16 Beautiful Shrubs With Purple Flowers

Purple is one of the most popular colors in the world (though it tends to be a bit more favored by women surveyed than by men). It’s also one of the most impactful hues that’s relatively easy to incorporate into the home garden.

There are plenty of shrubs with purple flowers to choose from and you can accomplish all kinds of styles — from cottage-inspired to very formal — by using varying shades in your design. 

In this article, we’ll explore some of the different shrubs with purple flowers available and how best to utilize them in the landscape.

Types of Flowering Shrubs

Few things are bigger let-downs than a garden that only blooms for a week or two out of the whole year. For maximum impact, I highly recommend planting flowers that bloom at staggered times in spring, summer, and even fall. This will ensure you always have a lush garden ready to enjoy throughout the peak growing season!

When selecting flowering shrubs, pay attention to when and how long each variety is likely to bloom. Then, use these qualities to create a garden design map that will be both balanced and ever-changing.

Early Bloomers

Early bloomers are usually those that flower in the first part of spring. Some even flower before spring has technically begun, long before most other plants are actively growing.

I like to make sure every major part of my garden has at least one early bloomer to ring in the new season. For those of us gardening in cooler climates, these shrubs provide much-needed reminders that winter doesn’t last all year!

Another boon of early-blooming shrubs is that they provide a key nectar source for pollinators that are themselves coming out of winter slumber.

Mid-Season Bloomers

Mid-season bloomers make up the bulk of most home landscapes. These plants flower anytime between late spring and the end of summer. 

Most will flower for several consecutive weeks, as long as conditions are good. Others put out displays at the beginning and end of the mid-season period when temperatures are decidedly warm but not too hot.

You’ll probably want to plant more mid-season bloomers than anything else. This is easy to do, though, since most popular shrubs fall into this category. If you want to get particularly granular, you can even plan out your garden design based on the exact month in which certain mid-season plants tend to flower.

Late Bloomers

Late bloomers round out the year by extending your garden’s display well into fall. Many late-blooming varieties will continue flowering up until the year’s first frost.

Depending on your climate, late-blooming shrubs can be somewhat rare. If your fall garden is looking a bit sparse, I strongly encourage you to add some annuals or tender perennials to fill the gaps. Chrysanthemums and asters are two of my favorites for this purpose.

Similar to early-blooming shrubs, late bloomers often provide food to birds, insects, and other critters preparing for the winter.

16 Bushes and Shrubs With Purple Flowers

Color is a powerful tool in all design practices. While artists can usually create any shade imaginable using the pigments at their disposal, we gardeners have to rely on Mother Nature to fill the gaps in our color palettes.

If your garden could use a splash of purple to balance it out, there are plenty of good options to choose from. This list will introduce you to some of the best purple-flowered shrubs (both classic and rare or unique) and how to cultivate them for the best results.

1. Common Lilac

Common Lilac

Syringa vulgaris

  • Type: Deciduous shrub
  • Hardiness: 3 to 7
  • Bloom Time: Early

I can’t in good faith start this list with anything but the common lilac. This shrub’s flowers are so iconic that a whole shade of purple is named after it! It’s also one of the most beloved botanical fragrances in much of the world.

In my area, you can rest assured that spring has arrived when the lilacs start to bloom. Common lilacs are old-fashioned and, nowadays, often passed up in favour of specific varieties such as the blue flowering shrub of the Wedgewood Blue Lilac. But I still think there’s value in planting this shrub, especially for gardeners in more frigid regions.

2. Yankee Doodle Lilac

Yankee Doodle Lilac

Syringa vulgaris ‘Yankee Doodle’

  • Type: Deciduous shrub
  • Hardiness: 2 to 8
  • Bloom Time: Early to mid-season

If you want something a bit different than the common lilac, Yankee Doodle is a variety with strikingly dark purple blossoms. It has slightly improved hardiness compared to the original and also blooms a bit later in the year. Flowers can last for up to a month.

Yankee Doodle lilacs tend to have upright growth habits and can look quite elegant in groups or alone. The flowers are also just as fragrant as you’d expect from any lilac (I recommend cutting some to bring the aroma indoors as well).

3. Sensation Lilac

Sensation Lilac

Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’

  • Type: Deciduous shrub
  • Hardiness: 3 to 7
  • Bloom Time: Early

Though there are dozens of great options to choose from, the last lilac cultivar I want to highlight here is Sensation. This particular variety definitely stands out from other lilacs due to its white-edged petals.

As far as lilacs go, Sensation is a mid-spring bloomer. You can pair it with varieties that flower both earlier and later in the year to extend the normally short-lived lilac season. 

