Anyone like purple foliage?

bahia(SF Bay Area)May 20, 2011

This is one of my favorite South African bulbs for both the interesting flower spike as well as the vivid purple foliage. It does tend to fade a bit from this deep purple color as it finishes blooming, but is a perfect accent/complement for Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' in a garden. The plant is Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy', and it is deciduous in winter, leafing back out again in April most years and blooming by mid to late June with the typical pineapple-like flower spike. The plants beyond it in this shot include Festuca ovina 'Elijah Blue', Allium unifolium, Echium gentianoides and Limonium perezii.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ecucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy'

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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

That is beautiful. I will have to look for that one.

However, I have so much non-green foliage in my garden I think I need to actually add some green!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 2:53PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

I do! That is beautiful.

One of my favorite recent finds is Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender'. Actually, it's the underside of the leaves that is dark purple, and the flowers are light lavender. It seems very tolerant of neglect... just sayin'.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 3:39PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Jenn, I like Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' as well, but it doesn't seem as tolerant of neglect in my garden as some of the other Plectranthus such as P. neochilus and P. zuluensis, which survive with dense shade or full sun, or almost no summer water when grown in shade. These two species bloom nearly all year round, with tons of flowers that don't need deadheading to continue blooming. Mona Lavender doesn't quite take that much abuse, and I wish it had a longer bloom season, as the other two varieties bloom nearly year round for me. I suspect that Mona Lavender has a longer bloom season down south or right along the coast, but it only blooms for about 6 weeks for me, in late October/early November, similar to Plectranthus ecklonii. If you like dark purple undersides of foliage, check out Stromanthe sanguineum and Hedychium greenii, which have extra height so that you don't have to plant on a slope to see the purple, once they get bigger.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 5:58PM
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Oh yeah! Love those eucomis! (Eucomi as a plural? Sounds better than eucomises. Latin was never my strong suit.) They look like they might get rather tall, though.
I'm very fond of burgundy/purple foliage, especially if I can pair it up with some chartreuse or pale green nearby. Am I the only one who grows "Bull's Blood" beets for their foliage?


    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 7:11PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Thanks bahia, I'll check those out. When I say "tolerant of neglect" I should say it survives... not that it looks good. :-) We recently transplanted it into a large pot and it's now in bright shade with regular care. I need to find a new spot for it in the garden.

Another plant I like with burgundy/purplish foliage is Salvia sinaloensis, a low-growing species with BRIGHT blue flowers above foliage w/ a purplish-burgundy tinge. One of my favorites and good also for pots.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 7:41PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I grow the regular eucomis lilies (ha- solved the plural problem) and I love them. The purple foliage really is over the top, though. So pretty. Great photo, Bahia.
Kay, thanks for the tip on beets. I like beet foliage.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 11:25PM
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Last year I dug up an old patch of Eucomis as I relocated a path. They were the regular green leafed variety. I potted them all up, and as they reappear this spring I am surprised that some have dark leaves. Now seeing these burgundy plants I can hardly wait to see if they will be this color. I have another patch growing that has spotted leaves. Al

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 8:56AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Doubtful Al,while regular forms of Eucomis autumnalis and E. comosa can both have purplish green foliage tints, E. comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy' was a seed selection made by Plant Delights Nursery back in 1983, and the origin of what we have in the California trade these days. Most E. autumnalis and E. comosa forms with somewhat purplish foliage still are more green than burgundy, and don't typically retain this deep color once they achieve full size. Monterey Bay Wholesale and San Marcos Growers are two sources for Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy' at more accessible prices than mail order via Plant Delights, and Suncrest sells a selected form of E. autumnalis with purplish green foliage that is quite nice and larger in size, to about 3 feet tall in bloom.

While I have never tried it, E. comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy' should be easy to propagate from leaf cuttings similar to the rest of the Genus, and this is probably why it is so readily available these days with a bit of determined searching. I've found that deer like to eat the flowers while in bud, and the color fades to a dull purple green once it starts flowering later in summer.

I wish more of the various Eucomis species were easily available, they are a wonderful group of plants for interesting form and foliage and long season of bloom interest. I used to have more varieties, but lost them to overcrowding over the years. If I remember correctly, I used to have Eucomis bicolor and E. autumnalis, both great planted in mass. Here's a link to a photo of E. autumnalis in mass bloom on African Hill up at the UC Berkeley Botanic Garden, planted with restios along a path:

Here is a link that might be useful: Eucomis autumnalis in bloom

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 11:59AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I'm linking to the Pacific Bulb Society's web page on Eucomis species if anyone is interested to know more. I had forgotten that Eucomis are typically fly pollinated and that E. comosa in the wild is known for the variability of foliage color from green to burgundy, with all forms showing a tendency for darker purple leaf color on the undersides. Leaves can be chopped up into 2 to 3 inch sections and stuck as leaf cuttings, they will form bulbils if kept moist and shaded.

Here is a link that might be useful: Eucomis species information

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 12:10PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

Oooh, instant plant lust!

Thanks, bahia, for once again providing an interesting thread.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 12:25PM
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I love purple foliage plants! Purple is my favorite color and I have several purple plants in my garden. My plants include: Wandering jew(Tradescantia zebrina), Purple Passion plant, "Blackie" sweet potato. Im looking for Purple Heart wandering jew and oyster plant.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pics of my plants

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 5:50PM
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I have several of these now and I just love the emerging foliage in the Spring. The flowers on Sparkling Burgundy are actually not as nice as say, those on autumnalis, since they tend to elongate and lose that small pineapple form.
I did find some deep purple Eucomis at Costco of all places and they are very close to type and a lot less than 12 buckos per bulb..

So far the gophers are leaving them alone...

I second the recommendations for the Pacific Bulb Society (PBS) you can lurk the email list for free, or become a member (like me) and get the NL and participate in seed and bulb exchanges.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 1:33PM
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