Purple Heart

The flowers of purple heart are pretty in their own right, but it's the rich purple foliage that really steals the show

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Plant type: Herbaceous perennial
Hardiness: USDA Zones (7)8 to 11

The slender, folded leaves grow from upright to trailing, succulent stems in dense, spreading clumps to about 10 inches tall. Small, short-lived, pink blossoms occasionally appear at the stem tips, creating a perfect complement to the pinkish cast of the new shoots. Purple heart looks great year-round in mild climates. Elsewhere, frost will nip back the top growth, but the plants can resprout from the roots. Purple heart can survive the winter as far north as USDA Zone 6.

How to use it: Purple heart makes a can't-miss color accent in borders, planters and hanging baskets. Silver foliage and white or pink flowers are harmonious partners, while red, yellow and orange companions create a dazzling contrast. Purple heart is well suited for use as a groundcover. It can spread aggressively where it's hardy, so you may want to keep it in pots or in sites surrounded by paving. It also looks great as a houseplant.

Culture: A site with moist but well-drained soil and full sun is ideal, although purple heart also tolerates light shade. Pinch or snip off the shoot tips every few weeks to encourage branching. The pieces take root easily, so you can use the trimmed-off stem tips to start lots of new plants.

Special notes: For a plant that likes regular watering, purple heart is also drought-tolerant.

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