with plenty of purple varieties to choose from. If you are troubled with rodents eating your crocuses, try one in the tommasinianus family. They look the same as other crocus but are not an appealing snack for most critters and will survive to bloom year after year. Learn how to plant crocuses.

  • 3 to 4 inches tall
  • Full to part sun
  • Zones 3 to 8
  • Bloom in early spring
purple crocus flowers
Crocuses celebrate the start of spring!

2. Tulips

Tulips are available in many colors, including shades of purple ranging from softest lilac to almost black, solid, or with stripes or frilly edges. For a rich, dark purple, double flower, grow peony-type ‘Negrita’; for an almost black single, choose ‘Queen of the Night’. For more info on tulips, check out our growing guide.

  • 8 to 24 inches tall, depending on variety
  • Full sun to part sun
  • Zones 3 to 8
  • Bloom times vary from early to late spring, depending on the variety
purple tulips

Annuals

3. Larkspur 

Bearing similar tall, showy spikes of blossoms, larkspur (Consolida ajacis) is closely related to delphinium. For double-flowering, extra tall plants (3-4 feet), try ‘Giant Imperial’ or QIS series ‘Lilac’. In areas with mild winters, you can plant its cold-hardy seeds in the fall for early spring blooms; it will be a welcome source of nectar for early pollinators. In colder regions, plant seeds in early spring for summer blossoms. A popular cut flower, it can be used fresh or dried. Be forewarned that all parts of this plant are poisonous!

  • 1 to 4 feet tall
  • Full sun
  • Direct seeding 
  • Blooms in early spring or summer
purple larkspur
Larkspur is related to delphinium but easier to grow.

4. Heliotrope

With its luscious fragrance, ‘Fragrant Delight’ heliotrope has dark violet, vanilla-scented flowers. Though you might be tempted to eat them, don’t! All parts of the plant are toxic. Grow them in containers near your outdoor seating areas to take advantage of their fragrance. Butterflies find them irresistible.

  • 15 to 20 inches tall 
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Transplant outside after all danger of frost has passed
  • Blooms all summer
purple heliotrope
Heliotrope is also called “cherry pie” for its delicious smell. Plants can be wintered over indoors.

5. Poppy

An amethyst purple flower, the petals of Lauren’s Grape have darker, plum-colored spots near the center. Bees love it! About a month before your last frost date, sow the seeds where you would like them to grow since they are hard to transplant. Allow it to self-seed and establish a colony of these beautiful breadseed poppies. Learn more about growing poppies.

  • 2 to 3 feet tall
  • Full sun
  • Direct seed
  • Late spring to summer
purple poppy
This poppy is tougher than it looks, standing up to drought and poor soil conditions while producing up to 5 flowers per plant.

6. Tall Verbena

Verbena bonariensis is a tender perennial from Brazil, hardy in zones 7 to 10 but grown as an annual everywhere else. It has clusters of lavender blossoms atop 4-foot tall, wiry stems. Migrating butterflies are drawn to it, and it remains in bloom until a hard freeze. There are some shorter varieties, including 1 to 2 foot tall ‘Lollipop’ and 2 ½ foot tall ‘Vanity’. Learn more about growing verbena.

  • 3 to 4 feet tall
  • Full sun
  • Grow from transplants
  • Blooms from early summer to late fall
purple verbena
Also called Brazilian or purpletop vervain, this South American native stands up to the heat.

7. Zinnia 

An heirloom zinnia, ‘Purple Prince’ bears huge, double, dahlia-like flowers in rich rosy purple. Excellent as a cut flower or back-of-the-border show-stopper. Easy to grow from seed, it blooms all summer until fall frost. Learn all bout growing zinnias.

  • 3 feet tall 
  • Full sun
  • Direct seed outside or start indoors and transplant when frost danger is passed
  • Blooms summer into early fall
purple zinnia
Be sure to plant extra zinnias so you’ll have plenty to cut for bouquets.

