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Quick Ways to Add Color to Your Landscape

Transform your landscape into a seasonal showpiece. You don't need a big budget to turn a cookie-cutter landscape into a showplace. All you need is quick color from plants that please for a single season. These speedy growers inject intense color into a yard, then fade with the frost. Whether you garden where winter lingers for months or merely a matter of weeks, capitalize on frost-free seasons by filling your yard with eye-catching beauty. Fast-growing, single-season color offers versatility and the option to change your scenery when you flip your calendar.

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Meet the Quick-Color Players

Annuals and tender perennials grown as annuals headline the quick-color theater. The stars of the show include traditional favorites, such
 as cosmos, zinnia, and impatiens as well as uncommon beauties, such as Mexican petunia, Bidens, and Nierembergia.

See the best blue flowers for your garden.

A true annual sprouts from seed and matures to a seed-producing plant in a single growing season. These fast-track plants feature a wide array of blossom colors, including black-purple, lemon yellow, watermelon-pink, and nearly everything in between. You can choose annuals with a skyscraping stature, such as sunflower or castor bean, or focus on shorter bloomers, such as marigold. Whatever your passion, you can find an annual that's right for you.

Tender perennials also play a prominent role in the quick-color cast. Surviving as perennials in warmer climates, these plants infuse the summer garden with exuberant hues, then die with the frost in colder areas. Tender perennials include familiar faces, such as geranium, coleus, and Lantana, as well as newer introductions, such as grassy sedges, Bolivian begonia, and Angelonia.

Tropical plants with exotic blooms and safari-style leaves add over-the-top color to a seasonal landscape. This group includes banana, Mandevilla, and Canna, which introduce rain forest flair to garden settings. Most tropicals can't withstand even the lightest freeze and must be stored in a frost-free location to ensure winter survival in all but the warmest locales.

Many gardeners, however, happily sacrifice their tropical treasures as the growing season ends and simply purchase new plants the following year. That's quick color.

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Stage a Show

The splash of quick color, whether from flowers or foliage, captures attention and directs the eye. You can use color intentionally to command attention or guide foot traffic, or you can just have fun with it, positioning it to fill the growing season with sizzle. Consider the following uses.

On a patio or deck. Cheery pots of pretty blooms and patterned leaves add warmth and coziness to the outdoor setting.


Tucked into a planting bed. Count on fast-growing beauties to fill in a bare spot, brighten a dull corner, or dress an empty wall with appealing splendor.


Where you need screening. Position quick-color plants -- especially tropical plants or tall grasses -- to create a seasonal privacy screen.

At an entry. Colorful plants elevate an entry from functional to fabulous.

What you do with quick color is limited only by your imagination. Dream up your own garden schemes and be bold enough to take a risk. Above all, get ready to be inspired. Ready, set, grow!

Not Your Grandmother's Annuals

Breeding breakthroughs have transformed common plants grown as annuals into garden all-stars. Add these colorful newcomers to your shopping list.

See our favorite purple flowers.

SunPatiens

SunPatiens make it possible to grow shade-favorite impatiens in sun-splashed spots. These sun-worshiping cuties boast nonstop flower power.

Variegated Snapdragon

Snapdragons aren't just for cool-season color. 'Snap Happy' snapdragon won't swoon as the temperature soars, and it unfurls fun, variegated foliage.

Corkscrew Rush

Foliage plants can play leading roles when you select quirky, colorful candidates like 'Big Twister' corkscrew rush.

Petunia with Panache

Celebrate color by planting an uncommon hue of a traditional botanical friend, such as 'Rhythm and Blues' petunia.

Striped Corn

Use an edible as an ornamental when you plant 'Tricolor' Zea, 'Bright Lights' Swiss chard, or burgundy basil.

Flashy Foliage Hibiscus

Bloomers prized for exquisite flowers now are grown for outstanding foliage, such as 'Mahogany Splendor' hibiscus.

Learn the design basics of garden color.

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