Although experts can’t agree on a name for purple heart they do agree that it is one of the toughest plants for the South. Give it high heat and humidity with little rain and it survives. Its drought resistance makes it a great container plant or ground cover for one of the difficult areas where little else will survive. Plant it on a dry slope or where it will be damaged by man or beast and it will still thrive. And it’s not just its toughness that makes it a desirable garden plant; its purple foliage makes other colors pop. Plant it with chartreuse ‘Margarita’ sweet potato vine, yellow or orange marigolds, or pink petunias and enjoy the feast of color. Purple heart is very easy to grow and propagate. In times of drought it appreciates a good soaking once a week (but will rot if over watered.) As the plant spreads during the summer cut off some stems and put them in the soil where you want to start new plants and you will soon have a large bed of purple heart. In zones 7 and warmer you can expect it to return year after year; in colder zones take a few plants indoors to provide a source of cuttings for the following year.

Type: Tender perennial often grown as annual

Bloom: Small pink flowers in summer through fall

Foliage: Long, fleshy trough-shaped purple leaves or borne on brittle, lax stems.

Size: 8-10” H x 16-22” W

Light: Full sun to part shade

Soil: Average, well-drained

Fertilizer: Apply complete liquid fertilizer twice during growing season

Hardiness: Zones 7-10

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: None of significance but root rot can be a problem in areas of high moisture

Propagation: Cuttings-place stem cuttings with at least two joints in potting medium.

Companion plants: Lantana, marigolds, petunia, small daylilies such as ‘Steel de Oro’, ‘Margarita’ sweet potato vine

Plant profiles pointer

By Karen