At the moment, I have the luxury to choose whatever annual color plants I want, because these days, my plant choices are just for me. In the past, however, when I have chosen plant material, I had to be especially careful, because as a landscaper, the plants were going in front of very public places like restaurants, business parks, or even large private homes. No matter where they went, they always had to look good all the time.
I wanted to have healthy, long lasting color:
- So I didn't have to change it out for the season
- So it would be cost effective for the owner
- So it would fill in and look even better as time went on
- Because it made the establishment look good
- Because it made me look good (I mean, let's be honest!)
Probably looks like a similar list of reasons you have for your annual flower criteria too. Well try some of the combinations I have listed below, because they will meet the criteria above, and I know you will be happy with them.
#1: One of my favorite summer color and plant combinations is red and yellow celosia, the plume variety, mixed with blue salvia, with a low border of sweet white alyssum.
- What makes this color combination work is that your color scheme has the primary colors of red, blue, and yellow, which strongly appeal to us from childhood.
- This color combination works anywhere. I seldom see people try this combination, and they should.
- What makes this plant combination work, is that both the celosia and the salvia have long tall flowers. They compliment each other and then are offset by the low border of alyssum.
- Try grouping similar flower types and get a little bold mixing the colors up.
- Have you ever tried purple, yellow, and white with a green border of low mounding grasses? Get creative.
#2: Another good summer mix is a combination of summer madness petunias, with dusty miller, and a heavy border of white sweet alyssum.
- What makes this color combination great, is that it is using a different base color of gray.
- The summer madness petunia has a touch of gray in it that works really well with the gray in the dusty miller.
- It is eye catching because it is not your usual mix of summer annuals like marigolds.
- It has a sophisticated feel, but can be used anywhere, and the white border gives it a finished look.
- I tend to put the taller dusty miller towards the back, fill in with the petunias, and finish with the white alyssum. You can try this, or do something with a different base color.
What makes this plant combination work is the drastically different textures. There is enough difference between the petunias and dusty miller to complement each other, without becoming too much.
#3: A good fall mixture is to use a combination of Iceland poppies with purple and pink stock, and either a border of lobelia, or alyssum, or one color of pansies.
- What makes this color combination work is that it is very soft, and pastel-like.
- When it is fall, and the days are getting shorter, all this bright color really can pop your yard out.
- They are mostly warm colors, so they contrast with the cool temperatures at that time of year.
- All these plants are very tall, and have long thin stems.
- Again, try things with similar growing habits, and then contrast it with something low.
- What also looks good with the poppies and stock can even be a border of festuca, the low mounding grasses that come in gray and green.
#4: A monoculture
One last idea for you to try, is an entire planting of Teddy Bear Sunflowers. The Teddy Bear variety are a dwarf, so they only get a foot or two tall. This is very eye-catching, and since these, and similar dwarf varieties, can be started from seed, they are very cost effective.
Lastly keep in mind, less is more.
- If you are going to be trying any of the above in containers, great, but try using a few large containers instead of lots and lots of little pots.
- Numerous pots tend to look cluttered and haphazard, while a few large containers placed here and there, look well planned, and do more to add a nice show of color that is noticed.
If you have ever been in one of those moods saying to yourself, " What could I plant that would be different this time?", I hope this has helped you answer the question!
Hilary Rinaldi is a professional landscaper who has written for gardening publications such as "Seed Trade News" and "Houseplant Magazine". She also has been a professional public speaker and educator in the gardening industry for over 20 years sharing gardening information and tips to as many people as she can.
Copyright WM Media. All rights reserved.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.