Purple Beech hedging plants or Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’ (also known as Copper Beech) are the colourful purple version of one of the most popular hedging plants, the wavy edged leaves emerge greenish-purple in late spring and become darker and richer purple as they mature. During the autumn months, the foliage colour softens gradually through purple-green to buttery yellow tones before turning to a coppery brown, these leaves are then retained during the winter making Purple Beech one of the few deciduous hedging plants that offers both year-round privacy and year-round interest.
When the leaves of Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’ first emerge, some plants look much greener than others, this is not because they are green beech and have been mixed up, just that like all Beech plants for hedging, they are grown from seed and there will inevitably be some genetic variation. They will all quickly darken to various shades of purple within a week or two. Again, because these hedging plants are grown from seed the shades of purple will vary slightly and you may need to look quite closely to notice it, especially later in the season! This does not detract from the beauty of a Purple Beech hedge which makes an great addition to a garden, it is simply a characteristic of the species.
Purple Beech hedging plants make a very colourful backdrop to a garden or landscaping project, whether you are planting a boundary hedge for privacy with a lawn in front, or the glorious purple foliage can contrast beautifully with the carefully chosen colour palette of plants in a border planted in front of the hedge.
Some designers and gardeners like to mix Copper Beech with Green Beech in a hedge to give what is called a ‘harlequin’ effect, this can be very effective (we have included a photo in the gallery), especially in late spring when the fresh green and rich purple colours contrast beautifully. Because both types have the same growth rate the hedge can be maintained without one type of Beech out competing the other. (The whole hedge will revert back to being coppery-brown in Winter)
Purple (and Green) Beech are a great choice for planting next to a road, Beech hedges will provide privacy all year round like an evergreen hedge but the brown winter leaves aren’t affected by salt spray, unlike many evergreen species such as Laurel or Leylandii.
Purple beech will succeed in any soil type if it does not become waterlogged during wet spells, especially in winter. If you do have a wet site, we would recommend you consider Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) as a better alternative as this is a hedging plant that does very well on wet sites.
Once established, Purple Beech hedging plants will grow quickly at 30-60cm per year (just the same as Green Beech), they are easy to maintain with a trim once a year in late summer to keep them tidy, this will also improve leaf retention on the plants in winter. For a manicured and sharp look you could trim twice, once in late May and again in late summer, although this sounds like a lot more work you will have a smaller volume of clippings to clear up and a beautifully dense hedge.
Copper Beech hedges can be kept to any size from as small as 60cm up to many metres and so are suitable for many situations and purposes.
How many Purple Beech hedging plants do I need?
The number of plants needed for a new Purple Beech hedge is very much a matter of personal choice and how patient you are to reach the desired result. For all the smaller sizes 3 plants per metre is perfectly adequate if you are patient, for a dense hedge you may like to plant a staggered double row using 5 plants per metre. For the fastest results and a very bushy hedge it is possible to use seven plants per metre if your budget will allow, this option is suitable for all sizes of 100/120cm or smaller.
For larger, taller potted plants and Root ball Purple Beech hedging plants 2-3 plants per metre in a single row will give good results although it is possible to plant a double row with 4 or 5 per metre to give maximum coverage quickly.
All of our instant Purple Beech hedging is grown in handy 1 metre sections to make calculations easy.
Need advice on how to plant a new Purple Beech hedge?
Planting a new hedge is a very rewarding job and it really isn’t difficult! We have produced a handy guide telling you everything you need to know about preparing the site, how to plant and the aftercare of new hedges. You can view it on our how to plant a hedge page, and if we are lucky enough to receive an order from you, a printed copy will be included with your order so you have it handy.
Purple Beech hedge plants are available in a variety of different forms
Bare Root Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’ are grown in the fields without needing pots or compost and they need little in the way of water and fertiliser. They are a low input crop and are great value for money, this is the cheapest way to plant a new purple beech hedge. The plants are lifted from the nursery field with all the soil shaken off and delivered to you ready for planting. Bare root plants are available when dormant during the winter months from November until April, all our plants are sent out fresh within a day or two of ordering and should be planted within a few days of receiving them.
Pot grown Purple Beech hedging plants are all grown here at the nursery under the watchful eye of our experienced horticulturalist staff and are available in the widest selection of sizes you will find from any nursery, selected from our growing beds and despatched out to you fresh, within a day or two of ordering.
Pot grown Purple Beech hedging plants have several advantages, because there is no root disturbance they may be planted all year round (they are always in season) and they will always establish quickly at any time of year. In most cases they will ‘catch up’ bare rooted or root ball plants of a larger size within a season or two and so are good value for money.
Rootball Copper Beech plants are a great choice where instant impact is desired without being too expensive. Root ball Beech are grown in the soil in our fields for several years to make strong, bushy plants and lifted with some soil and immediate root system by our specialist rootballing machine. The soil around the roots is retained with hessian mesh (as you can see in the product photos) and this should be left when you plant them to prevent root disturbance, it will rot away soon after planting as the hessian is fully biodegradable.
Rootball Copper Beech hedging is supplied when dormant during the winter season from October- April which is the correct time for planting, all our plants are grown here on our own nursery and send out to you lifted fresh within a day or two of ordering.
Instant Purple Beech Hedging plants are a great way of creating maximum impact right from the moment they are planted, we have a variety of options starting with the young trough hedges that have been trimmed at the sides and are good value for money as they bring landscape impact at low cost. The larger and taller troughs will bring greater privacy from day one and are also great value for money as we grow them all here in their thousands on our own nursery.
For maximum impact you may like to consider our Purple Beech hedge elements, these have been grown on from younger plants for up to six years on the nursery with a regular and disciplined programme of trimming (both the roots and tops!) to produce an excellent quality of fast establishing, fibrous rooted hedging that offers a real ‘show garden’ look in heights up to 200cm. All our hedge elements are supplied with the corresponding length of trickle irrigation hose and fittings included in the price.
All our instant Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’ hedging products are supplied in convenient 1 metre lengths.
You might also like to consider larger sizes of our root ball and pot grown Purple Beech hedge plants, while these plants may not have been grown and trimmed as an established hedge in quite the same way, they are still mature plants and will give some good instant impact at a significantly lower cost compared to instant Purple Beech hedging if your budget wont quite stretch that far.
If you have any further questions about any of our Purple Beech hedging or any other plants or would like a special quote for a large quantity of hedging, please call our experienced sales team on 01580 765600 or drop us a line through our contact page.