Purple is a powerful color. When the Pantone Color Institute declared a shade of purple named Ultra Violet to be the Color of the Year, they called it “complex and contemplative,” noting that purple has long been “symbolic of unconventionality and artistic brilliance.” While I don’t know much about using purple for interior design, art, or fashion, I do know how to use it in a garden. The power and bravado of purple in the landscape is undeniable, especially when it comes to perennials. Today, I’d like to share my favorite purple perennial flowers. Whether their shade of purple is dark and regal or light and luscious, these beauties add depth, richness, and a pop of color to your garden.
Types of perennials with purple flowers
Fans of purple in the garden are always pleased to learn that there are violet-hued blooming perennials in a broad range of sizes and shapes. From purple-flowering ground covers to the tallest purple perennials, there’s a purple plant for every garden no matter its size or style.
In creating this list of purple perennial flowers, I found it easiest to divide them into groups based on their stature. Most gardeners use the mature height of a plant to determine its placement in the garden and whether or not it works in the space.
Below, the list is divided into three sections:
- Tall purple perennials
- Medium height purple perennials
- Short purple perennial flowers
In addition to each plant’s botanical name, details on their site preferences, growth habits, hardiness, and bloom times are also included. In addition, I noted which of these perennials with purple flowers are deer-resistant.
I’m sure you’ll find these purple perennial flowers to be excellent additions to your garden. And be sure to tell me about any other varieties you adore in the comment section at the end of the post. I always love to learn about reader favorites!
Tall purple perennials
Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
Garden phlox is such a classically beautiful perennial, and purple varieties of phlox, such as ‘Flame Blue’ or ‘Blue Paradise’, offer added flair. Averaging 2 to 3 feet tall, with round globes of blooms, phlox perform best in areas with full sun. Though the deer are quite fond of them, these purple perennial flowers are in bloom from mid summer through fall. Deadhead them regularly to generate more blooms, and pinch the stems back by a third in late spring to increase branching. Hardy down to -30 degrees F, purple phlox are adored by butterflies, bumblebees, hummingbird moths, and other pollinators.
Vervain (Verbena stricta)
If you’re looking for a North American native perennial with purple flowers, vervain is an excellent choice. The tall purple perennial flowers produced on these plants are real standouts in the garden. Topping out at 4 to 5 feet in height, sun-loving vervain is among the most underused purple-flowering perennials. Plants are somewhat difficult to find in the nursery trade, but it’s easy to start from seed. The deer don’t bother it, and many of our native bees find its nectar delicious. Vervain is hardy to -30 degrees F.
German bearded iris (Iris germanica)
German bearded iris come in a rainbow of colors, but my favorite hue by far is violet. Thankfully, there are many varieties to fulfill your desire to add purple flowering perennials to your garden. Iris thrive in full to partial sun, and they’re tough as nails. Don’t bury the rhizomes too deeply, though, or they rot. Of the many deer-resistant purple perennials available, German iris are among the easiest to grow. Fully hardy down to -40 degrees F and reaching 2 to 3 feet in height, iris are early spring bloomers with a carefree nature.
Bear’s breeches (Acanthus mollis)
If you’re looking for a large perennial with purple flowers, bear’s breeches has you covered. Big, bold, spine-covered leaves are topped with 3-foot-tall spires of hooded flowers every summer. Thriving in full sun, bear’s breeches’s blooms last for months. Winter hardy down to -20 degrees F, give this purple perennial tons of room in the garden. And with all those spines, the deer and rabbits leave it alone.
Monkshood (Aconitum napellus or A. carmichaelli)
This plant is a real treat for gardeners looking to add purple perennials that bloom in the fall. My monkshood is the latest blooming flower in my landscape. Tall spires of flowers don’t open until very late summer and last well into autumn. Give this plant full sun and the flowers stand tall. In the shade, they’re a bit floppier. Hardy to -40 degrees F, monkshood tops out at 3 to 4 feet in height. Be warned, however, that all parts of this plant are poisonous, so wash your hands thoroughly after working with it. This trait also makes monkshood deer-resistant, which is certainly an added bonus.
Tatarian aster (Aster tataricus)
Of all the tall purple perennials out there, Tatarian aster is my hands-down favorite. A magnet for migrating monarchs, this late-blooming perennial with purple flowers stands a whopping 6 feet tall! It’s smothered with clusters of small, pale purple flowers that are relished by many different pollinators at a time when little else is blooming in the landscape. Thriving in full sun and requiring no staking for support, Tatarian aster is hardy to -40 degrees F. Though the deer don’t eat it in my garden, I have heard from other gardeners who find their plants nibbled by deer from time to time.
