Having a beautiful houseplant is like having a friend around the house. We decorate our homes with pretty flowering and foliage houseplants. Foliage plants can be just as eye-catching as flowering plants. Did you know that they could even have house plant with purple leaves as well?
Why Do Some Plants Have Purple Leaves?
Most plants that have purple leaves are tropical understory plants. Very little light reaches them in the jungle, blocked by the canopy of larger plants. The color purple absorbs more light than green.
These plants have the green-colored chlorophyll pigment in their leaves, but it is hidden by the high concentration of anthocyanin, a purple pigment.
This color also protects the leaves from sun damage. Some houseplant leaves are such a dark shade of purple that they look black, like the Midnight Fire pepper.
Do Houseplants With Purple Leaves Photosynthesize?
Since plants with purple leaves have chlorophyll, they photosynthesize even though we cannot see it. In fact, the purple pigment absorbs more light for the process of photosynthesis. That is why plants with purple leaves usually are shade tolerant.
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Why Is My Purple Houseplant Turning Green?
When your plant suffers from a mineral deficiency, that makes photosynthesis difficult. Houseplants with purple leaves shift to green leaf growth in these circumstances and demand more sunlight as a countermeasure. Usually, the richer your soil, the richer the purple color of the houseplant leaves will be.
They can also lose color if placed in direct sunlight for too long. Some plants, contrastingly, lose their color if they don’t get enough light. The bottom line is if your plant is comfortable, its color will remain vibrant.
List of Houseplants with Purple Leaves
Here is a list of houseplants with purple leaves. We have chosen many diverse, unique plants, so there is one for every plant lover. Go through it and select the ones most suitable for you.
1. Wandering Jew
Tradescantia zebrina is known as the wandering Jew because of its ability to spread over wide territories. It is also called spiderwort or the inch plant.
This ability is also why the slightly succulent perennial creeper can be hung high up in a room, so its foliage falls attractively.
The zebrina species has beautiful striped leaves and enjoys bright indirect sunlight. It needs rich loamy, well-draining soil and keeps well in temperatures between 50°F to 80°F.
You only need to give it half-strength fertilizer once a month. Only increase that if the leaves start to look greener, or the leaves might burn.
These plants hate being soaked or dried too long, so we encourage you to check the soil, so it remains lightly and evenly moist. This plant grows pretty fast, so have the trimming scissors handy.
2. Purple Passion Plant
Gynura aurantiaca is a beautiful evergreen perennial with fuzzy dentate leaves with purple edges. It can get 2 to four feet tall. This plant loves bright light but does not let it get direct sunlight. It likes the temperature between 60°F to 70°F.
Ensure that the soil is well draining to avoid root rot, and don’t let the leaves get wet since the hairs hold on to the moisture and start rotting.
You must water regularly during the growing season but reduce it during the winter. This gorgeous plant is nontoxic for children and pets.
3. Rattlesnake plant
The rattlesnake plant is native to South America but sometimes found in Hawaii, Florida, and California. It is known for its ornate long wavy leaves, green with black spots on top and purple underneath.
This evergreen perennial grows yellow flowers in the spring, but gardeners and houseplant enthusiasts cultivate it exclusively for the foliage.
These plants need slightly acidic, rich, moist, but well-draining soil. They grow well in partial or filtered sunlight. This plant needs heat and humidity to survive.
The temperature should stay around 60°F to 75°F and never below this, or the plant will wilt. You can place a tray with water under the pot with stones to prevent the pot from getting wet for humidity.
4. Purple Succulent
Echeveria, endearingly called the purple pearl plant, is a group of flower-shaped succulents. Our favorite varieties are the Echeveria afterglow, black prince, chroma, and Doris Taylor.
You can water your echeveria and forget about it until the soil is dry again. Treat it as you would any other succulent. These plants thrive on neglect, making them great for houseplant beginners.
When the echeveria stem grows very tall, you should behead the echeveria floret and place it on a pot for ten days to form new roots.
In the meantime, the stem will start growing fresh florets. If you are lucky, there might even be four or five. Do this in the summer to avoid any plant rot.
5. Purple Waffle Plant
Strobilanthes alternata is an herbaceous prostrate plant with crinkled, spiky oval green and purple leaves. In India, this plant is believed to help heal wounds faster. This slow grower doesn’t need much trimming, even though it resembles a creeper.
This one is the first plant we’ve mentioned that can bear full direct sunlight, but it also does well in partial shade.
Purple Waffles like their soil moist and slightly acidic, so it has to be well-draining. It would help if you fertilized it once a month to keep the leaves a pretty purple.
6. Purple Potato Vine
Sweet potato Vines come in numerous ornamental varieties with black, copper, red, and purple leaves. We recommend getting the sweet Carolina version for a lovely purple plant.
These plants produce edible tubers, but houseplant enthusiasts grow them for their pretty foliage. If you also have a kitchen garden, plant them outside too.
The vine can handle partial sunlight but prefers full sun. Do not let the soil go dry during the growing season.
