Remember that flowering seasons may vary, especially when the weather is variable. Be sure to research the plants you like to check that your garden can provide their growing requirements; for example, whether the plants need a sunny spot or shade, sandy or moist soil, and so on.
Purple flowers for your garden
Classifying flowers as purple can prove tricky when hints of red, pink or blue creep into petals. Most difficult is separating purple from blue, so do check out our selection of blue flowers for your garden too.
Purple flowers for your spring garden
Purple spring shrubs and trees
Nothing says spring quite like a lilac tree (Syringa vulgaris) in full bloom: one of the most sumptuous is ‘Katherine Havemeyer’ with heads packed with fragrant double flowers.
Find out how to grow lilacs.
It’s also a good time for rhododendrons: ‘Frank Galsworthy has reddish purple flowers while ‘Mrs Charles Pearson’ is pale lavender
More unusual is Paulownia tomentosa, the foxglove tree: its common name neatly describes its flowers – but the tree can take years to produce them.
Purple spring climbers
As well as old favourites Wisteria sinensis, with its long trailing tassel-like heads packed with ‘pea’ flowers, and delicate hanging bells of Clematis alpina, there is a less well-known climber that creates an impact when visitors try to identify it. Akebia quinata, or the chocolate vine, produces male and female flowers on the same plant – both are purple – and has pretty lobed leaves.
Purple flowers in the spring borders
Fritillaria meleagris, the snake’s head fritillary, has gorgeous bell-shaped flowers with a chequered purple pattern; purple pasque flowers in the Pulsatilla genus have soft downy petals, stems and leaves.
Small, jewel-like hepaticas come in shades of purple – look out for ‘Forest Purple’, while tall hybrid hellebores from the Ashwood Garden Hybrids include shades of dusky grape, claret and plum.
Purple flowers for a summer garden
Purple summer shrubs
Some gardeners believe lavender (Lavandula spp.) is blue, as in the nursery rhyme, but we say it’s purple, from intense violet-purple ‘Hidcote’ to L. pinnata var. pinnata, a pale natural variety.
Compact purple Hebes include ‘Caledonia’ and ground-cover ‘Wingletye’. Hydrangeas are known for their ability to change flower colour depending on growing conditions. Look after H. aspera ‘Macrophylla’ and it should keep its mauve flowers; likewise H. involucrata ‘Viridescens’.
Purple flowers in the summer borders
Campanulas are some of the loveliest purple flowers: all blooms are bell-shaped but size and style can vary enormously, from rockery plants such as Campanula carpatica to 1m high Campanula lactiflora.
Purple aquilegias with their flowers like jesters’ caps can be grown from seed, but if you want to keep your aquilegias purple from year to year check that your neighbours aren’t growing different colours – they hybridise easily.
Bearded irises come in shades from violet purple ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ to pale lavender ‘Tea Service’.
Purple summer climbers
Summer climbers include deep purple Ipomoea indica, morning glory, which is easily grown from seed if started off indoors and will flower into autumn.
There are plenty of clematis in the Viticella Group with big dinner-plate sized purple flowers.
Passionflowers, Passiflora spp., have complex flowers with concentric circles of filaments and an extraordinary branched central stigma to catch pollen. Just don’t expect them to produce edible fruit in the UK.
Two roses that come in shades of violet are the old rose ‘La Belle Sultane’ whose flower colour is offset by golden stamens, and ‘Reine des Violettes’ with velvety, fragrant blooms.
Purple flowers for an autumn garden
Coming into bloom in flower beds in autumn are asters with their daisy-like flowers. Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’ is a low compact plant with bright purple flowers; Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’ is taller but equally vibrant.
Find out how to grow Aster x frikartii 'Mönch'.
Lower-growing heathers, Calluna vulgaris, bring a touch of colour to ground level: ‘Sir John Charrington’ is mauve with hints of pink; ‘Firefly’ is intense purple.
Purple flowers for a winter garden
Miniature iris ‘George’ is just 12cm tall and may send its violet-purple flowers up through the snow in late winter. ‘Pauline’ is another miniature iris – the flowers can be slightly duller than ‘George’, maybe more maroon.