False indigo (Baptisia australis)
False indigo is an exceptional early-blooming perennial. I enjoy watching the chubby bumblebees pop open the lidded blooms each spring. They’re among the only bees heavy enough to open the flowers and pollinate them. False indigo is another plant on the list of purple flowering perennials the deer don’t eat, which is certainly a nice bonus. The straight species of false indigo produces spikes of purple-blue flowers, but there are other varieties that bloom in shades of yellow, burgundy, and white. Growing to 3 feet in height in sunny spots and with a winter hardiness down to -40 degrees F, false indigo doesn’t have a particularly long bloom time, but the foliage itself is quite lovely.
Russell blue lupine (Lupinus ‘Russell Blue’)
Lupines are classics in the sunny perennial garden, though I struggle to grow them in mine due to heavy clay and acidic soil. Lupines bloom in late spring and produce tall spires of dense blooms. ‘Russell Blue’ is actually more purple than blue, despite its cultivar name. For those seeking plants with purple flowers, it’s a variety well worth growing. Deer-resistant and winter hardy to -30 degrees F.
Medium perennials with purple flowers
Clustered bellflower (Campanula glomerata)
The dark purple flowers of clustered bellflower stop garden visitors in their tracks. Thriving in both full and partial sun, bellflower is hardy down to -40 degrees F. A favorite of pollinators, clustered bellflower is a purple flowering perennial that blooms all summer, as long as you keep the plant deadheaded. Reported to be deer resistant, the blooms of bellflower are grouped into balls atop the flower stems.
Blazing star (Liatris spicata)
A North American native purple perennial, blazing stars are relished by butterflies and bees. Their 12-inch-tall bloom spikes emerge from thin, strap-like leaves each summer. The blooms open in succession down the stem, giving this plant a long bloom time. Preferring full sun conditions, blazing star plants grow from a bulb-like structure called a corm. They’re easy to plant, deer-resistant perennials with purple blooms that also make great cut flowers, and they are hardy to -40 degrees F.
Salvia (Salvia nemorosa)
Another purple flowering perennial that blooms all summer, salvia thrives in hot, sunny, and dry garden beds. The skinny spikes of flowers have square stems, indicating that this plant is a member of the mint family. Keep the plant deadheaded, and you’re rewarded with blooms for months on end. Topping out at 18 inches, this deer-resistant purple flower deserves a place in every garden. There are many purple-flowered varieties worth growing, including ‘Cardonna’ and ‘Amethyst’. Another personal favorite salvia is S. sylvestris ‘May Night’. Most varieties are hardy to -30 degrees F.
Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum ‘Blue Fortune’)
If pollinator-friendly purple perennial flowers are on your must-have list, than write down the name anise hyssop. ‘Blue Fortune’ produces chubby spikes of light purple blooms atop licorice-scented foliage. Adored by bees and butterflies, but loathed by deer, anise hyssop is in non-stop bloom for months. Pinch the plant back by a third in late May, and you’ll have twice as many blooms! Hardy to -20 degrees F. Full sun conditions are best for this plant, but it can also tolerate light shade.
Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum)
Another North American native plant with purple flowers, mistflower reminds many gardeners of common annual ageratum. The powder puff-like blooms appear in clusters, just like ageratum, but this late-blooming purple flower doesn’t produce its blooms until very late in the season. Also unlike ageratum, mistflower is a perennial that’s fully hardy down to -20 degrees F. Plant it in full sun to partial shade, and your late-season garden will be filled with pale purple, fuzzy blooms on 1-foot-tall stems. It’s moderately resistant to deer, and spreads quite prolifically (occasionally to the point of being obnoxious).
Spike speedwell (Veronica spicata)
Veronica is an old-fashioned, deer-resistant, purple flowering perennial that gardeners have loved for generations. Unfortunately, some varieties are prone to powdery mildew, so choose resistant varieties, such as ‘Royal Candles’. Reaching about 12 inches in height, spike speedwell has pointy spires of densely packed purple flowers that open from the bottom up. It remains in bloom for weeks. When planted in full sun the plant does not need to be staked and survives winters down to -40 degrees F.
Pikes Peak beardstongue (Penstemon x mexicali ‘Pikes Peak Purple’)
Yet another purple perennial for the bees, ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ beardstongue has it all. Gorgeous looks, prolific dark purple flowers, and ease of care separate this plant from the rest. Winter hardy to -20 degrees F, Pikes Peak Purple’s tubular blooms are shaped like little trumpets. Choose a full sun site with well-drained soil, and this plant thrives.
