Purple is an essential color in landscaping, a vibrant yet cool hue that often works with warm colors such as golds and red as well as cool pinks. Purple flowering trees, and shrubs trained as trees, can be excellent focal points for a yard, large masses of color that can be the centerpiece of a bed of bulbs or flowers. Choose the tree first, then add perennials, annuals and other plants.
Shrubs To Prune Into Trees
Many shrubs grow 10 to 15 feet tall and can easily be encouraged to act as trees. Choose one of the main shoots to be your trunk, then remove branches from the base up as it grows, opening out the center and pushing growth out to the edges, resulting in a tree-like shape.
Many types of rhododendrons are tall and rangy enough to act as trees, with big heads of purple flowers in spring. Lilac, Syringa, is, of course, well-known for its fragrant purple spikes of blooms and, though naturally multi-stemmed, makes an upright small tree when trained to one trunk.
Butterfly bush, Buddleia, also has spikes of flowers in shade of lilac and purple and makes a fast growing, drought-tolerant shrub or tree. Many varieties of crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia, have purple flowers and hardier hybrids of this southern standby are now available.
Shrubby magnolias such as M. soulangiana often have rich purple saucer-type flowers and, when pruned as trees, can grow up to 25 feet. In warmer areas of the country, zones 8 and above, Texas Mountain Laurel, Sophora secundiflora, can be grown for its wisteria-like clusters of flowers and lacy evergreen leaves.
Magnolias of many species have flowers in shades of rose to purple. One variety of crabapple, 'Royalty,' also blooms in purple.
The Brazilian butterfly tree, Bauhinia, has pea-like purple flowers and is hardy to 22 degrees. Also for warmer areas, zone 7 and above, is the Chaste tree, Vitex, with lilac flowers in summer.
Redbuds, both the native Cercis canadensis and the slightly less hardy (zone 7) Chinese redbud, Cercis chinensis, have clusters of purple or purple-pink pea shaped flowers in spring. The Judas tree, Cercis siliquastrum, native to Europe and western Asia, also has purple flowers.
The Empress tree, Paulownia, is a fast growing, moisture loving tree, up to 50 feet tall, with clusters of 2-inch long, trumpet-shaped flowers in lilac blue.
Jacaranda, native to Brazil and hardy to 25 degrees, also has tubular lilac blue flowers in large clusters and is more drought tolerant.