I’m sure you’ve heard the recommendation to “eat the rainbow,” but have you ever thought about growing the rainbow in your garden? Your garden is, by no means, limited to the colors you can find in the produce aisle. There are tons of purple varieties of vegetables to add to your orange carrots, red cherry tomatoes, and green kale.
You could even go full theme and plant yourself an entire garden with nothing but purple plants. And I’m not just suggesting that as part of an eccentric whim. Growing more purple actually has a number of benefits for you and your garden.
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REASONS TO ADD PURPLE TO YOUR VEGETABLE GARDEN
- Eating vegetables in different colors is a great way to add more varied nutrients to your diet. Most purple plants get their purple color from anthocyanin, an antioxidant that benefits your brain, heart, and immune system. This same flavonoid gives blueberries, grapes, and strawberries, their blue, purple, and red colors.
- Anthocyanin might just be as beneficial to your garden as it is to you. Studies suggest it’s toxic to caterpillars, which explains why you won’t find as many cabbage worms on your purple kale leaves as you do your green.
- Purple foods might be more appealing to picky eaters. There’s some evidence they even boost moods in adults.
- From a visual standpoint, purple contrasts so nicely with green. I went with a green and purple color scheme for my fall planters this year.
Let’s look now at all the incredible purple veggies you can grow at home.
LIST OF PURPLE VEGGIES
Here are some of the best purple vegetables you can grow yourself:
- purple Asian greens
- purple basil
- purple beans
- purple beets
- purple bell peppers
- purple bok choy
- purple broccoli
- purple cabbage
- purple carrots
- purple cauliflower
- purple eggplant
- purple kale
- purple kohlrabi
- purple onions
- purple peas
- purple potatoes
- purple radishes
- purple sweet potatoes
- purple tomatillos
- purple tomatoes
Looking for a fun purple garden apron to help you with your garden harvests? Roo Gardening has the best garden aprons!
PURPLE ROOT CROPS
It still blows my mind sometimes that veggies that form underground can be so sweet and delicious. When they’re gorgeous shades of purple and magenta, it seems like even more of a miracle.
Purple carrots have been making a long-overdue comeback in home gardens. Purple, not orange, is actually closer in color to the original carrots humans began cultivating long ago. Not only are they beautiful, they actually show more resistance to pests than orange carrots.
Cosmic Purple Carrots, which have purple skin and orange interiors, are beautiful and easy to grow. They’re long, tapered roots that are great for snacking.
Carrot Growing Season: Cool
Each little beet is basically a nutritional powerhouse, and red/purple beets get their rich color from something called betacyanin, which is known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
To reap these benefits, try growing Bull’s Blood Beets. The root is red (and best harvested as a baby beet), but the leaves are a gorgeous shade of deep purple. Harvest some of the leaves while you’re waiting on your little root to sweeten up, and toss them into your salads for a more colorful bowl. This purple variety is tolerant of both heat and cold.
Beet Growing Season: Cool-Warm
Radishes are chock-full of vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium, and antioxidants. Purple radishes are an excellent source of fiber, especially when eaten raw. (There’s lots of nutrients in radish leaves, too, so make sure you’re snipping some off your plants while you’re waiting on the roots to form.)
Try these Mini Purple Daikon Radishes, which have a deep violet exterior and a slightly sweet twist on the usual peppery flavor. If you want something smaller, you gotta grow this Easter Egg Blend, an adorable mix of red, pink, purple, and white radishes. These little guys are ready for harvest in just 30 days. Slice ’em up and toss them into the most cheerful-looking salad ever.
Radish Growing Season: Cool
PURPLE LEAFY “GREENS”
If you’re sicking of eating your greens, try eating your purples instead.
If you’ve grown green cabbage before, you know that green caterpillars can be a major pain. Save yourself some frustration and plant some purple and red cabbage varieties. Pests are less likely to lay their eggs on veggies in these shades, either because it’s hard for them to camouflage themselves or the anthocyanins harm them.
