Purple Passion

June 29, 2018

By: Barb Holtz

I have an affinity for purple blossoms. My favorite flower list is topped with blooms large and small but all purple, blue or something in between. Red is regal, yellows bright as the sun, white leaves me wanting and pink is pretty.  But purple simply speaks to my soul.

The prairie palette is decidedly purple in early June. Blue False Indigo, Northern Blue Flag and Ohio Spiderwort surprise us tucked among last year's brown stems and burgeoning green basal leaves. These species herald the parade of colors yet to come. It's the start of the prairie parade!

Wild Blue IndigoWild Blue Indigo

Blue False Indigo (Baptisia australis) acts more like a shrub than a wildflower.  Given the patience needed to establish, this soft-stemmed perennial "bushes out" to fill a space with purple abundance. A member of the legume family, Blue False Indigo is not only beautiful, but has coveted nitrogen-fixing abilities. A friend to all pollinators, this densely flowered plant blooms spring through summer.

Ohio Spiderwort

Ohio Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohioensis) is in my top three most favorite plants. Interesting flower, spiky leaf and color that won't quit. Blooming before competition from taller neighbors begins, Ohio Spiderwort blooms until temperatures turn overly warm. It is easily divided once established to share the wealth in other areas of your landscape or with friends. A curious aside is the claim that Tradescantia flowers detect low levels of radiation when blooms turn from blue to pink.

Northern Blue Flag Iris

Northern Blue Flag (Iris versicolor) is perfect for the wetter areas in your landscape. If conditions are right, this plant can work to alleviate troublesome damp places by aiding water percolation into the soil. Personally, I am a sucker for anytime purple and yellow are juxtaposed. The bright lavender "flags" against the yellow throat of the blossom is stunning. The deeper purple veins signal like runway lights for pollinators to enter the nectar and pollen hub. I herald native plants for their environmental and economic qualities but the beauty they bestow is truly nature's masterpiece.