The author lives in a quiet seaside community in lower Puna on the Big Island. He's an avid gardener, traveler, and photographer.
How to Choose Which Flowers to Plant
The day is getting longer. The temperature is getting warmer. The sun is shining brighter. Bees are happily buzzing around new blooms.
Spring is the perfect time to give your garden a fresh makeover: clean up winter debris, remove dead plants, add compost and mulch to the soil, and plant new flowers.
Here’s the challenge: when it comes to flowers, choosing the perfect color can be a daunting task. The flowers for sale at your local nursery come in a multitude of shades and hues, making it quite difficult to decide what colors look best in your garden.
Landscape designers often work with the color wheel when they plant flowers. The color wheel shows the relationship between colors and how colors work with one another. You may use the color wheel as a guide to plant your own garden. It’s simple and easy to use.
Color Wheel Basics
There are six major colors on the color wheel.
- Primary colors: red, yellow, blue
- Secondary colors: orange, green, violet
In the gaps between the three primary and three secondary colors there is a full spectrum of countless tertiary colors in every shade and hue you could ever imagine. For example: yellowish-green, greenish-blue, bluish-purple, orangey-red, etc.
On the left side of the color wheel, red, orange, and yellow represent warm colors. Warm-colored flowers draw your attention to themselves and make your garden feel lively and exciting. They magically lighten up a shaded area or a dull corner. Warm-colored flowers are most effective when planting in large numbers and look best in formal flower beds; around the edges of a big lawn; or to highlight a focal point (i.e., statue or gazebo) in the garden.
On the right side of the color wheel, green, blue, and violet represent cool colors. Cool colored flowers have a calming effect. They blend in well with the surrounding foliage, therefore can make your garden look bigger. They also make hot sunny spots become “cooler”! Cool colored flowers are best used along a narrow pathway; in a small backyard or patio garden; around water features (i.e., pond or fountain); or to mix in with warm-colored flowers to soften their intensity.
Colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel are called analogous colors. Flowers in analogous colors are most compatible because they complement one another, especially when planting next to each other in the garden. They create an intimate, harmonious “zen” effect.
- yellow and green
- green and blue
- blue and violet
- violet and red
- red and orange
- orange and yellow
Colors that are directly opposite each other on the color wheel are known as complementary colors. They intensify each other; i.e., make the colors look brighter than they are. Flowers in complementary colors make your garden “pop” because they create such a vivid, pleasant contrast.
- yellow and violet
- green and red
- blue and orange
Triad Color Scheme
Another fun way to plant your garden is to use the triad color scheme.
Select any three adjacent colors from the color wheel, make one of them the dominant color and let the other two play “supporting roles”. This method also works with the three primary or three secondary colors.
For example, a flower bed looks exceptionally attractive with blue, violet, and red flowers—but it will be less intense with more blue flowers and just a few accent red and violet blossoms here and there.
Using one color (or its variations) for all the flowers in your garden is referred to as the monochromatic theme.
Select a favorite color on the color wheel. Now imagine you’re an artist, mixing that color with the neutral colors white or black, and you will get a variety of colors in lighter or darker shades of the original color. For example, a garden planted exclusively with flowers in pink, rose, magenta, fuchsia, and crimson (all variations of red) can be quite eye-catching.
Have Fun Designing Your Garden!
There is no right or wrong when it comes to color in the garden. It is simply a matter of personal taste. Some gardeners love brightly colored flowers. Others prefer delicate pastel blooms. Some like a wild mix of colors. Others enjoy a monochromatic theme garden.
Whatever color choices you choose for this season, it’s your garden and may it give you a great sense of pride and enjoyment.
About This Article
The photos in this article are taken from the author’s garden on the Big Island, Hawaii. He’s still trying to grow the notoriously difficult but gorgeous Blue Jade vine.
All photos were taken by the author with an Olympus Stylus TG-630 iHS digital camera and iPhone6.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2016 Viet Doan
KonaGirl from New York on April 04, 2016:
Gorgeous photographs! You are very talented. They make me miss home so much. Today in New York I watched it snow all day.
muhammad abdullah javed on April 04, 2016:
Excellent Veit, thank you so much for the colorful share. Very interesting and useful.
Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on April 03, 2016:
Stunning garden plants and photographs of them! Thank you for the helpful tips of punching color w/ reds and oranges, cooling them with blues and purples, and making statements either way with monochromatic schemes. Interesting hub!