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Purple Leaf Plants Native to Arkansas

Several native Arkansas plants features rich, purplish leaves, which may offer ornamental variety to a garden with mostly green-leaved plants. Most of Arkansas' purple-leaf plants show their colors during the spring and summer, although one plant – weigela – continues its purple coloration into the autumn. For some of Arkansas' purple-leaf plants, full sunlight is necessary to get the maximum amount of purple in their leaves.

  1. Purpleleaf Sand Cherry

    • As its name implies, the purpleleaf sand cherry (Prunus cistena) has leaves with tinges of purple. Purpleleaf sand cherries have purple leaves during the late spring and summer; in the fall, these plants' leaves turn into a bronze-green color, but those in full sunlight retain their purplish color longer than plants in partial sunlight. Purpleleaf sand cherries are ornamental shrubs and grow up to eight feet when mature. For cultivation, these shrubs grow in full or partial sunlight and in moist or drought-tolerant environments. Purpleleaf sand cherries produce white-pink flowers in the spring.


    • Also, known as “Midnight Wine,” the weigela (Weigela florida) is a low-growing shrub – approximately two feet tall at maturity – that features burgundy-purple foliage in the spring and summer. During the fall, the weigela leaves transform into a dark purple color. An adult weigela's leaves are at least three inches long. Weigelas prefer to grow in well-drained soils and full sunlight. Although they grow better in full sunlight, weigelas will also tolerate partial shade. This native Arkansas shrub produces clusters of pink flowers in the spring.


    • Many horticulturists in southeastern states – including Arkansas – use the semi-evergreen nandina (Nandina domestica) for ornamental purposes. This plant is also known as “heavenly bamboo,” due to its cane-like stalks. Nandina plants grow between six to eight feet tall, in partial and full sunlight. Cultivators also grow miniature versions of nandinas known as “dwarf nandinas” that are approximately two feet tall. When new leaves arrive in the spring, nandinas have a reddish-purple appearance.

    Redleaf Japanese Barberry

    • The redleaf Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea) has a wide distribution in the U.S., from Wisconsin to Florida, including Arkansas. Redleaf Japanese barberries are able to grow in tough and moist soils; these plants prefer full sunlight since leaves will thin in partial shade. Also, partial shade affects the richness of the plant's reddish-purple foliage. Redleaf Japanese barberries have a high drought tolerance. These shrubs grow up to five feet and have a six-foot width.