The author lives in a quiet rural community in lower Puna on the Big Island. He's an avid gardener, traveler, and photographer.
The Beauty of Tropical Plants With Purple Flowers
Purple is a fascinating color! It exudes mystical, sensual energy, yet it 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 mixture, 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!
Examples of Purple Tropical Plants
- Orchid, Vinca, and Wishbone
- Sandpaper Vine and Purple Passionflower Vine
- Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow, Bougainvillea, and Hibiscus
- Bromeliad, Ti, Anthurium, and Coleus
- Waterlily and Water Hyacinth
- Persian Shield and Calathea
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.
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Flowers for Patios, Terraces, Water Gardens, and Fish Ponds
If you want to add a splash of purple to your patio or pond, consider the following plants that do well in containers or aquatic environments.
Bromeliad, Ti, Anthurium, and Coleus
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.
Waterlily and Water Hyacinth
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!
Persian Shield and Calathea: Plants With Purple Foliage
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.
All photos were taken by the author with an Olympus Stylus TG-630 iHS digital camera and an iPhone 6.
© 2019 Viet Doan
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 21, 2019:
Hello, Viet, actually. But these can not equate the natural organic scents. I am also afraid I'll get cancer of the nostrils by smelling these chemicals! Lol! And enjoy the week.
Viet Doan (author) from Big Island, Hawaii on April 20, 2019:
Aloha Elayne and Miebakagh! So glad you're enchanted by the purple tropical flowers. Wish you could smell the incredible fragrant on some of them! May be one day in the future, with advanced technology, we can actually "smell" flowers on our computer screen!
Elayne from Rocky Mountains on April 20, 2019:
My favorite color! Love the purple hibiscus! Very beautiful pictures and great article.
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 20, 2019:
Hello, Viet, with such beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing a lovely informative article. Enjoy the week.
Viet Doan (author) from Big Island, Hawaii on April 19, 2019:
Always good to hear from you Liz! Oh yes, Provence's lavender fields come to my mind too! But I also dream about the purple flowers in your neck of the woods like allium, larkspur, delphinium, aster. I imagine those are a must in any UK cottage garden. Happy spring!
Liz Westwood from UK on April 19, 2019:
This is a beautifully illustrated article. You are very fortunate in living in a climate where these flowers flourish. Purple for me brings to mind fields of lavender in Provence.