Planting a Garden With Purple Tropical Flowers
Purple is a fascinating color! It exudes mystical, sensual energy, yet signifies power, wisdom, and creativity. Artistically, it’s the combination of the two primary colors red and blue. Depending on how much red or blue is in the mixing, there’s an infinite number of purple shades: lilac, mauve, amethyst, violet, lavender, etc.
Gardeners also have an astounding array of purple flowers to choose from for planting. Roses, tulips, irises, pansies, wisteria, and hydrangea are some garden plants that are well-known (and beloved!) for their purple variation.
When it comes to tropical flowers, however, purple is somewhat a scarcity! Most tropical plants produce flowers in red, pink, yellow, or even white, but rarely in purple. Nevertheless, there are a few extraordinary purple tropical flowers that you can plant in your garden. These purple beauties are not only unique but also stunning to look at!
The photos in this article were taken at the author's and other private gardens located in the lower Puna district on the Big Island of Hawaii (USDA plant hardiness zone 12b).
Orchid, Vinca, and Wishbone
Of all the tropical plants in the world, orchid takes the lead for having the most numerous purple varieties. Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, and Cattleya orchids are known to have beautiful, long-lasting purple blooms.
For bedding or groundcover planting, vinca and wishbone flower are the best choices. They look fantastic when planted together, creating a spectacular carpet of contrasting pale violet and dark purple.
Sandpaper Vine and Purple Passionflower Vine
For trellis and fences, sandpaper vine is a must! In the summer, it blooms profusely and covers the whole trellis/fence with clusters of dainty lavender color flowers. Another excellent choice is the purple passionflower vine with its heavenly scented blossoms! But beware, like most passionflower vines, it is a prolific climber and will quickly take over anything it can reach, including nearby trees, rooftops, power poles, etc.
Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow, Bougainvillea, and Hibiscus
For hedges, the Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow is an attractive shrub. Its name is inspired by the flower’s life-cycle colors. When it first blooms, the flowers are bluish purple, then gradually change to various shades of violet, then becoming pure white before falling off the branches.
Bougainvillea and hibiscus are other tropical plants ideal for creating a "green" privacy fence or border (as seen in many gardens in Hawaii). Hibiscus has dozens of cultivars that produce large, showy purple flowers, blending with other exotic hues on their petals.
In Hawaii, purple plumeria is quite rare and not commonly seen in home gardens or parks. There are a few hybrids that produce exquisite lilac purple flowers. They are highly sought after by plumeria enthusiasts and collectors.
Patios, Terraces, Water Gardens, and Fish Ponds
For the patio or terrace, bromeliad, ti, anthurium, and coleus can be planted in pots or containers. Many of these typical tropical plants have striking leaf patterns and pretty flowers in light to deep violet colors.
For the water garden or fish pond, hardy waterlily comes in many different purple hybrids. Water hyacinths are also a great choice, as they are known for their delicate pale lavender flowers that resemble irises. These aquatic plants are easy to care for and can live happily in just a large pot filled with water!
Some tropical plants are famous for their gorgeous purple foliage instead of flowers! Persian Shield is an example. Their shiny silver-purple leaves will brighten up any corner of the garden. Calathea is another species known for their beautiful white, green, and purple variegated leaves. These shade-loving plants are low-maintenance and often used as houseplants.
Did You Know?
- Because purple is a composite of red (power) and blue (royalty), it has always been associated with nobility, wealth, and privilege.
- Purple is a “cool” color. So planting purple tropical flowers in a sunny, hot area will visually reduce the sun intensity and give the garden a cooling, soothing effect.
- Mixing purple tropical flowers with other flowers in "cool" colors like white or blue will magically transform the garden into a dreamy, romantic landscape, especially in the evening before sunset.
- Purple, yellow, and orange are complementary colors. Grouping flowers in these colors together will make the garden looks more vibrant and eye-catching.
If you live in a temperate climate, all the purple tropical flowers and plants featured in this article can be grown in pots/containers, so that you can move them indoors for protection during the cold winter season.
Tropical flowers prefer well-drained, humus-rich soil and plenty of moisture. Regular feeding and watering will keep them blooming again and again.
What image comes to your mind when you hear the word "purple"?
All photos were taken by the author with an Olympus Stylus TG-630 iHS digital camera and an iPhone 6.
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© 2019 Viet Doan