Plant & Flower Identification

Purple Leaf Plant Identification Method For Non-professional Gardeners

The world of plants is a mesmerizing realm filled with an astounding array of colors, shapes, and textures.

Among the myriad plant species, one fascinating leaves category stands out: Plant with purple leaves.

Purple leaf plants have captivated the attention of gardeners, horticulturists, and plant enthusiasts alike. So do you know how to make purple leaf plant identification?

What purple leaf plant names are there? And how to take care of them. Let’s explore the following with us.

What Are Purple Leaf Plants? 

purple leaf plant identification

The purple-leaf annual plants have dark leaves due to the increased concentration of anthocyanins in the foliage.

This pigment causes the leaves to turn purple from light purple to pale pink, burgundy, deep purple, amethyst, and deep purple, even almost black.

Vibrant purple foliage can also add bright color to your beautiful garden.

Some famous plants with long purple leaves in many gardens are Tradescantia pallida, Cordyline fruticosa, Strobilanthes dyerianus, etc.

To discover how to distinguish the leaves, please continue to explore this article.

Method of Purple Leaf Plant Identification 

The most straightforward approach is to inspect the purple leaves plant without any tools visually.

Purple leaves are uncommon among garden shrubs, ornamental plants, and houseplants, making them stand out uniquely.

Certain houseplants with purple foliage may exhibit dark purple leaves accompanied by green edges.

Additionally, some tropical plants display purple-colored leaves, and some varieties even possess variegated patterns of purple.

When identifying plants with purple foliage, it can be helpful to know that many purple-leaved varieties share the same leaf shape and size as their green-leaved counterparts within the same species.

This characteristic holds for plants like Cercis canadensis, which exhibits heart-shaped leaves similar to other Cercis or redbud varieties.

Similarly, Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) have palmate leaves with pointed lobes, like different palmate maple varieties.

Top 10 Most Popular Purple Leaf Plants in The World

small purple leaf plant

Cotinus Coggygria

Cotinus Coggygria adapts well to various climates, ranging from temperate to subtropical regions.

This plant species displays different colors, as you can have a Cotinus Coggygria tree with green foliage or one with entirely pink or purple leaves.

It has the characteristic of growing upright, meaning its development occurs vertically, and produces multiple stems throughout its life.

The species is found in different cultivated areas, with its leaves being purple and varying in length from 0.5 cm to 2 cm. In terms of its shape, it is oval.

Interestingly, its leaves do not always have the same color at different times of the year. They tend to turn yellow, orange, or reddish-purple when autumn arrives.

The color of the leaves, as well as their changes, will depend on the variations.

Japanese Maples

The name “Japanese Maples” originates from the fact that their leaves are infused with a reddish hue of purple.

Japanese Maples are small deciduous shrubs or trees with canopy-like shapes, delicate branches, and foliage.

The young trees have gray bark, while mature ones develop dark purple, fissured bark with concentric circles. The leaves of these trees are red-purple in spring, bronze in summer, and red in early winter.

The leaves are thin and palm-shaped with 5, 7, or 9 lobes, pointed tips, and serrated edges. When young, the upper surface of the leaves is light green, while the lower surface is chalky white.

As they transition into autumn, the mature leaves change from green to shades of orange, red, or purple before eventually falling off in winter.

Perilla (Perilla Frutescens Var)

Perilla is a herbaceous plant typically reaching a 0.5-1 meter height. It has an upright stem covered in hairs.

This purple leaf annual is oval-shaped leaves, pointed at the tip, with serrated edges. They come in shades of purple or green. The flowers of Perilla can be either white or light purple.

The most common variety of Perilla has green and purple leaf plant identification: green upper leaves and purple undersides.

It is often used as a fresh vegetable, served as a side dish with main meals. Additionally, two other varieties of Perilla are available in the market: green and red.

The red Perilla belongs to the Japanese Perilla variety, but both sides of its leaves are reddish-purple, and the edges are serrated.

Japanese purple Perilla has a distinct and fragrant taste, and its vibrant red makes it highly appealing. It also possesses excellent medicinal properties.

Hence it is often used to extract color for various food items. In addition, the Japanese use red Perilla to make a refreshing beverage with a unique sweet, tangy, delightful flavor.

Red Butterfly Wing

Originating from Brazil, Red Butterfly Wing, known as Oxalis in English, has a remarkably unique appearance. Its delicate leaves and charming flowers make it an ideal choice for indoor potted plants.

The small purple leaf plant’s triangular leaves fold up at night, which is the distinctive feature that makes it an intriguing plant to cultivate around the house.

