Purple flowering trees are all the rave right now, but true purple flowering trees are few and far between. Many are more fuchsia, purple-pink, or violet-blue. Regardless of the semantics of color, they are stunning trees that will add beauty to your spring and summer landscape.
I found seven true and nearly purple flowering trees for you. Some are better adapted to the cooler northeast, while others are more adapted to the warmer southwest.
Either way, no matter which planting zone in Kentucky you live in, you will find gorgeous purple-flowering trees you can grow in Kentucky.
7 Purple Flowering Trees That Will Grow in Kentucky
1. Muskogee Crape Myrtle – Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Muskogee’
Muskogee Crape Myrtle is a unique variety of the ever-popular Crape Myrtle with beautiful lavender-purple flowers that will bloom for an astonishing 4 – 6 months, depending on the location and the year.
This fast-growing tree will grow as a small single-trunked or multi-trunked tree, quickly growing to its mature height to fill your yard with beauty and color.
Muskogee Crape Myrtle trees are best grown in full sun in any well-drained soil. They are highly adaptable, drought-tolerant, and resistant to the powdery mildew that can plague other Crape Myrtles in humid climates like Kentucky.
These drought-tolerant trees will not need irrigation anywhere in Kentucky once they are fully established (1 – 2 years), making them suitable for xeriscaping.
Other Common Names: Purple Crape Myrtle
USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 9
Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 30 ft tall, 10 – 15 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Showy flowers bloom from June to September; berry-like fruits mature in fall
2. Ann Magnolia – Magnolia x ‘Ann’
Ann Magnolia is a gorgeous hybrid cross between a Lily Magnolia and a Star Magnolia that produces big, beautiful, reddish-purple, tulip-like fragrant flowers that bloom later than many magnolias so that you don’t have to worry about those pesky late spring frosts damaging your flowers.
These trees also sporadically bloom again in mid-summer, contrasting nicely with their now dark green leathery leaves.
Ann Magnolia’s compact size makes it suitable for small gardens, where you can train it into a small shrub or informal hedge or let it grow to its own natural beauty.
These low-maintenance, adaptable trees can also thrive without irrigation, once established, in all but the hottest and driest summers.
Ann Magnolia should grow well anywhere in Kentucky in any moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil. It is a good idea to mulch the root zone to keep it cool and moist in the summer.
Other Common Names: N/A
USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 9
Average Size at Maturity: 10 – 15 ft tall, 10 – 12 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Showy flowers bloom from April to May and again in mid-summer; cone-like fruits mature in early fall
3. Common Lilac – Syringa vulgaris
Of course, I have to mention the lovely Common Lilac. This classic beauty has been overlooked in recent years, but if you want some gorgeous, fragrant, lavender-purple flowers, then I highly recommend this tree.
Those gorgeous flowers will attract countless bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators to your yard in search of that classic lilac scent.
Common Lilacs are very cold-hardy, tolerating freezing winds so well they can be used as a beautiful windbreak. They will grow in virtually any soil, including extremely wet or dry, although they prefer medium moisture. In Kentucky’s humid summers, they can be grown without any irrigation once established.
Their only weakness is heat. Since southwestern KY is already at its upper USDA Planting Zone limit, it might be best to avoid direct south-facing afternoon sun.
Check out how to identify Common Purple Lilac for more information.
Other Common Names: Lilac, Common Lilac
USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 7
Average Size at Maturity: 8 – 15 ft tall, 6 – 12 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Flowers bloom from mid to late spring; dry capsular fruits mature in late summer
4. Azurri Blue Satin® Rose of Sharon Althea Tree – Hibiscus syriacus ‘Marina’
The Azurri Blue Satin Rose of Sharon Althea Tree has gorgeous violet-blue flowers with a contrasting purple-to-red radiating color pattern near the center that makes the whole flowers look somewhat purple, so I thought I would include it here.
These versatile small trees are so compact that they can be used in a pot on your patio to enjoy the blooms closeup or planted as an accent tree in your garden or entrance way; the options are limitless.
The Azurri Blue Satin Rose of Sharon is also easy to grow in literally any soil type, including clay. However, full sun is very important to ensure your tree will bloom. While they prefer medium moisture, they are also quite drought-tolerant once they are established.
These adaptable, low-maintenance trees will grow well anywhere in the state of Kentucky.
Other Common Names: N/A
USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 9
Average Size at Maturity: 8 – 10 ft tall, 4 – 6 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Showy flowers bloom in July and August; seed pods mature mid-fall to early winter
Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees
5. Eastern Redbud – Cercis canadensis
The Eastern Redbud isn’t exactly purple, but it can be purplish-pink, and it’s a gorgeous native Kentucky tree worth mentioning. It already thrives throughout KY as a small understorey tree in forest edges or full sun in any moist but well-drained soil.
These trees make a lovely addition to a flowering tree collection because they will always be the first to bloom, their pretty pea-like flowers covering their bare branches before anything else wakes from its winter slumber.
Then, when your other pretty purple-flowered trees start to bloom, this little beauty will have filled out its beautiful heart-shaped leaves that make for a nice small shade tree.
