What Should I Plant Together?
Add Early Spring Color
Get an early start on spring with a generous helping of bulbs that pop into bloom just as winter starts to fade. Here, the cheerful yellow flowers of 'Little Gem' narcissus combine beautifully with blue Chionodoxa. Plant both in the fall for spring flowers. Both tolerate full sun and part sun and need well-drained soil (steer clear of wet soil or the bulbs will rot). Narcissus can reach up to 3 feet depending on the variety, but glory-of-the-snow stays under 6 inches, perfect for adding color below the daffodils. Both are hardy in Zones 3-8.
Try Something Different
Just because you might not have heard of a plant before doesn't necessarily mean it's hard to grow. Take Fritillaria for example. This gorgeous spring-flowering bulb isn't that well known, but it comes in a variety of sizes and colors and makes a great companion for other tulips and daffodils. Here, Fritillaria persica, or Persian lily, adds extra interest to a bed of red tulips. Plant in full or part sun and well-drained soil. Both are hardy in Zones 4-8, and can reach up to 3 feet tall.
Mix Herbs and Flowers
Create a colorful and fragrant spring garden by mixing flowering herbs and perennials that bloom together in May and June. In this border, chives and lavender bloom in front of Amsonia, bearded iris, and peony. The variety of heights helps make this garden bed for full sun look full and lush, especially during late spring when everything is in bloom.
Use Roses Generously
Roses, particularly shrub and landscape varieties, blend well with annuals or perennials from spring to fall. In this garden, a bright pink shrub rose is a good partner to iris. The difference in foliage makes for good contrast. Both like full sun and well-drained soil, and are hardy in Zones 5-9 (shrub roses can be hardy up to Zone 3).
Rely on Annuals
Hot, sunny conditions are no match for annuals such as petunia and pentas. These two plants are super easy to grow and will bloom nonstop from May to September in containers or borders. They both also attract bees and butterflies. Give them a spot in full sun with well-drained soil, and they'll add color to your garden all summer.
Raise the Flag
Who can resist a red, white, and blue garden? This flower-packed fence line contains just three varieties, so it's easy to duplicate the look. Surround 'Scarlet' Flower Carpet roses with white sweet alyssum and dark blue lobelia. Plant in full sun and well-drained soil, and this trio will bloom through the fourth of July.
You don't need to live near the equator to enjoy the beauty of tropical plants. As long as the temperatures are hot and humid, tropical plants will reward you with colorful foliage and flowers all summer long. This grouping includes Alocasia, coleus, impatiens, and Cuphea. Unless you live in the southernmost parts of the U.S. (including Florida and Texas), many tropical plants will just be annuals, but they can still thrive for the summer in your garden.
Brighten the Shade
Shady spots in your garden don't have to be barren and boring. There's a host of shade-dwelling annual and perennial flowers that will add instant impact to any location. Here, a carpet of bright green sweet woodruff fronts a bed of Japanese hakone grass and a cluster of blue- and chartreuse-leaf hosta varieties.
With their fernlike foliage and lovely, lacy spires of blossoms in shades of white, pink, red, and purple, shade-loving astilbes make the perfect foil for additional beds filled with hosta. In fact, astilbe (sometimes called false spirea) and hosta are two of the very best shade-garden companions. They look absolutely wonderful mass-planted together in slightly shady locations, especially with variegated foliage and different hues of flowers. Working together, they can add color and bright foliage to areas of your yard with well-drained soil and part sun or part shade. Plus, both are hardy in Zones 4-8 (hostas can survive in Zones 3-9).
Mix Flower Shapes
Choose Your Favorite Colors
Having a beautiful garden in the early summer doesn't mean you have to plant a rainbow of colors. Instead, make a bigger impression by sticking with different versions of the same color. For example, only five species that flower in shades of blue, purple, and lavender were included in these narrow borders. Delphinium, foxglove, allium, agapanthus, and sea lavender are a blue ribbon combination.
This spring bed is full of textures and contrasts. As you consider your purple garden, keep in mind your growing conditions. Just for fun, incorporate something unexpected into the design, such as chives, which also double as edibles.
Most hydrangeas bloom from midsummer to fall, making them ideal partners for mixed flower borders. In this garden, a large 'Annabelle' hydrangea anchors a border packed with perennials and annuals. Other flowers here include begonia, sweet alyssum, Oxalis, phlox, sedum, Lythrum, Torenia, and marigold.
Shady Hydrangea Combo
An empty, shade-filled spot can be the perfect place to play up the contrast in color and foliage between just a few types of plants. Here, delicate lacecap hydrangea pairs with the full blooms of 'Endless Summer', and is complemented by the brightening effect of golden Japanese forestgrass.
Mix Shrubs and Flowers
Make shrubs the backbone of your flower border. They add color and structure to your garden even when everything else is not in bloom. There are also a wide variety of colors to choose from. In this border, the yellow flowers of perennial Heliopsis helianthoides, commonly called ox-eye daisy, are the perfect summer complement to the foliage of dwarf golden privet.
Keep Butterflies in Mind
Butterflies, bees, and other pollinators will flock to your yard when you include a generous supply of nectar-rich flowers in your garden. These creatures are active from spring to fall but are busiest in late summer when the temperatures heat up. Two butterfly favorites include black-eyed Susan and hardy ageratum.
Increase the Color
Double your pleasure by selecting variegated plants with colorful stripes, blotches, or margins. Variegated iris, Iris palida 'Variegata', for example, provides a vertical accent of green-and-white striped leaves from spring to fall. Here, it's paired with the Russian sage that develops clouds of blue flowers in late summer and fall.
Plan for Drought
Keep It Simple
Creating a colorful border can be super easy when you plant different colors of the same species together. Here for example, a mixture of flowering cabbages was all that was needed to give this fall border a big boost of color.
Pair Annuals and Herbs
Try the Classics
You can always depend on the classics, especially if you're a new gardener looking for easy-care flowers that provide instant gratification. Marigolds and zinnias, for example, have both been around for generations and still deserve a prominent spot in beds, borders, and containers.
Plant a Nonstop Flower Show
Winning Border Combo
Grow a Cutting Garden
Keep Foliage in Mind
Instant impact! That's what you'll get when you add colorful foliage plants to your beds, border, and containers. There's no waiting for the plants to mature and bloom; all you need to do is plant them and enjoy. In this border, the rich purple foliage of Alternanthera contrasts beautifully with the spikey, gray-green leaves of cardoon.
Cover the Ground
The best way to keep weeds out of your garden is to plant groundcovers that spread quickly and smother potential invaders. Plus, they'll give your landscape an extra boost of color. This brilliant shade border is kept maintenance-free with a thick planting of silver-leaf Lamium and two varieties of hosta.