Creating a Color Theme with Annuals

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Posted by @Joannabanana on
Have you ever thought it would be fun to have a color themed garden? Using annuals to enhance a specific color is a lot easier than you may think. One of the advantages is that you can change your color theme every year.

In one of my container beds, I like to choose a specific color for the season.  There is a mix of plant material, including annuals, roses and tender perennials (that are not winter hardy here).  Here's how it looks from year to year.  Every year produces a different impression, depending on the color scheme.

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2009 2010 2011
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2012 2013

I really like the burgundy mixed with pinks and whites.  My favourite floribunda rose (I treat it as an annual because it is not hardy here) is Burgundy Iceburg.

Most of these collections have petunias, calibrachoa, petchoa, pelargoniums, bacopa, verbena, miniature roses, coleus, ipomoea and acidanthera.  It's a lot of fun to find some uniquely colored varieties to fit with your theme.

Many are started from seed, early indoors, or bought from local garden centers.

Here are two plants that may be considered an odd couple.  The coleus is in a small pot shaded by the larger containers in the group. This is from the 2013 collection above.

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Coleus Rose

Your featured color will certainly affect the "Wow" factor.  The fuchsia is much more vibrant and stronger than the lavender shades.  Even though there are dark blue petunias in the window box in the left photo, the colors are a lot softer than in the photo with the ball of fuchsia petunias.  It's important to pick a color that you like.

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As you can see in the photos above, the "hot" colors tend to pop and grab your attention.  Here's another example of how hot vs. cool will change the feel.  As this bed matures with the perennials & shrubs, fewer annuals are used in the ground, so I have started to garden upward.

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The blue petunias produce a relaxing tranquil feeling The orange petunias produce a high energy look

Many "hot" color annuals bloom mid to late summer.  Both of these are very easy to start from seed or even to winter-sow.

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Flame Zinnia Goldilocks Rudbeckia

Some of my choices for hot late summer color are rudbeckias, mums, sunflowers, canna lilies, begonias, etc.

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Cappuccino Rudbeckia  Fall Collection  Scarlet Wax Begonia

My garden, just as yours, changes throughout the season. Perennials add a splash of color at certain times of the growing season, but most only bloom for a few weeks. If you are missing a particular colour because the perennial has finished blooming, consider planting an annual of the same color to carry on that color throughout the season.  I love my Japanese Double Fern Leaf Peony.  Unfortunately, it is finished blooming by the end of June.  Planting a clump of Calliope Dark Red annual pelargoniums or a dark red tea rose near the peony will continue that splash of color until fall.

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Japanese Fern-Leaf Peony Interspecific Calliope Dark Red Pelargonium Ingrid Bergman Hybrid Tea Rose

Large mono-color clumps of annuals will add interesting focal points to your garden.  Adding a highly fragrant plant is even better. This combo of all purple was a real hit with the sweet perfume of the heliotrope (which I started from seed). This whisky barrel is located near my patio table and bloomed all summer.  Plants included are: Dwarf Marine Heliotrope, Scaevola, Ipomoea, Cypress grass and Verbena.


I have also done some all-white containers, but my personal preference is pink or purple, as you may have noticed.  Here's my attempt at all white.


Some annuals to consider for an all-white or moon garden are Monte White Lavatera (tall flowerbed plant) and Verbena (great filler/spiller in a container).  There are some really nice zonal geraniums, petunias and large-flower bacopa that will add more interest to a white themed garden.  Silver foliage also fits well into a white garden. A couple of fantastic silver foliage plants are Dichondra Silver Falls & Silver Mist Licorice.

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Lavatera Verbena Acidanthera

Mono-color planting is not for everyone.  My garden is full of different colors...some hot, some not.  One of the design techniques to help the colors flow or tie together is color echoing (repeat of color).  Here's a Picotee Cosmo with a hardy shrub rose.  I love the partnership and echo of color.


I also use color echoes in my baskets & containers.  Opera Supreme Pink Morn has a yellow throat which is complemented by Limoncello Yellow Petunia.  This Lantana also has the same colors.

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Opera Supreme Pink Morn & Limoncello The combo Lantana

Let's not forget that green is also a color.  I had a nice surprise one year when my cup & saucer annual vine formed a heart shape in this perennial bed. I also plant Dreams petunias as a border plant in all my flowerbeds.  My favourite mixes of the Dreams are Waterfall Mix and Wild Rose Mix.  Both bring the blue and pink color into the flowerbed to repeat the colors in the windowboxes.

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Adding a splash of color in shady areas can be challenging at times.  Last year I placed a gorgeous 12-inch pot in an area that had too many tree roots to dig.  The pot was buried about halfway.  This was a nice ball of color that really highlighted a dark spot.

Dragon Wing Begonia

There are many interesting varieties of coleus available.  Most have a shallow root system and grow very well in containers. Don't be too hasty putting them out. They need warm day and night temperatures to flourish. Using foliage color to repeat colors is always an option.

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I hope you will consider adding a little annual color theme to your garden this year.  This is a great time to plan it.

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Lavatera Silver Cup Annuals, Perennials, Shrubs & Roses Pavlova Dark Blue Aster

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Lovely! by plantladylin Oct 15, 2014 4:14 PM 30
Untitled by Allan Feb 8, 2014 9:12 PM 1

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