Eastern Redbud is an extremely popular landscaping tree that is urban tolerant and widely planted as street and accent trees in cities, towns, and residential areas across the country.
For more information, check out how to identify the Eastern Redbud in its natural habitat.
Other Common Names: American Redbud, Redbud
USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 9
Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 30 ft tall, 15 – 35 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Flowers bloom before the leaves emerge between March and April; legumes mature from late summer to early fall
6. Chaste Tree – Vitex agnus-castus
Chaste Tree is a gorgeous small tree with purple lilac-like flowers that can bloom all summer long, providing non-stop color for your summer landscape.
These are heat-loving trees that will perform best in full sun in Kentucky. They are highly adaptable to any acidic to slightly alkaline soils that are average, moist, or dry but must be well-drained. Avoid overly rich soils that can hold too much moisture and encourage the roots to rot.
In Kentucky, the moderately drought-tolerant Chaste Tree should not require any irrigation once it is established.
Chaste Tree’s weakness, however, is cold. They can grow as small trees in southwestern KY, where the winters are milder. You can also grow them in the rest of KY if given winter protection. Alternatively, without protection, they will simply die back to the ground but grow back each spring as a perennial shrub rather than a small tree.
Other Common Names: Lilac Chaste Tree, Chaste Berry, Monk’s Pepper Tree, Vitex, or Wild Lavender Tree
USDA Growing Zones: 7 (6 with protection) – 9
Average Size at Maturity: 8 – 20 ft tall, 5 – 20 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Flowers first appear in June and continue until September; berry-like drupes ripen in the fall
7. Butterfly Bush – Buddleja davidii
I include the Butterfly Bush not to encourage you to grow it but to caution you about it. These shrubs have been extremely popular in recent decades, with numerous beautiful cultivars available.
However, it is incredibly invasive. All across North America, I have seen this escape cultivation and dominate disturbed areas and roadsides, even out-competing other invasive species.
It has already escaped cultivation in Kentucky, and it will continue to spread.
Moreover, despite all the hype, the Butterfly Bush should never be planted in a butterfly garden. Since they are not native, they are not hosts to the caterpillars of our native butterflies. The nectar-rich flowers simply attract them and distract them from the native species that will host their offspring, therefore reducing their ability to reproduce.
Other Common Names: Butterfly bush, Summer lilac, Orange eye, also in Latin as Buddleia davidii
USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 10
Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 12 ft (to 15 ft) tall, 4 – 15 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Showy flowers appear from mid to late summer, sometimes blooming till the first frost; capsular fruits mature from September to October
Table Comparing Kentucky’s Purple Flower Trees
Here is a detailed table comparing purple flowering trees in Kentucky, including their flowering time, average size and USDA growing zones.
|Tree Variety||Description||USDA Growing Zones||Average Size at Maturity||Flowering / Fruiting Season|
|Muskogee Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Muskogee’)||Lavender-purple flowers, drought-tolerant, blooms for 4-6 months.||6 – 9||20 – 30 ft tall, 10 – 15 ft spread||Flowers from June to September|
|Ann Magnolia (Magnolia x ‘Ann’)||Reddish-purple, tulip-like fragrant flowers, blooms later in spring.||5 – 9||10 – 15 ft tall, 10 – 12 ft spread||Flowers in April-May and mid-summer|
|Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)||Classic beauty with fragrant, lavender-purple flowers.||3 – 7||8 – 15 ft tall, 6 – 12 ft spread||Flowers in mid to late spring|
|Azurri Blue Satin® Rose of Sharon Althea Tree (Hibiscus syriacus ‘Marina’)||Violet-blue flowers with a purple-red center, versatile small tree.||5 – 9||8 – 10 ft tall, 4 – 6 ft spread||Flowers in July and August|
|Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)||Purplish-pink flowers in early spring, heart-shaped leaves.||4 – 9||20 – 30 ft tall, 15 – 35 ft spread||Flowers in March-April|
|Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)||Lilac-like purple flowers, heat-loving, suitable for xeriscaping.||7 (6 with protection) – 9||8 – 20 ft tall, 5 – 20 ft spread||Flowers from June to September|
|Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii)||Invasive species with purple flowers, cautioned against planting.||5 – 10||6 – 12 ft (to 15 ft) tall, 4 – 15 ft spread||Flowers from mid to late summer|
Pretty Purple Flowering Trees You Can Grow in Kentucky
Purple-flowering trees are gorgeous; who would not want one or several in their Kentucky garden?
The good news is that most are easy to grow and can be grown anywhere in KY with little to no maintenance, not even irrigation, once they have been established.
You can establish a gorgeous flowering tree collection by choosing early flowering species to mix with later spring bloomers, and others that will bloom almost continuously for a non-stop color show throughout the KY growing season.
I hope you are as inspired as I am to go out and plan your flowering tree collection. Enjoy!
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Lyrae grew up in the forests of BC, Canada, where she got a BSc. in Environmental Sciences.
Her whole life, she has loved studying plants, from the tiniest flowers to the most massive trees.
She is currently researching native plants of North America and spends her time traveling, hiking, documenting, and writing.
When not researching, she is homeschooling her brilliant autistic son, who travels with her and benefits from a unique hands-on education about the environment around him.