Planting by Color

flowers in pots ready to be planted

If you enjoy some style and design to your garden, you can take the endless possibilities of color and create a beautiful landscape. All you need to do is decide what look you are going for and find the plants and flowers to give you that look. As you choose colors for your plants and flowers, remember certain shades go well together and give off different appearances. Below are some tips to accomplish different garden goals with color.

When Size Matters

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Use the placement of your plants to help you accomplish your design goals whether you want the illusion of a bigger or smaller space.

Cooler colors like soft pastels, greens, and blues go well together because they give off a tranquil appearance. Cool colors should be planted in the back of your garden because they appear to be further away than they are and will make your garden look bigger than it actually is.

Warm colors such as gold, orange, red, and yellow are visually stimulating and jump out at you from the garden. The effect they have, however, is to make you feel closer to what you are looking at. This can make a garden look smaller than it really is, so use these colors in the front of your garden so you don't diminish the size of the space you are working with.

Colors That Complement

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The saying goes that opposites attract. Use a color wheel to aid in your color decisions and discover what colors complement, or enhance, each other. Some common favorites are purple and yellow, red and green, and orange and blue.

Select a color and then find the color directly opposite it on the wheel. For instance, blue and yellow are directly across from each other and are considered opposites. Blues tend to get washed out in a garden on their own, but combining them with yellow will help both colors stand out because they are completely contrasting.

You can also take an approach called the triad harmony scheme, where you choose three colors from the color wheel that are across from each other in three points, like a triangle. The primary colors red, yellow, and blue are an example of this. For another complementary combination, shift on the wheel by one color and you will have three different colors: orange, purple, and green.

Use Just One Color

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Using a single color in your garden can have a huge impact. Choose a variety of plants in different shades of your chosen color. Red rose bushes will bloom in a deep, vibrant red. Zinnia flowers have a bright orange tint to their red petals. You can also plant some red tulips that have white tips to offset the red. For some height, choose a red shrub tree called rhus glabra. Even when using one color as the primary color in your garden, there are endless possibilities.

A Rainbow of Options

With your plan in mind you should be able to determine the colors you want in your garden. Just be sure to keep in mind the blooming seasons for each plant and their necessary care before you devote yourself to a design scheme. Here’s a list of common flowers and plants that you can find in the colors listed:

Red – Parrot Lily, Devils Tongue, Montebretia, Clematis, Columbine, False Spiraea, Hardy Calanthe Orchid, Dahlia, Bleeding Heart

Orange – Tickseed, Dahlia, Coneflower, Coneflower, Coneflower, Coneflower, Milkweed

Yellow – Adonis, Yarrow, Fox-tail agave, Golden Garlic, Hardy Shade Ginger, Rock Halequin, Ice Plant

Green – Cobra Lily, Crested Painted Fern, Japanese Hakone Grass, Corsican Hellebore, Ostrich Fern

Blue – Ornamental Onion, Monkshood, Fairies Thimbels, Corydalis, Delphinium, Liverleaf

Purple – Siberian Iris, Cranesbill, Bachelor’s Button, Camas Lily, Chinese Ground Orchid, Bugleweed, Anise Hyssop

Pink – Japanese Anemone, Common Milkweed, False Spiraea, Hardy Begonia, Canna Lily, Valerian

White – Showy Libertia, Tall Garden Plox, Winter Honeysuckle, Cranesbill