Like Pam of Digging, I’ve also admired the landscaping at the North Star Home Center in Austin. I live near this commercial site and drive by often. I greatly appreciate that the owners of the property chose xeric, mostly regional plants to landscape with, rather than the typical needy and boring turf. I’ve long admired the combination of the deep purple of the Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) combined with the blue-green of the Agave and Sotol in that garden. It is a stunning contrast. Inspired by the beauty of this commercial garden, I planted an Agave (Agave americana) in concert with a long-established group of Purple Heart.
This area is part-shade, so the Purple Heart doesn’t bloom much and the Agave will be slower growing than in full sun. The tree that shades the spot is in decline, so I expect in the next few years to have more sun in this spot.
In Pam’s post, the Purple Heart is in full sun. In my gardens there are six areas where Purple Heart is planted and all are part to full shade. It’s a very versatile ground cover. It’s especially nice planted with evergreens such as Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) and Giant Lirope (Lirope muscari).
It tends to bloom more with more sun and sometimes has a tinge of green in the leaves. In shade it remains a deep purple, usually with a few blooms and attendant bees.
Purple Heart can be a bit invasive, so in a cultivated garden, one must take a shovel or sharpshooter to it from time-to-time to keep it in bounds.
Purple Heart dies to the ground with the first freeze, but in Central Texas, it is root hardy. In northern climates, it can be grown as a container plant. It is not deer resistant.
Purple Heart is a native to Mexico and an extremely tough plant–it works well in most soil types and with minimal irrigation. It is a beautiful foliage ground cover that adds color to any garden. It’s an easy pass-along plant. So find a gardening friend who has Purple Heart, snip a branch or two, stick in the ground and enjoy for years to come.