Native plants and the colour purple

When Pantone named Ultra Violet its “Color of the Year” 2018, native plants were way ahead of them. Pollinating bees and butterflies love the colour purple – because that’s how butterflies’ and bees’ eyes are made. So it’s unsurprising that many native plants can be found at this end of the spectrum. It’s especially true for fall plants striving for their kick-at-the-pollinating-can late in the season. It’s like they’re saying: Choose me, choose me!

Back in October 2017, the new plantings along lower Leslie Street were alive with all variations of ultra violet aka purple native flowers. These included new world asters (Symphyiotrichum spp), gayfeather or blazing star (Liatris spicata), ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata), hoary vervain (Verbena stricta) and coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).

What a lovely bouquet they made. Little did they know the’d be so trendy just a few months on.

Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata)
Hoary vervain (Verbena stricta)
Unknown species or cultivar of new-world aster (Symphiotrichum)
Ditto. What a great display!
Love this mass planting of gayfeather (Liatris spicata)
A closer look at the fireworks that show the stars in the common name blazing star.
Echinacea looking very pink. But with purpurea as the species name, I’ve put it in the ultra violet club.

Will you be growing the colour of the year this year? Or should I call it the colour of every year since they first evolved?


  1. Gorgeous colors and wonderful plants…I would love to grow the Hoary Vervain, but, I can’t get it to cooperate! Btw, this would be a great post for a Wildflower Wednesday! xogail

    1. Most of these natives aren’t for me, either, Gail, as they all prefer full sun and great air circulation – a prairie, for example. You anticipated me by only moments, as I was heading over to Clay and Limestone for Wildflower Wednesday as you wrote!

    2. Try lean soil…our garden soil can be way over abundant in compost and phosphorus from past fertilizing. I had great results with the hoary vervain from seed, but had to nurse it along, until I planted it in relatively unmodified soil also compare its pH needs with that of your soil, that is very important too. I always try to find photos and description of native habitat to find clues where it will do best in my garden.

  2. Love all these blooms. I grow most of them in my garden and the pollinators are very happy, especially late in the season as you point out. I have a Georgia aster which is also purple and covered in bees come November. Your photos of swaths of blooms are dreamy.

    1. I’m envious, Karin. In fall especially, I have to get my hits of swath in OPGs (Other People’s Gardens).

  3. Purple is my favorite color in the garden, so I’m glad to hear that pollinators are particularly drawn to it!

    I have a small field entirely devoted to willowleaf aster ‘Miss Bessie’, which has lavender purple flowers. It blooms during November when little else is blooming and the insects throng to it.

  4. I enjoyed seeing all that purple! My heart did a pitter patter when I saw the Liatris stand. I love it! I just have a few here and there. I did plant more last season, and hope they grow to a good size this season. I have a number of other purple blooming plants here as well. New England asters are always a favorite of the pollinators in the fall.

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