Red in the Garden

Learn how the color red affects you and your garden. Then discover the best ways to use red, both alone and in combination with other colors.


Red's Properties

+ enlarge image Red tulips and blue grape hyacinthare a classic springtime match.

Red takes on different properties depending on what colors you pair with it. The most effective framing color for a red-flowered standout is its complement: green. When a border focuses on green foliage, a single red-flower or red-leaf accent truly shines.

Include red in your garden's color scheme by partnering it with silver or white. Silver calms red into good behavior in a border; white offers a crisp contrast to richly colored reds.

Related Slide Show: Best Red Flowers for Your Garden

Use Dark Red

+ enlarge image Knautia macedonica and dill

Write mystery into your garden plots by combining the deep reds, such as burgundy, maroon, and russet, with equally dark purple and chocolate brown. Such sultry combinations create the illusion of depth and hidden distances.

Red berries, twigs, and bark create magic in the winter garden against a snowy background.

See our all-red garden plan!

Tips for Using Red Flowers

+ enlarge image
  • Jarring on a large scale, red tends to dominate a scene. Use it sparingly for best results.
  • In thin, weak spring light, red brightens the entire garden. Summer morning and evening light kindles a glow in red petals that appears harsh in midday sun. In fall, red looks deeper and richer; it has a warming effect.
  • Red flowers (especially tubular-shape ones) signal hummingbirds that nectar awaits.
  • Botanical (Latin) plant names often allude to their color. Cardinalis, coccineus, rosea, rubra, ruber, and sanguineus all refer to kinds of red.
  • Weave red accents, such as linens and candles, into your outdoor living areas for a cheery how-do-you-do when company calls.

Related Feature: Bold Colors for Your Garden

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