Mother Nature has created quite the pallet for us. I’m often amazed by the vast variety of colors and textures available for landscape designers to “paint” with. Tradescantia pallida ‘Purpurea’, common name ‘Purple Heat’ possesses those deep texture and color qualities that stick to the memory once experienced.
Tradescantia pallida is a Mexican native perennial which grows to roughly 1’ hgt. and 2’-4’ width. The deep purple succulent stems spread and criss-cross to a terminus of elongated purple leaves with faint splashes of turquoise. Few perennials claiming a ‘purple’ color truly compare to the Purple Heart.
The plant is know to be quite tough, tolerating full sun and some shade, and has even had success as a house plant. Water needs are minimal, and is cold hardy around 20 Degrees F. Although a native to the gulf coast of Mexico, Purple Heart will do well in zones 12-24, offering a great plant option to several areas. It can easily be propagated to add to other planting areas but will spread, so if you’re looking to contain it to a specific area, it will need to be cut back. But if contained in a pot, it will drape over the sides, and with a contrasting pot color, create a dramatic effect.
With its rich, deep purple color, Purple Heart is a killer compliment to greenish-blue tones of certain Agaves and other succulents. Compared to the bold texture of a large Agave, the finer texture of the Purple Heart is a great groundcover choice. Another great use is in hanging pots. Use a series of them in a row and the plant will create a cascading shade of purple. Depending on your homes exterior color, this could offer a unique look.
Let us know about your success or unsuccessful use of Tradescantia pallida, or suggestions/questions about it’s design application in the landscape.