Vines

8.   Sweet Peas 

‘Cupani’ and ‘Matucana’ are annual sweet peas that have bi-colored blossoms paired with deep purple tops and lighter violet lower lips. Both are very fragrant heirloom plants, dating from the 17th century, and are quite similar in looks and growth. Cold-hardy, sweet peas thrive in cool growing conditions; when temps get above 80, they stop blooming. Unlike their edible cousins, these peas are toxic, so don’t serve them for dinner!

  • 6 feet tall
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Start seeds indoors and transplant outside 2 weeks before the last frost.
  • Blooms spring into summer.
purple sweet peas
These sweet peas descend from ones found by a Franciscan friar while walking the hillsides of Sicily in the late 1600s.

9. Morning Glory

Another heirloom annual vine, Morning Glory ‘Grandpa Ott’ loves the heat (unlike sweet peas). The petals of its trumpet-shaped flowers are deep purple with a maroon stripe in the center. Like other annual Morning Glories, it will self-seed. While it’s NOT to be confused with perennial morning glory, aka bindweed, the annual type can also run rampant, so check the invasive list in your state.

  • 6 to 10 feet tall
  • Full sun
  • Start seeds indoors or direct seed after the danger of frost has passed
  • Blooms summer into fall
purple morning glory
Seeds for this Morning Glory were given to Diane Whealy by her grandfather John Ott. It is one of the plants that inspired her and husband Kent to start the Seed Savers Exchange.

10. Clematis

There are so many great purple varieties of Clematis that it is hard to choose just one! We grow dark violet ‘Sweet Summer Love’, bright purple ‘Jackmanii’, and pale lavender ‘Betty Corning’ with great success but don’t be afraid to try others. Called the “queen of the climbers,” once established, they are long-lived perennials. Learn more about growing clematis.

  • 3 to 20 feet tall, depending on the variety
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Zones 4 to 9
  • Blooms from spring to fall depending on the variety
purple clematis vines
You can’t have too many clematis! They are very versatile and add an element of height to the garden. Just make sure they have something sturdy to climb.

Perennials

11. Violas

Cool-season growers, violas brighten up the garden in both spring and fall. With over 600 species to choose from, each with its own varieties, it can be overwhelming. But whether you opt for tiny bird’s foot violets, sweet Johnny-jump-ups, or giant pansies, you should have success. Easy to grow, these cheerful flowers are edible, and the plants host a large number of butterfly and moth larvae.

  • Height can vary from 4 to 12 inches, depending on the species
  • Full sun to full shade, depending on the species 
  • Zones 3 to 9
  • Bloom in spring and early summer; many rebloom in fall
purple violas
Adorable pansies are just one of the many types of viola that are perfect for your garden.

12. Lupine

There are many hybrids of Lupine, but look for native wild sundial lupine (Lupinus perennis), which hosts a large number of butterflies and bees and is the only larval food for endangered Karner blue butterflies. Southern lupines (Lupinus texensis), called bluebonnets, are the Texas state flower. A prairie native, they grow to be 6-18 inches tall. 

Lupine grows well in dry sandy soil and will quickly form a colony of plants if left to self-sow, making them a nice addition to a meadow garden. 

  • 1 to 4 feet tall
  • Full to part sun
  • Zones 3 to 8
  • Blooms late spring
purple lupine

13. Irises

Whether you choose a native blue flag, German bearded, Siberian, or Japanese irises, you are assured of having tall, showy blossoms with lots of purples to choose from. Irises grow from a creeping rhizome, not a bulb, so don’t bury them. See more info on growing irises.

  • 2 to 4 feet tall
  • Full to part sun
  • Zones 3 to 9
  • Blossoms in early summer
purple iris flowers

14. Lavender

Not only does lavender have fragrant flowers, but its gray-green foliage is also aromatic. It likes alkaline soil and will form neat, bushy plants that make a nice edging for a perennial border. Keep them in front where you can easily brush your hands over them and release their scent. Flowers are edible and make an excellent lavender lemonade, or dry them for sachets to tuck in with your linens. See how to grow lavender plants.

  • 1 to 3 feet tall 
  • Full sun
  • Zones 5 to 9
  • Summer bloom time
purple lavender
This lavender is just begging to be touched! Who could resist its fragrance?