Short purple perennial flowers
Wood phlox (Phlox divaricata)
Wood phlox is a shade-loving, purple perennial that produces early-season blooms. Often finished blooming right along with the tulips, this native of the woodlands of eastern North America, is nothing short of lovely. The pale purple blooms bear five petals each, and they are borne in clusters atop 6-inch-tall, wiry stems. In bloom for just a few short weeks each spring, wood phlox is hardy to -40 degrees F. It’s resistant to deer and dry soil, too.
Purple-leaved spiderwort (Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Queen’)
While this perennial does have tiny lavender flowers, it’s more prized for its purple leaves. Though it is hardy only in warmer climates that don’t fall below 0 degrees F, it’s well worth growing, even if you have to replace it each spring. Of all the plants with purple leaves available to gardeners, ‘Purple Queen’ is a real standout. It makes a dramatic display, and with a height of just 12 inches, it tumbles nicely over the edges of containers and retaining walls.
Lalla aster (Symphyotrichum x ‘Lalla’)
A hybrid of a North American native aster, ‘Lalla’ has so much bloom power it’s not even funny. Low-growing and spreading, this purple perennial is hardy to -40 degrees F. It produces a bazillion small purple flowers very late in the season, and it’s a magnet for tiny native pollinators. Though the deer may nibble it from time to time, ‘Lalla’ provides much-needed late-season color in the perennial border. It enjoys full sun, though it’s at home in dappled shade, too. If you can’t find this variety of aster, try the more common ‘Purple Dome’ as an alternative.
Lavender (Lavandula species)
Lavender is among the most familiar of all plants with purple flowers. Prized for its heavenly scent and essential oil content, lavender is both deer-resistant and sun-loving. Plant it in well-drained soil for the best results. There are many different species and varieties of lavender available. Choose one that’s hardy in your climate as there are many to choose from. Lavandula x intermedia ‘Phenomenal’ and ‘Grosso’ are personal favorites.
Creeping speedwell (Veronica x ‘Waterperry Blue’)
A low-growing perennial with purple flowers, creeping speedwell makes a great ground cover. Though it’s only in bloom for a short time each spring, creeping speedwell looks lovely year-round. It’s semi-evergreen and needs nothing more than a light haircut in the very early spring. Hardy to -30 degrees F, this purple-flowering groundcover is deer resistant and produces pretty little blooms in full sun.
Lungwort (Pulmonaria species)
Those seeking purple perennial flowers that bloom early, thrive in the shade, and are deer resistant, should put lungwort on their list. There are many varieties of lungwort with purple blooms, including ‘Diana Clare’, ‘Mrs. Moon’, and ‘Blue Ensign’. Other selections produce pink or white flowers. Some have mottled or spotted foliage, too. Plant lungwort in a shady spot and give it ample water. Hardy to -40 degrees F.
Coralbells (Heuchera species)
Okay, I’m cheating a little here, because coralbells aren’t purple perennial flowers. Instead, they’re purple-leaved perennials. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different coralbell cultivars, with all manner of interestingly colored foliage. From bronze and chartreuse to silver, green, and peach, coralbells are standout foliage plants for the shade, but purple coralbell varieties, such as ‘Plum Pudding’, ‘Dark Secret’, ‘Forever Purple’, and ‘Wildberry’, are really something special. And because it’s their foliage that’s colored, the splash of purple lasts all season long.
Millenium flowering onion (Allium ‘Millenium’)
This is a rabbit-, vole-, and deer-resistant plant with purple blooms that has so much to offer! The orb-shaped bloom clusters last for weeks, and they play host to oodles of pollinators, including butterflies and bees. Full sun is best for this perennial, and it’s hardy to -20 degrees F. ‘Millenium’ cannot be beat for its compact growth habit, ease of care, and long bloom time. It’s a winner all around.
Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)
Pasque flowers are so sweet! Their cheery blooms pop out of the soil to welcome spring, soon followed by fine, fern-like foliage. This early-blooming purple perennial also produces little poufy seed heads that wave in the wind. Hardy all the way down to -40 degrees F and thriving in well-drained soils, they reseed quite nicely if they’re happy. Pasque flower is among the earliest blooming purple perennial flowers, and it’s at home in full to partial sun. Deer resistant.
I hope you’ve discovered some new favorite purple perennials to add to your own garden. If you’re fond of one that’s not on our list, be sure to tell us about it in the comment section below.
Learn more about some of these great purple perennials in this video from my garden.
For more on growing beautiful perennials, check out the following articles:
- Perennials with long bloom times
- The best evergreen ground covers
- 15 exceptional perennials for the shade
- Plants for cottage gardens
- Shasta daisies: Perennials for pollinators