Unlike most other plant species, Red Butterfly Wing has very few leaves, with only one leaf per branch or stem.

Moreover, these leaves are dark purple and divided into three balanced parts, resembling the leaves of a three-leaf clover.

At first glance, these leaves resemble the shape of butterfly wings in flight, which is why they are referred to as the Red Butterfly Wing.

Calathea (or Goeppertia)

Calathea, or Goeppertia, is a small-leaved plant belonging to the herbaceous bushy category and the Marantaceae family.

It originates from the tropical regions of South America and has a scientific name, Calathea medallion.

Like ginger plants, the stems and roots of Calathea are submerged underground, giving the impression of a lack of visible stem.

The height of the plant varies from 25 to 70 cm depending on its care and living environment.

Calathea is a popular purple-leaf plant outdoors with short, sturdy leaf stalks. The leaf blades are small, gradually tapering towards the tip, and have smooth margins without serrations.

The unique feature of this plant lies in its incredibly distinct and diverse patterns, along with the artistic arrangement of deep purple veins.

The underside of the leaves exhibits a reddish-purple color, while the upper surface is adorned with a combination of green and white patterns and veins.

Tradescantia Spathacea

Tradescantia Spathacea is a plant with a unique name, a symbol of love, happiness, and success. The leaves are green and have pink or purple veins. The wide canopy creates an eye-catching shape.

The stem is very short, about 30-50cm, and the leaves grow close to the ground. Leaves have no stalk, only a sheath, concave leaf blade, and oblong head.

Young leaves are green and hairy; they will turn purple-pink when they develop for about 3-4 days. The upper surface of the leaf is green; the lower surface is purple-red.

Tradescantia Pallida

Tradescantia Pallida is a herbaceous plant with a purple leafy plant.

It typically grows to about 15 cm tall and spreads up to 60 cm or more along walls if provided with suitable light, nutrition, and environmental conditions.

The stems of Tradescantia pallida are purplish-green and segmented, making it easy for them to root at these nodes.

The leaves of Tradescantia pallida consist of a short leaf sheath surrounding a broad leaf blade. The leaf blades range from 3 to 7 cm long and 1 to 3 cm wide.

The upper surface of the leaves displays broad silver-striped greenish-purple coloration, while the underside showcases a striking deep purple hue.

The leaf coverings are hairy, and the leaf margins are smooth.

Clusters of tiny flowers emerge at the tips of the plant’s stems. The flowers of Tradescantia Pallida have three petals that can be pink or red and measure 10-12mm in length.

They are fused into a 5-9mm long white tube with three round, broad sepals approximately 6mm long.

The flowers of Tradescantia Pallida also have three small bracts and three stamens with purple-colored hair-like structures.

Cordyline Fruticosa

Cordyline fruticosa is a plant belonging to the family Asparagaceae with a big purple leaf plant.

This species originates from Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea but was later brought by Polynesians throughout the Pacific region.

Nowadays, it is cultivated worldwide, especially in Australia and East Asia.

Cordyline fruticosa comes in various types, distinguished by the color of their leaves. Some have green foliage, while others feature reddish-purple upper leaves with green undersides.

There is also a type with completely red leaves. The most common variety is the one with deep red foliage resembling blood.

The leaves of Cordyline fruticosa are long and lanceolate, tapering to a sharp point. They are arranged in a tightly clasping sheath around the stem, with layers of overlapping leaves reaching up to the top.

Most leaves are around 30-50cm long, predominantly displaying a reddish-purple color.

The upper surface of the leaves is brighter and more vibrant than the lower surface. Notably, young leaves are a darker shade of red compared to mature leaves, which have a deep green color.

The leaf margins are smooth, without serrations, and the leaf blades appear glossy, with a single prominent midrib in the middle.

Berberis Thunbergii

Berberis Thunbergii, known as Barberry, is an evergreen or purple shrub native to Western Asia, although it is also found in Japan.

It reaches a maximum height of two meters, although leaving it at 1 meter and even lower is expected.

The branches have many simple or tridentate spines, and the leaves are small, 12-24mm long by 3-15mm wide, green or purple, depending on the cultivar.

But purple is almost dominant and more popular.

Strobilanthes Dyerianus

Strobilanthes dyerianus is a plant native to Myanmar. The plant has a beautiful leaf color, oval leaves, purple leaf blades, green veins, or purple-leaved plants depending on the variety.

The other makeup on the surface of the Strobilanthes dyerianus leaf blade is a silvery-white gloss that creates a lustrous color.