4. Purple Queen Bougainvillea

Purple Queen Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea spectabilis ‘Moneth’

  • Type: Evergreen shrub
  • Hardiness: 10 to 11
  • Bloom Time: Mid-season

Bougainvillea shrubs are available in tons of vibrant colors, with Purple Queen being one of the very best varieties of plum tones. These plants aren’t very cold hardy, so are best grown in tropical and subtropical climates. You can also plant Bougainvillea as short-lived annuals in colder areas.

Something many gardeners don’t realize is that the bougainvillaea petals we see are actually bracts or modified leaves. But that doesn’t take away from their beauty. This shrub can bloom almost year-round in particularly warm climates.

5. Poseidon Rose

Poseidon Rose

Rosa sp. ‘KORfriedhar’

  • Type: Deciduous shrub
  • Hardiness: 6 to 10
  • Bloom Time: Mid-season

I’m a sucker for roses, and Poseidon (also sold under the name Novalis) is a striking floribunda cultivar with large, double-petaled blossoms that repeat throughout the season. It boasts a shade of lavender not often seen in garden roses alongside a lovely mild fragrance.

Poseidon is compact for a rose bush, growing just a few feet tall and wide. This makes it ideal for containers as well as landscape applications. 

By the way, I know some gardeners are hesitant about adding roses to their repertoire due to their finicky reputation. Poseidon is a very healthy plant with good disease resistance.

6. Koko Loko Rose

Koko Loko Rose

Rosa sp. ‘WEKbijou’

  • Type: Deciduous shrub
  • Hardiness: 6 to 10
  • Bloom Time: Mid-season

It might seem like an odd choice at first glance but I really wanted to include the Koko Loko rose in this list of purple-flowered shrubs. Yes, each Koko Loko blossom starts out a pale tan colour. Over the lifetime of the flower, however, the petals transform into a lush shade of lavender!

Koko Loko blooms throughout summer, so it’s very likely you’ll experience several flowers of various colour stages at any given point. It can grow up to 4 feet tall and wide, making a big impact in a front landscape bed or formal rose garden.

7. Chaste Tree

Chaste Tree

Vitex agnus-castus 

  • Type: Deciduous shrub or tree
  • Hardiness: 5 to 9
  • Bloom Time: Mid-season

The chaste tree is a lesser-known deciduous tree or shrub with spikes of purple or blue flowers. It’s loved by pollinators of all kinds, especially bees, but can be a tad invasive in certain climates.

Chaste trees are generally hardy in USDA Zones 6 to 9. Some gardeners are able to grow them further north as well, but it’s common for the stems to die back to the ground in such environments. 

Routine pruning can greatly reduce the invasive nature of this attractive tree. I still recommend looking up its status in your specific area before planting it, however, lest you accidentally introduce it where it can do significant damage.

8. Daphne

Daphne

Daphne spp.

  • Type: Deciduous or evergreen shrub
  • Hardiness: 4 to 9
  • Bloom Time: Early

Shrubs in the Daphne genus can be either deciduous or evergreen, but they all boast attractive flowers commonly found in shades of pink, lilac, and fuchsia. Daphne shrubs are quite hardy but also slow-growing, so not all gardeners have the patience required for them to reach their full potential.

You might wonder why daphne shrubs aren’t more popular considering their sheer beauty. Unfortunately, all parts of the plant are moderately toxic. The red berries are particularly attractive to children and some pets, so think carefully before adding this particular purple-flowered shrub to your home landscape.

9. Double Purple Althea

Double Purple Althea

Hibiscus syriacus ‘Ardens’

  • Type: Deciduous shrub
  • Hardiness: 5 to 8
  • Bloom Time: Early

Known by a handful of names, the double purple althea shrub is a compact variety of hardy hibiscus or rose of Sharon. It has lush violet flowers that look a bit like tissue paper with their dense petals.

Although each blossom only lasts about a day, double purple althea will bloom continuously from early summer to fall. 

This shrub is a good option for gardeners in moderately cold climates. It’s reliably hardy up to USDA Zone 5 and down to Zone 8. You may be able to grow it in Zone 4 with careful site selection and adequate protection during the winter months.

10. Catawba Rhododendron

Catawba Rhododendron
Image by David J Stang Cc 4.0

Rhododendron catawbiense

  • Type: Evergreen shrub
  • Hardiness: 4 to 8
  • Bloom Time: Mid-season

The Catawba rhododendron, also sometimes called the purple rhododendron, is a tough shrub native to the Appalachian Mountains in North America. It has attractive purple flower clusters and thick, evergreen foliage. 

Like other rhododendron species, this specimen will thrive in partial shade and loves acidic soils. According to North Carolina State University, it needs consistent moisture to remain healthy, so plan to re-mulch the area around the shrub every year.

