Favorite Purple Flowered Bulbs

In September 2004 the Pacific Bulb Society List topic of the week was favorite purple flowered bulbs. There was considerable discussion about what constituted purple that was never resolved so some plants were left out that might have been included. Some were excluded because they were considered magenta or lilac even though it was suggested to include any plants that were a color that was a mixture of red and blue. Others listed plants that some people think of as pink. So there could be favorites on the pink list that some might think belong on the purple list and vice versa. Participants mentioned the bulbs listed below as favorites. They are listed below alphabetically, sometimes with comments, followed by the name and the location of the person who named them as favorite, usually from experience growing them. If we have a picture of the plants mentioned on the wiki there is a link to that picture with the name of the photographer listed on the label of the picture.

Allium -- which offers many showy species, especially from Central Asia, in bright violet. (One illustrated from that area). Most of them are tall plants for the border, Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon.

Allium jesdianum angustitepalum, Mark McDonough

Alstroemeria philippii -- is truly gorgeous a small plant with large flowers of lavender boldly streaked in deep violet, Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon.

Alstroemeria philippii, Jane McGary

Babiana framesii -- long blooming, nice color, but hard to capture the color with a photograph, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Babiana framesii, Mary Sue Ittner

Brodiaea -- many nice ones including Brodiaea elegans -- rich shiny color Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California; Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon.

Brodiaea elegans, Bob Rutemoeller

Brodiaea pallida -- pale purple with a white center Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Brodiaea pallida, Bob Rutemoeller

Calostemma purpureum -- a true plum purple, Diana Chapman, Telos, Northern California.

Calostemma purpureum, Susan Hayek

Colchicum -- is one of my favorite plants, and sometimes they look purple, sort of... Jim Shields in central Indiana, USDA Zone 5.

Colchicum cilicicum, Arnold Trachtenberg

Crocus sativus -- and its relatives provide rather stingily a very good purple for the autumn. Jim McKenney, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7.

Crocus sativus, Arnold TrachtenbergCrocus cartwrightianus, Jane McGary

Crocus tommasinianus -- is rodent-resistant and has some very pretty varieties, Jim Shields in central Indiana, USDA Zone 5; Rich violets is available in clones such as 'Whitewell Purple'. Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon

Crocus tommasinianus, Jay Yourch

Crocus vernus -- several strong purple cultivars with big individual flowers are. Some of these have grown in my garden for between thirty and forty years without attention, Jim McKenney, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7. The shiny violet of big crocuses is found in some forms of Crocus vernus, which is not so showy, but less prone to flop over in bad weather. My favorite is one I bought under the name 'Haarlem Gem', Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon.

Crocus vernus ssp vernus, Arnold Trachtenberg

Dahlia -- purple, John E. Bryan.

Dahlia 'Purple Joy', Mary Sue Ittner

Dahlia 'Thomas Edison' -- a beautiful deep purple dahlia which is much more purple than shown, Susan Hayek, Northern California.

Dahlia 'Thomas Edison', Mary Sue Ittner

Delphinium -- species from California that are purple, although some are almost blue. Three candidates: Delphinium decorum, Delphinium hesperium, and Delphinium parryi (almost blue), Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Delphinium decorum, Mary Sue IttnerDelphinium hesperium, Mary Sue IttnerDelphinium parryi, Mary Sue Ittner

Dichelostemma congestum can also be a rich color, Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon.

Dichelostemma congestum, Bob Rutemoeller

Dierama -- a dark winey purple one Susan Hayek, Northern California.


Fritillaria -- I love the plants, but the modifiers "dusky," "brownish," and "muddy" are often used along with "purple" for these flowers. Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon

Fritillaria messanensis gracilis, Jane McGary

Geissorhiza -- Quite a few of these, if multi-colored can be included, these are stunning: Geissorhiza radians and Geissorhiza monanthos; Geissorhiza splendidissima and Geissorhiza heterostyla are both very beautiful too, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Geissorhiza radians, Bob RutemoellerGeissorhiza monanthos, Sheila BurrowGeissorhiza splendidissima, Mary Sue IttnerGeissorhiza heterostyla, Bob Rutemoeller

Gladiolus -- There are very handsome purple hybrid glads available now, Jim McKenney, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7.


Gladiolus caucasicuus and Gladilus imbricatus are probably my favorites, with G. communis, G. illyricus, and G. italicus following closely. Jim Shields in central Indiana, USDA Zone 5; also Diane Whitehead Victoria, British Columbia, Canada maritime zone 8.

Gladiolus communis ssp. byzantinus, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus illyricus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus italicus, Mary Sue Ittner

Hemerocallis -- We have some purple daylilies that we love very much that are a red-purple in general, but they photograph as red or dark red generally. Some good ones are 'Watership Down' and 'Mephistopheles', Jim Shields in central Indiana, USDA Zone 5.


Hyacinthus -- offer a few purple cultivars, too, although a comparison of the crocus purple and the hyacinth purple may get you thinking about just what this term purple means, Jim McKenney, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7.

Hyacinthus orientalis 'Ostara', Janos Agoston

Iris douglasiana -- long blooming in coastal Northern California, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Iris douglasiana, Manchester State Beach, Mary Sue Ittner

Iris latifolia -- the best "purple" in the bulbous irises, Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon


Iris Pacific Coast purple hybrids -- Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Iris Pacific Coast, Mary Sue Ittner

Iris reticulata -- "old original", which will stand in for all the wonderful purple iris. "Old original" also has the scent of Viola odorata, Jim McKenney, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7.

Iris reticulata, John Lonsdale

Iris unguicularis -- beautiful and blooms when a lot of other things are not in bloom, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Iris unguicularis, Bob Rutemoeller

Kaempferia rotunda -- flower is hardly purple, but there is a bit of purple in it. Although hardy near a wall here, it is better in a pot so it can be bought in and the fragrance appreciated -- Jim McKenney, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7.

Kaempferia rotunda, Alani Davis

Leucocoryne vittata-- I really love the intricate pattern of the flowers of this species and it is the one that I have the best luck getting to grow, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Leucocoryne vittata, Sheila Burrow

Moraea gigandra and Moraea loubseri do not bloom as long and the latter sometimes skips years, but when they do bloom they are both extraordinary with their gorgeous markings, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Moraea gigandra, Bob RutemoellerMoraea loubseri, Bob Rutemoeller

Moraea polystachya -- one of the first to bloom in fall and blooms for months with new flowers appearing all the time. Flowers are large with nice markings, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Moraea polystachya, Bob Rutemoeller

Triteleia bridgesii -- nice shiny center, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Triteleia bridgesii, Mary Sue Ittner

Triteleia laxa -- North Coast forms that are short and dark purple and 'Sierra Giant' with shiny petals and large flowers shiny center, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Triteleia laxa, Bob RutemoellerTriteleia laxa 'Sierra Giant', Nhu Nguyen

Tulipa -- red purple and a dull blue purple, Jim McKenney, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7.

Tulipa humilis, Arnold Trachtenberg

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Page last modified on May 20, 2016, at 07:45 PM