It is a blue or purple shrub in hot climates. It is grown annually in cooler temperatures and is even more popular as a houseplant because it tends to bloom in the winter.

It can grow well in containers or outdoor flower beds.

Purple Leaf Plant Care Tips 

small purple leaf plant

To take care of purple leaf flowering plants, we must pay attention to 5 main factors as follows:

Soil & Watering Needs

Considering its original source, this purple-leaf flowering plant can tolerate slightly humid conditions when watered.

However, since it is a succulent and not a cactus, it cannot withstand prolonged periods of drought.

Therefore, you need to maintain moderate soil moisture. During spring and summer, water regularly limits its growth potential.

However, ensure it doesn’t exceed 1 inch of water every six days or longer—especially during the summer.

Frequent watering for the purple leaf plant, when temperatures are high, will help maintain its structure and shape.

Always check if the top two inches of soil have completely dried before watering the plant again. Needless to say, you need a well-draining potting mix to prevent root rot.

If the plant starts to wilt, check the soil for moisture.

The best time to water the purple leaf plant is in the evening, which can be highly effective as the moisture absorption is at its highest. Most indoor plants thrive when the soil has good drainage.

In addition to providing a moist and fluffy soil layer, you should also consider adding perlite or pumice, as they are excellent for enhancing the soil’s moisture retention capacity.

Leaf Care

The tree develops the most vigorous branches and leaves in the new planting period. This will disperse the nutrient source, so pruning is essential.

Remove damaged, wilted, slanted leaves so the plant can focus its nutrients on developing main branches and healthy main trunks.


Although most purple-leaf plants perform photosynthesis to survive, they also require additional nutrients to support their growth processes.

The nutritious meal they need comes from fertilizers, which help keep the plants happy, healthy, and vibrant.

Indoor purple leaf plants generally thrive when fertilized with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer (Nitrogen – Phosphorus – Potassium).

These plants rely on nutrients from the soil in their pots and fertilizers to sustain themselves. The plants will wither and die without repotting or supplementing the soil with fresh nutrients.

If your plant is flowering, you can purchase a fertilizer with a high potassium content. If it is a foliage plant, you should fertilize with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer or use nitrogen-rich potting soil.

The plants also require essential trace elements, which can be supplemented by adding soil or fertilizers to ensure survival.

Dealing With Common Pests and Diseases

When newly planted, many trees have weak resistance because of changes in the living environment.

To limit pests and diseases, you must fertilize large and healthy trees, use biological products to kill plant pathogens, remove infected plants to avoid spreading to other plants, etc.

In addition, it should be noted that the time of planting trees is still fragile; all impacts on trees and the ground should be limited as much as possible.

If the plant shows signs of pests, such as powdery mildew, you should use alcohol to wipe the leaves and roots, then use organic drugs to control pests.

If the disease is severe, it is necessary to let the tree out and treat it.

Tips to Protect Purple Leaf Plant

When starting with a new purple leaf plant, many people struggle because they are unsure how to care for it and neglect to seek information properly.

This can result in ineffective care efforts. Therefore, it is essential to note the following:


Plants need water, but that doesn’t mean watering excessively is good for purple-leaf plants. Water is a vital nutrient for plants, and each plant has unique water requirements.

It is essential to water adequately without overwatering, which can lead to root rot and plant damage.

The ideal time for watering is early morning or late afternoon when the temperature is more relaxed. There is no need to water excessively for indoor plants; flooding every two days is typically sufficient.


The plant needs fertilization immediately after planting to promote rapid and healthy growth.

Fertilizers provide essential nutrients to the plant, influencing its development and productivity during harvest.

The appropriate fertilizer formula depends on the plant species and growth stages.

Avoid over-fertilization, as it can cause burning and plant death, and under-fertilization can result in nutrient deficiencies, stunted growth, and delayed development.


Use a sterilizing agent on the pot and replace the soil if you notice any signs of infection or disease symptoms to prevent reinfection of your plant.

You can add garden charcoal to the pot to improve drainage, especially if the roots show signs of rotting.


Before starting to plant something, it is essential to do thorough research.

Especially for ornamental plants with purple leaves, you should find a way to make purple leaf plant identification look like a bonsai.

Regardless of the type of tree, you need to remember that our primary goal is to create conditions for the tree’s roots to grow as strong and fast as possible.

This will help the tree to stand and support the development of branches, buds, and leaves.

This article will provide you with excellent knowledge about purple leaf plants, making it easier for you to grow this ornamental plant.

Samuel Mark

Hello I am Samuel. Samuel's Garden is a garden blog where I share my experiences in garden caring and tree growth. Hope you enjoy it!

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