My favorite purple cabbage is Purple Express Napa Cabbage. Its beautiful purple-red leaves will look stunning in your garden and then fill your body with so many antioxidants. Plus, Napa cabbages grow faster than other varieties. These leaves will be perfect for salads, slaws, stir fries, and homemade Kimchi.
Cabbage Growing Season: Cool
I can’t get enough of purple kale. If the leaves didn’t wilt so quickly, I would expect to see bouquets of nothing but purple kale leaves—that’s how striking they are.
Purple kale leaves are, of course, super nutritious and can be enjoyed in smoothies, salads, and more. Note that they do lose their purple color when cooked (sadly, no purple kale chips).
There are three purple kale varieties I recommend: Redbor Kale, which has ruffled leaves that turn a more intense purple-magenta color as the weather cools off in fall, Red Russian Kale, which has beautiful purple-veined leaves, and Dazzling Blue Kale (a type of Lacinato Kale), which has purple midribs and blue-green leaves that turn more purple as the temps drop.
Kale Growing Season: Cool but kale can stay in your garden up to 2 years with weather protection
I think basil with purple leaves is one of the most beautiful herbs. Purple basil leaves give you all the same nutrition as green basil, including lots of vitamin K.
For basil with vibrant purple leaves that have that same sweet basil flavor, try Deep Purple Basil. Purple Opal Basil also has deep purple leaves with hints of clove and all spice. You could also plant Thai basil, an incredibly low-maintenance herb that has green leaves but produces the most beautiful purple flowers that will attract lots of pollinators to your garden. Save seeds from these flowers to make your own basil seed water. Last but not least, Cinnamon Basil has bright green leaves on dark purple stems and gives you a cinnamon-y punch.
Basil Growing Season: Warm and Hot (or year round indoors)
Purple Asian Greens
This groups includes mizuna, pak choy, and mustard greens, all from the Brassica family. Their flavors might range from mild to mustardy, but they’re all super versatile in the kitchen. They’re also really easy to grow, and thanks to their heat and cold tolerance, they have a long growing window.
This Purple Mizuna has purple-veined leaves with serrated edges. Vivid Choi Pac Choy has pink and purple stems and leaves. Last but not least, we have Red Giant Mustard Greens, whose leaves start off bright green with deep purple veins and then turn more burgundy as they mature.
Asian Greens Growing Season: Cool to Hot (Mizuna can grow in the heat, mustard and choy’s like it cool)
PURPLE FRUITING PLANTS
If you want the most beautiful harvest pics ever, you gotta grow some purple fruits.
What’s even healthier than traditional red tomatoes? Purple tomatoes have higher levels of anthocyanins, lutein, and B-carotene than red tomatoes. Plus, you can make your own goth salsa and tomato sauce, if that’s your thing.
I thought about including Cherokee Purple, but those fruits never look all that purple to me. Instead, try Black Cherry Tomatoes, which have clusters of fruits in a rich purple-mahogany color on fast-growing vines. There’s also Indigo Apple, which has large fruits that start off shiny black and ripen to matte purple.
Tomato Growing Season: Warm
Purple Bell Peppers
Peppers come in almost every color of the rainbow now. Purple capsicum gives you all the numerous health benefits of peppers, plus tons of antioxidants from those good ol’ anthocyanins.
One of my favorite parts about growing peppers is watching the fruits turn color. Iko Iko Sweet Bell Peppers have fruits that start off dark purple, lavender, or pale yellow and then ripen to a bright red streaked with purple. Lilo F1 Sweet Peppers are fully ripe when they’re purple but have all the flavor of a green bell pepper.
Pepper Growing Season: Warm to Hot
If you love fresh green beans, you can still find that crisp texture and sweet flavor in their purple counterparts. I recommend eating purple string beans raw since do they do, unfortunately, lose their pretty royal purple color when cooked.
Beans Growing Season: Warm to Hot
Purple peas are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber. The purple sugar snaps that come out of my garden are usually enjoyed the second they’re harvested, long before they ever make it to the kitchen.
Purple varieties include Sugar Magnolia Snap Peas. You’ll get the prettiest little purple flowers and then tender purple pea pods with that satisfying crunch. See above for purple hull peas, which are really a type of bean.
