Creating a Color Explosion with Annuals

  • Written by Marianne Binetti, for Molbak’s
Calibrachoas, mini petunias, are spectacular at adding waves of bright color to the garden, with blooms lasting several months.
Spring is the time of year when the earth blooms and color fills the landscape. We are lucky enough to garden in Western Washington with a mild climate that allows bountiful blooms and vivid color almost year round. If you want to color your world with more beauty for less money, invest in some fast-growing annual plants and dig in. Annuals may only live one year but they party hearty and live life in the fast lane  —  and a colorful life is much more exciting.

Color Families for Soothing Compositions

First, choose a favorite focal point plant or your favorite color family. Now, build a color theme using different blooming plants all with the same hue. You could use all pinks that range from the pale pearl of impatiens to the vivid intensity of fuchsias. Or try grouping plants with flowers or foliage within the purple and burgundy color palette. Royal purple verbenas, lavender lobelia and wine colored phlox make a trio of rich colors.

Planting Recipe for a Sunshine Container of Citrus Colors

Want more sunshine? Pot up this combo from the orange and yellow color family.

The focal point plant or thriller in the center of the pot: Canna Tropicanna — big, bold, yellow, green and orange leaves on a tall, tropical-looking plant. In a smaller pot use tall growing yellow marigolds or golden coreopsis.

The Fillers: Brightly colored begonias come in sunset colors and you can also find impatiens, geraniums and verbena that bloom in shades that range from fiery orange to lemon yellow.

The Spillers: Use the yellow foliage of creeping jenny to spill over the edge of the pot or the bi-colored blooms of heat-loving lantana for more floral punch.

When you stick with the colors of yellow and orange you’re sure to have a summer of warm memories.

Color Contrasts to Wake up the Landscape

A monochromatic color theme is both beautiful and soothing to the eye.
Add some drama or garden opera with shocking color contrasts. Play up the boldness of chocolate foliage with white or silver contrasts. Contrasting colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel will shout out loud like a drama mama and really create a scene.

Planting Recipe for a Backyard Patio Bed: Purple and Gold can really be Bold

The focal point or thriller plant in the center of the pot: Spiky cordylines now come in rich purple and reds to provide a dramatic background for the shorter plants.

The fillers: Use vivid gold blooms of a biden “Goldilocks Rocks” or mini marigold plants. The filler plants provide the vivid color contrast with the thriller plant.

Lime green could also be a bold contrast to deep purple. There are new mini petunias called Calibrachoa that have bi-colored blooms of contrasting colors. “Pretty Much Picasso” is a new petunia hybrid with vivid purple blooms outlined with lime green. This plant is spectacular due to great color contrasts. Many coleus plants also have colorful contrasts spilled all over their leaves like a painter’s palette.

The Spillers: Add a groundcover plant  to spill from the sides of a pot. For example the lime green “Sweet Caroline” sweet potato vine would make a great contrast to the deep purple tones. If you use petunias with bi-colored blooms the solid color of a foliage plant provides a stunning backdrop for the big show.

Planting more flowers is a gift to the neighborhood, the bees and butterflies and your beauty-seeking soul.

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