15. Catmint

A tough-as-nails alternative to lavender, catmint has spikes of lavender flowers all summer atop fuzzy, gray-green foliage. Drought-resistant and tolerant of harsh winters, it is a pollinator magnet. Look for popular ‘Walker’s Low’ or dwarf ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ for front-of-the-border duty or ‘Six Hills Giant’ if you have a large space to fill. Pollinators will love it! See how to grow catmint.

  • 18 to 36 inches tall and up to 3 feet wide
  • Full sun to light shade
  • Zones 4 to 8
  • Blooms all summer  
purple catmint
Don’t worry about catmint attracting cats to your yard. It is not as big a draw for them as catnip.

16. Monkshood

With tall spikes of deep purple, helmet-like flowers, monkshood is a handsome late bloomer, bringing color to the flowerbed as many summer flowers wind down. With its feathery leaves, monkshood also looks great with other fall flowers. Also called wolfsbane, it is one of the many poisonous plants in the buttercup family.

  • 3 to 4 feet tall
  • Sun to part shade
  • Zones 5 to 8
  • Blooms late summer into early fall
purple monkshood
Monkshood gets its name from the way its flowers resemble the cowl on a monk’s robe.

17. New England Asters 

A native autumn-blooming plant, New England asters provide late-season sustenance to pollinators and migrating butterflies. 

The species can be quite tall (5 to 6 feet), so if you need a smaller plant, check out the popular dwarf ‘Purple Dome.’ It stays 18 to 24 inches tall and is covered with bright purple flowers. Just be aware that the hybrids are not as attractive to pollinators as the straight species plants.

  • 3 to 6 feet tall
  • Sun to part sun
  • Zones 3 to 7
  • Blossoms from late summer through fall
purple asters

Shrubs

18. Lilacs 

The quintessential purple flower of spring, lilacs, has a gorgeous scent. There are many varieties of this heirloom plant and lots of newer hybrids that offer longer bloom times and more than just shades of purple. To keep your lilac in shape, prune it right after flowering; otherwise, you’ll be cutting off next year’s flower buds. Lilacs do best in colder climates since a period of dormancy is needed to trigger blooming. See more info on growing lilacs.

  • 5 to 20 feet tall
  • Full sun
  • Zones 3 to 7
  • Blooms for 2 weeks in mid-spring
purple lilacs
While they are in bloom, cut some lilacs flowers to bring indoors. Enjoy the fragrance!

19. Buddleia

Also called Butterfly Bush, Buddleia is sometimes compared to a summer lilac since its long panicles of tiny blossoms closely resemble those of spring lilacs. Buddleia has a different scent, more like sweet honey. The plant draws loads of them in for a sip of its nectar, but it is not a host plant for their larvae. Unfortunately, it is considered invasive in some parts of the country, so make sure your state isn’t one of them before you plant. 

  • 5 to 10 feet tall and wide
  • Full sun
  • Zones 5 to 9
  • Blossoms mid to late summer
 Buddleia purple

Painted lady is just one of the many butterflies that will flock to your buddleia bush.

20. Rose of Sharon 

With big beautiful blossoms, the Rose of Sharon ‘Minerva’ has lavender flowers with a bold red eye spot in the center. Did you know each flower only lasts a day? No worries because this plant keeps on pushing out flowers from late summer, continuously into fall!

  • 6 to 8 feet tall
  • Full sun
  • Zones 4 to 9
  • Blooms late summer into early fall
purple rose of sharon
Keep a close eye on your Rose of Sharon. Japanese beetles are fond of them, too!

Purple also has a dark side. Many purple plants are poisonous. Larkspur, heliotrope, monkshood, and even innocuous-looking sweet peas are just a few of the prettiest purple plants that should not be eaten. No matter the plant color, if you have pets or young children, check to see if the plants you consider adding to their world could be toxic.

See even more flowers that come in purple hues in our Flower Guide Library.

About The Author

Robin Sweetser

Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. Read More from Robin Sweetser

2023 Gardening Club