Copper in the Garden

Copper in the Garden

Copper foliage is a popular trend in gardening right now, with lots of new and exciting options for your backyard. The dark leaf color is actually the result of a higher amount of the pigment, Anthocyanin, in the leaf. The pigment, Anthocyanin, is present in all plants, but in copper (or purple) foliage plants the Anthocyanin is present in such high concentration that it suppresses the more familiar green pigment, Chlorophyl. Copper foliage plants can be a great addition to your garden. They can create a dark backdrop, making your garden look bigger, and providing dramatic contrast to your perennials and lawn. Copper foliage is especially vibrant when combined with golds, oranges and chartreuses.

Here are a few suggestions for your garden:

  • Purple smoke tree (Cotinus coggygri atropurpureum) is a small tree that tops out at ten feet. The leaves are a deep, eggplant and copper purple. In summer its flowers are feathery panicles of pink flowers that resemble clouds of smoke.
  • ‘Forest Pansy’ Redbud (Cercis canadensis) blooms in clusters of purple pink flowers before its heart shaped foliage appears. This 10-15′ tree belongs in the shade; too much sunlight can fade the leaves to green.
  • Crabapples (Malus hybrids) often come with deep purple foliage and many of the newer varieties are relatively disease resistant.
  • Many Japanese Maples have beautiful burgundy foliage, but a few are closer to copper. These include ‘Shiloh’,
  • ‘Coppertina’ Ninebark (Physocarpus) is a shrub that reaches 5-6 feet tall and wide, with orange-copper foliage and button-like white flowers in midsummer.
  • Two Weigela, ‘Midnight Wine’ and ‘Wine and Roses’ both have purple foliage that intensifies as summer progresses, especially when planted in sun.
  • Purple leaf Catalpa (Catalpa) has large tropical looking heart-shaped leaves that are up to 8 in long.
  • ‘Purple Fountain’ Beech (Fagus) is a traditional choice among gardeners but there is also the Fagus rosea marginata which grows to 25′ and has copper colored leaves with green and cream margins.
  • Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’, the leaves of this hardy hibiscus are copper-red on top and orange-red underneath.

Special Thanks:

Broken Arrow Nursery
13 Broken Arrow Road
Hamden, CT 06518
(203) 288-1026

The excerpt above is from a Cultivating Life segment produced by Erin Frost. The tv series, Cultivating Life with host Sean Conway, explores how we’ve all moved out of our houses and into our backyards. Each week, the show celebrates how Americans are reconnecting to the land.