A closeup of the deep purple, heart-shape foliage of the Purpleleaf Catalpa as it emerges and transitions to the deep green color.
A single deep purple, heart-shaped leaf of the Purpleleaf Catalpa on a white background.
A close up of the clusters of white, orchid-shaped flowers of the Purpleleaf Catalpa with streaks of purple and yellow.
A closeup of the deep purple, heart-shape foliage of the Purpleleaf Catalpa as it emerges and transitions to the deep green color.
A single deep purple, heart-shaped leaf of the Purpleleaf Catalpa on a white background.
A close up of the clusters of white, orchid-shaped flowers of the Purpleleaf Catalpa with streaks of purple and yellow.

Purpleleaf Catalpa

Bower & Branch Trees and Plants

Catalpa erubescens purpurea

Regular price

This plant is not available at this time through Bower & Branch. We provide this plant profile for reference only.

See below for alternative selections for purchase and inspiration!



  • The large, heart-shaped foliage emerges a dark purple and transitions to a bronze-green color during summer
  • By fall, the leaves fade to a sunny yellow color
  • In late spring to early summer, trumpet-shaped flowers emerge that are white with purple and yellow spots 
  • Blooms attract hummingbirds and other pollinators
  • An upright, rounded crown with a relatively open branching structure
  • Used as a specimen tree, as a large shade tree or mixed into others plantings where the striking purple foliage will shine
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Growth Facts

  • Hardiness Zone: 5-8
  • Mature Height: 30-45' tall
  • Mature Width: 30-40' wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Spacing: 30-40' apart

Why plant Purpleleaf Catalpa?

Purpleleaf Catalpa is a bold and bodacious ornamental tree that will turn your backyard into a tropical getaway. Its heart-shaped leaves, which can span an amazing 10 to 12 inches in length and emerge a shimmering passion-fruit-purple in spring, are unlike anything you’ve ever seen in a hardy tree. The leaves eventually fade to green, but giant, colorful foliage isn’t the only thing that makes this cold-hardy tree seem tropical. In early summer, big clusters of white, orchid-like flowers hold court, drawing in hummingbirds from near and far. Pour yourself a piña colada, kick back, and enjoy the show!

Two Catalpas have had a long history in American life—a species native to the Midwest and another to the Deep South. The purpleleaf version we offer is a hybrid between the Southerner and a third species, the Chinese Catalpa. Those two species were first hybridized in France in 1866. The purpleleaf selection may have originated (no one is sure) in the nursery of Thomas Meehan of Germantown, Pennsylvania sometime before 1886. No doubt it was a hot item. It was the Victorian Age, and bold, tropical-looking plants were all the rage.

How to use Purpleleaf Catalpa in the landscape?

Young chocolate purple leaves turn to dark green as they age. Masses of creamy white flowers with yellow and brown flecks appear in late spring followed by seed pods in fall. Quite a unique tree to act as a stunning shade tree, specimen tree, or wildlife garden.

Planting Zones

Hardiness Zone: 5-8

How To Plant Purpleleaf Catalpa

Wild Catalpas have gotten along fine without human intervention for ages. They pop up even in the most inhospitable vacant lots in the heart of the city. This one doesn’t need to be coddled, either. It can handle intense heat, dry soil, and periodic flooding. Despite its Southern heritage, it’s surprisingly cold-hardy, too. It should survive in all of Massachusetts and in coastal areas further north as well. This is a fast growing tree that flowers at a young age - it gets the show on the road!

How To Water

When newly planted, you should immediately water you new Catalpa. Water slowly and deeply as this will encourage the roots to grow deeper, promoting a stronger root system. You should water this way every two to three days during the first growing season, tapering off as fall arrives. Once established, your Catalpa will be moderately drought tolerant.

How To Fertilize

When planting your new Purpleleaf Catalpa, we recommend fertilizing with the Bower & Branch Starter Plant Food. Before placing the tree in the hole, mix the fertilizer with the soil at the base. After placement of the tree, mix it with the soil around the care bed as well. For ongoing care, you should fertilize each spring and fall for the first three years to ensure the tree has all it needs to establish itself.