Peas Growing Season: Cool
No surprise here since most eggplants are purple, but take a moment to really appreciate how beautiful these purple fruits look dangling from a branch. They’re like purple plant jewels.
Black Beauty Eggplant gives you that classic Italian eggplant that’s glossy and so purple it’s almost black. Rose Bianca Eggplant is a nice twist on the classic; this Sicilian variety grows light pink fruits streaked with violet. And for slender eggplants with magenta skin, grow Ping Tung Long Eggplant, an Asian variety that does great in containers.
Eggplant Growing Season: Warm to Hot
A cross between tomatoes and ground cherries, these fruits are as attractive as they are delicious. You can peel the papery husks off your purple tomatillos and make your own salsa morada (that’s salsa verde that’s purple!).
If you love homemade Tex Mex, you gotta try growing Purple Tomatillos. They’re sweeter than their green counterparts. Make sure you grow two plants so they can cross pollinate.
Tomatillo Growing Season: Warm to Hot
PURPLE BULBS & TUBERS
I’m sure you knew spuds could taste good (especially fried), but did you also know they could be so pretty?
Purple potatoes have bluish-purple skin and bright purple flesh that holds its stunning shade even after cooking. Purple potatoes have tons of nutritional benefits, and they may actually be better for people who are trying to manage their blood sugar levels than regular potatoes—that’s thanks to their high concentration of a plant compound called polyphenol, which helps to absorb starches.
Check out these Purple Viking Potatoes, which have deep purple skin flecked with pink. You can also prepare any organic purple potato variety you find at your local farmers’ market for planting.
Potato Growing Season: Warm
Purple kohlrabi can add a bright pop of color to your vegetable garden with is round bulb that grows above the ground (it’s not a root vegetable). This bulb can be eaten raw or cooked (it’s crunchy like an apple with a flavor more like sweet cabbage), and you can also eat the greens, which look a bit like kale leaves. Both the bulb and the leaves are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Just one cup contains 140% of your daily vitamin C.
Purple Vienna Kohlrabi grows a bulb with royal purple skin and white flesh.
Kohlrabi Growing Season: Cool
Purple Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are already super nutritious, but purple sweet potatoes have beta-carotene plus three times more anthocyanin than blueberries.
Since you’ll grow sweet potatoes from slips instead of seeds, it’s best to head to your local nursery and browse their slips or buy an organically grown purple sweet potato from the farmers’ market to start your own slips (which would be genetically identical to the parent sweet potato). Varieties to look for are Stokes Purple or Okinawan, also called Hawaiian sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potato Growing Season: Hot
Purple and red onions are great for heart health. Plant compounds and flavonols like quercetin in purple onions can reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.
These Mini Purplette Bunching Onions can be harvested as scallions or left to mature into pearls with glossy purple skin.
Onion Growing Season: Warm to Cool
PURPLE FLOWER HEADS
Broccoli and cauliflower are both immature flower heads we harvest before they open, and they come in some surprising colors. Ask your picky toddlers if they’d like to eat some “purple trees”.
Purple broccoli gets its deep purple color from sulforophane, which is thought to help prevent cancer and protect against heart disease and diabetes. Purple broccoli heads are extra tender and flavorful.
Try Burgundy Broccoli, a type of sprouting broccoli. That means you’ll pinch the first main floret that grows to encourage the plant to produce tons of side shoots, the real treat.
Broccoli Growing Season: Cool
White cauliflower is so last year. Purple cauliflower is sweeter and much prettier. The one downside if you’re looking to brighten up your meals is that it doesn’t hold its color well when exposed to water.
Grab these seeds for Purple Crush, which produces a head with a beautiful rich purple color and mild, nutty flavor.
Cauliflower Growing Season: Cool
Enjoy Growing These Purple Veggies!
I hope these suggestions help to color your world and make gardening (and eating) a little bit richer. Your body will certainly thank you for eating your purples alongside your greens. (Does anyone else think the word “purple” looks strange after reading it so many times?)