Potato plants are annual, but if you wish to see yours next year, uproot the tuber before the winter and store it till next year. If you cut it into pieces, with each piece having an eye, you can propagate the plant.
7. Purple Oxalis
This wouldn’t be a post about purple plants without mentioning the ever-popular Oxalis. Oxalis triangularis, also known as false shamrock, is a perennial plant without a stem. It has leaves of three sessile leaflets growing out of a tuberous rhizome.
These plants love filtered light or partial shade. Loamy lightweight potting soil will be good enough for it. They do not like being overwatered since they’re susceptible to root rot. Oxalis need fertilizer once a month, and remove any dead leaves when you see them.
8. Rex Begonia
Begonias are great for beginner plant owners since they are pretty low maintenance. Rex Begonias have large remarkable colored heart-shaped dentate leaves.
Varieties like “firework,” “tornado,” or “red kiss “are purple. Begonias like to be watered sparingly, with the top couple inches of soil drying entirely between waterings.
The advised temperature range to keep rex Begonias is 65°F-75°F. They prefer humidity but can tolerate dry air fine.
Just know that the color of your rex will show up the most when the plant is most comfortable. Remember, these are toxic to your pets. Call a veterinarian if ingested.
9. Royal Flush Plant
Pleisopilos nelii, also known as the royal flush plant or split rock plant, is coveted for its purple coloring and unique appearance.
A healthy split rock has only two pairs of leaves. You water the plant in the late summer and fall but discontinue it during the winter. They need super well-draining soil, mostly made up of grit or vermiculite.
In the winter, new leaves grow from the center of the split and consume the old leaves. They must not be watered during this time because they will retain the old leaves and rot. A daisy-shaped flower grows out of the center of the split during the spring.
This plant is a conversation starter and a fantastic find for your succulent collection. Some might think it looks weird, but it seems cool to us.
10. Persian Shield Plant
Many people will say their favorite purple houseplant is the Persian shield plant, and we won’t disagree. Part of the group of florescent plants, the beautiful iridescent purple and green leaves are lovely to behold. The bottom part of the leaves is purely red-purple.
This tropical tender perennial cannot bear the cold but grows with a vengeance in the summer heat and humidity.
You might have to water it daily in the summer since it loves a good drink. Placing it in direct sunlight or not getting enough humidity can cause its color to fade.
The plant grows to become leggy and bends over, so prune it regularly to make it bushier and keep it straight.
11. String of Rubies
The string of rubies plant is an adorable trailing succulent with a red-purple stem and small oval bean-like leaves. The leaves are green but turn purple or red when the plant undergoes stress.
They come from a family of trailing succulents with siblings like the string of bananas or string of dolphins.
These plants need direct sun and a well-draining, slightly acidic cactus soil mix, perfect for a hanging pot near the window.
The string of pearls plant is drought tolerant like most other succulents and needs minimal watering once the soil has thoroughly dried. They do not need to be fed often, so a bit of fertilizer in a few months should be enough.
12. African Milk Tree “Rubra”
The African milk tree is an appealing tall cactus, and the Rubra variety has purple leaves. It is the perfect addition to your home for a corner with lots of bright sunlight.
Euphorbia trigona Rubra doesn’t like to be kept dry too long, unlike other succulents. You must check the dryness more often than your other cacti.
It’s called trigona because of its three spiked ridges. It has ovular leaves that fall when the plant is underwatered. Even without the leaves, it’s pretty, but it won’t remain a purple houseplant.
Coleus is a group of perennial herbs native to old-world tropical regions but grow well in the Florida climate. They can be kept indoors in cooler areas or apartments without gardens. They come in pink, orange, red, yellow, and purple leaf varieties.
If you want a deep maroon-purple, get “black dragon coleus” and “fishnet stockings coleus” is lime green and purple.
You should pinch the shoots of young coleus to make the plant more compact and bushy so it can show off its foliage. The soil should be moist with adequate draining, so the roots aren’t soaking wet.
They enjoy the partial shade, and you can fertilize them weekly with half-strength liquid fertilizer during their active growing period in spring and summer.
Calathea roseopicta comes in two common cultivars, one with variegated green leaves with purple bottoms, and the other, Dottie Calathea, has deep purple leaves.
Like many other houseplants with purple leaves, their natural habitat is under a thick jungle canopy. That means they deserve a nice shaded spot in your home with bright indirect light.
They need moist, well-draining soil and ample humidity. You can mist the plant once a day or place a water tray under the pot. This plant is known for its incredible air-purifying properties.
Like we need to learn more after seeing the beautiful foliage. It has purple flowers that some owners choose to pinch off, but they are still pretty to look at.
Usually, tropical shade plants and houseplants with purple leaves are an exciting addition to your plant collection. There is bound to be a plant you like in this list.
The purple-colored leaves will provide fantastic contrast to the rest of your green plants. There are succulent houseplants for beginners and fussier houseplants that more experienced plant owners can handle.
Beautiful luscious foliage like the Coleus or Rex Begonias or unique plants like the split rock plant for every kind of plant enthusiast. We hope we have helped you paint your home purple with your favorite plants!
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.