The Q&A Archives: red and purple in morning sun

Question: What shrub that has red to purple color will do good in partial sun?
The area gets sunlight in the morning until about 11am. Barberry Crimson Pygmy has a perfect color and size of what I'm looking for, but I was told it needs full sun all day. Is it ture? If it is, what are the best alternatives? Thank you.

Answer: It is true that the red barberries need full sun all day or for a bare minimum of six hours including the hour of noon. Without it they start to look greener and grow thin and sparse. The same is true of other purple-leafed plants such as the purple leaf sand cherry and purple smokebush -- both of which are also much larger plants. For just a few hours of gentle morning sun, I really can't think of a shrub that will do what you want. You might consider a purple foliage plant such as Perilla Magilla -- it would have to be replanted each year (or you could overwinter some tip cuttings) but it does have that jolt of purple. I'm sorry I can't think of anything better. Perhaps your local professional nursery staff and/or county extension would have some ideas.

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