Though not extremely common in nurseries and greenhouses, this is a great native alternative to other rhododendrons and azaleas (assuming you’re in the United States) if you can get your hands on it.

11. Golden Dewdrops

Golden Dewdrops

Duranta erecta

  • Type: Evergreen shrub
  • Hardiness: 10 to 11
  • Bloom Time: All

One of my absolute favorite stunners for annual containers is Duranta erecta, aka golden dewdrops. This is a small tree native to the tropical climates of Central and South America. It is often sold as an annual in cooler climates, though you might find it sold as a perennial in Zones 10 and 11.

Golden dewdrops can grow up to 20 feet tall in ideal conditions but tend to be much smaller in cultivation. It’s possible to prune and/or train this plant into a shrub shape as well.

Golden dewdrops get their name not from the purple and charmingly small flowers but from the yellow-orange berry clusters that follow. The fruit ripens in late summer and is extremely attractive to foraging birds. Just keep in mind that the berries are toxic to people and pets.

12. Miss Violet Butterfly Bush

Miss Violet Butterfly Bush

Buddleja x ‘Miss Violet’

  • Type: Deciduous shrub
  • Hardiness: 5 to 9
  • Bloom Time: Mid-season

There are admittedly several varieties of butterfly bushes with purple flowers. Miss Violet is a tried and true variety recommended highly by gardeners, including myself.

These low-maintenance shrubs are extremely popular in part because they attract butterflies and a range of other desirable insects. However, if your goal is to support local pollinators, you’ll likely see even better results by planting some native species as well.

One of the greatest things about Miss Violet is that it is a sterile variety (it doesn’t produce viable seeds). While some butterfly bush cultivars can become invasive in certain habitats, there’s little chance of that happening with this one!

13. Deep Purple Hydrangea

Deep Purple Hydrangea

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Deep Purple

  • Type: Deciduous shrub
  • Hardiness: 5 to 9
  • Bloom Time: Mid-season

Many hydrangeas will turn purple when grown in the right soil conditions (namely, a soil pH that hovers around 6.0). But some cultivars are more apt to rich purple hues than others.

Deep Purple is a stunning but relatively rare variety with rich blue-purple flower clusters. The flowers start out a shade of light green and gradually transition as the season progresses, which I personally think adds even more interest to this unique shrub.

14. Royal Purple Smoke Bush

Royal Purple Smoke Bush

Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple

  • Type: Deciduous shrub
  • Hardiness: 4 to 10
  • Bloom Time: Mid-season

Royal Purple is a popular variety of smoke bushes (or smoke trees) with dusty purple foliage and lavender flowers and seed heads. The flowers are very interesting in terms of form, giving the entire plant a smokey appearance when viewed from a brief distance.

This shrub has impressive cold and heat tolerance, making it appropriate for landscapes in USDA Zones 4 to 10. Full sun exposure is recommended for optimal color and health. 

Smoke bushes are overall low maintenance and make excellent hedges or privacy screens. 

15. Thunberg’s Lespedeza

Thunberg’s Lespedeza
Image by Wolfgang Meinhart, Hamburg Cc 3.0

Lespedeza thunbergii

  • Type: Deciduous shrub
  • Hardiness: 4 to 8
  • Bloom Time: Late

Also known as bush clover, this shrub is native to parts of China and Japan. It has long been used as an ornamental in the United States and similar climates around the world but has the potential to be invasive in some of these areas.

This shrub has an elongated, draping habit that perfectly shows off the pea-shaped pinkish-purple flowers. It typically blooms in late summer or even fall, which differentiates it from many other brightly colored shrubs in the home garden.

Thunberg’s lespedeza will thrive in full or partial sun and is very drought tolerant. It’s a viable option for low-quality soils that may not support some of the other varieties featured on this list.

16. Hebe

Hebe

Hebe spp.

  • Type: Evergreen shrub
  • Hardiness: 7 to 11
  • Bloom Time: Mid-season or late

Hebe is a hardy, colorful shrub that requires minimal care in warmer climates. There are dozens of species within the Hebe genus, several of which have attractive purple flower spikes.

Most species of Hebe have mounded growth habits that reach only a few feet tall and wide. These flowering shrubs make nice low-growing hedgerows but can also be planted as individual specimens.

You can grow Hebe in the landscape or in large outdoor containers. Be sure to select a site with full sun exposure and good drainage. Once established, you can more or less leave these shrubs to their own devices.

FAQs Purple Shrubs

What is the shrub that has purple flowers in spring?

If you stumble upon a fragrant shrub covered in early-blooming purple flowers, there’s a very good chance it’s a type of lilac. (Lilacs can also be white, pink, or blue.) Lilac shrubs are especially popular in cooler climates. Many people claim the distinctive fragrance is their favorite of all flowers!

Citations

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.