How To Prune

When pruning your Catalpa tree, the best time to do so is when it is dormant in late winter to early spring. This will encourage a vigorous flush of new growth in spring, which bodes will for flowering as the Catalpa flowers on new growth. You should remove any damaged or dead branches, as well as those necessary to improve the overall structure of the tree.

How Does Shipping Work?

Bower & Branch Trees, the real BIG trees, don’t fit in a box! Our big trees, sizes XL and bigger, require expert delivery and care, that means our extra-large trees are shipped on Bower & Branch trucks. We are the only ones who know how to ship our big and bigger trees and plants with tender loving care. We deliver your trees and plants directly to you. Ask Bower & Branch about planting services – we'd be happy to assist in installation.

*For Big trees and Shrubs, Size XL and bigger: Review our Seasonal Shipping Timelines and Policy here.

Your trees and plants are grown across the United States at various Bower & Branch Growers. Depending on your location, your plant orders may be shipped from various locations. Please expect orders with multiple items to be delivered over a number of days as a result. Orders made up of numerous items or selections will not arrive at your home on the same day.

Shipping Delays:

From time to time, Bower & Branch Growers may determine to delay order shipment based on various factors for plant health. Weather in your region, as well as, where your plants are grown, is always considered when shipping. Extreme weather conditions may delay some or all of your order. Bower & Branch allows our Growers to make final shipping decisions based solely to benefit your trees and plants’ health and success.

How Does Sizing Work?

The size of our trees have nothing to do with the container size like you may find elsewhere–big doesn't mean just height - it’s also vigor, age, and overall health. Other online retailers are going to tell you that a plant is a seven gallon, that means nothing to your tree or plant (or you.)

Our trees for sale online are graded on large, x-large, and even bigger sizes. This is because our trees are sized by their age—the higher the letter, the more mature the tree. The age determines the trees’ overall height, size of the trunk and the overall branch density.

All of these characteristics are what you should be looking for when choosing a tree for immediate impact and instant curb appeal. Our extra-large tree and plant sizes are sure to wow you and your neighbors!

See the size guides below.

How Trees are Shipped
Size 4XL D Trees Size 3XL C Trees Size 2XL B Trees Size XL A Trees Size LARGE AA Trees

Our Guarantees


Bower & Branch offers a Three-Year Tree Guarantee on all of our trees, sizes X-Large and up. Only the finest and the most experienced growers are awarded the opportunity to grow for Bower & Branch, so we offer the best guarantee available.

If your tree(s) should fail for any reason during the three-year guarantee period, you will receive an online gift card in the amount that you originally spent on the tree.* You can then use this online gift card for any Bower & Branch Purchase.

* Bower & Branch provides online gift cards in the amount of the original purchase price of the tree(s). The amount does not include any additional costs such as delivery, planting, tax, or any other products or services. Online gift cards can be applied towards any Bower & Branch purchase on BowerandBranch.com and have no expiration dates. Bower & Branch does not guarantee tree replacement or availability of any desired product at any time. Cash refunds are not offered. Bower & Branch requires that all original tags and receipts are present when a guarantee request is initiated. The Bower & Branch Three-Year Guarantee only applies to plant material that has been planted in the ground. Container plantings are NOT covered.

At Bower & Branch, we do our best to honor all guarantee fulfillment requests to ensure customer satisfaction. However, we reserve the right to refuse the request if the required guarantee steps were not satisfied. Bower & Branch also reserves the right to deny any guarantee fulfillment request that is made as a result of animal damage, problems with plant hardiness and zone issues, or acts of nature (snow storms, hurricanes, and similar).


Reach out to a Plant Whisperer with any questions:

- Email: plantwhisperers@bowerandbranch.com

- Phone: 866-873-3888

- Or via Online Chat

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