10 Garden Designs for Different Color Schemes

Choosing colors for the garden allows us to play with exciting combinations and moods. Color combinations create lively, energized spaces or peaceful and serene ones. They’ll complement a home or contrast it beautifully through striking opposites. Explore ideas for different color schemes with garden designer Katherine Rowe.

garden color schemes. Close-up of a flowering bed of colorful zinnias in a sunny garden. Zinnias are vibrant and eye-catching annual flowers known for their striking colors and diverse forms. They feature sturdy stems with lance-shaped leaves arranged opposite each other. Atop these stems, zinnias produce large, daisy-like flowers with multiple layers of petals in a wide array of hues, including shades of red, orange, pink, and white.


Color is one of the most exciting parts of the garden and the first thing our eyes process when we take in a space. It’s also one of the most impactful tools for creating the garden’s aesthetic and unifying the landscape. Using a consistent color scheme of complementary or contrasting hues links garden plantings through repetition and variety.

There’s a lot to color theory, first developed by Leonardo da Vinci, to draw relationships between colors in nature. Sir Isaac Newton created the color wheel to demonstrate color combinations. In garden design, these offer guidelines for color-based decisions for successful combinations. Here, we’ll explore central color schemes with accompanying plant selections as garden examples.

Color in the Garden

Close-up of blooming Chrysanthemum flowers in a sunny garden. Chrysanthemum flowers, commonly known as mums, display a diverse range of shapes, sizes, and colors. They feature sturdy stems with dark green foliage and produce large, daisy-like blooms with multiple layers of petals. The petals come in a wide spectrum of colors, including shades of white, orange, and purple.
Create a garden palette that reflects your style and vision.

The main priority in developing your garden color scheme is to choose colors that appeal to you and the mood you want the garden to convey. Vibrant colors like reds, oranges, and yellows energize and activate a space, while pastels and whites lend peace and serenity. 

Look at colors that complement the house to create cohesion and harmony between the home and garden. These may be blended hues, similar colors, or a striking contrast of opposite shades. Repeat your color scheme throughout the yard in sweeps or patches for impact. This repetition unifies the landscape, regardless of garden size or whether a driveway, path, or specimen tree divides it.

Incorporate plants of varying heights and textures for a layered landscape of trees, shrubs, and perennials, and embellish with annuals for high color. For all-season appeal, include plants with color at varying times of year. Spring and summer abound with options; look to foliage color and late-season bloomers for fall interest and fruits, berries, and winter bloomers for cool-season color.

Monochromatic Garden Color Schemes

Monochromatic designs rely on a single color in a variety of hues, shades, and tints. Repeating the same color is an easy way to harmonize the landscape, unifying the aesthetic while adding interest through varying light and dark shades. A mix of foliage, form, and texture makes the design dynamic.

Victorian-era creations of color-themed gardens revolve around hues of a particular color arrangement. The Gilded Age revived this concept, and it always stayed in style. Blues, pinks, and whites became central themes of a single planting arrangement. 


Blue gardens appeal to our senses of sight and smell. Originally designed in mass plantings of all shades of blue, sweeping plantings create an unbeatable sea of pleasing shades. 

Cool blue blooms contrast beautifully with dark green, lime, and silvery foliage. Spring flowering bulbs like hyacinths and bluebells make an easy blue-inspired planting with a significant impact. 

Hydrangea ‘Bloomstruck’

Close-up of a flowering Hydrangea 'Bloomstruck' bush in a garden. Hydrangea 'Bloomstruck' is a stunning shrub renowned for its abundant and showy blooms. Its large, mophead flowers are composed of numerous individual florets that form dense, rounded clusters atop sturdy stems. The flowers typically exhibit a captivating blend of colors, ranging from deep violet to blue. The glossy, dark green foliage provides an attractive backdrop for the colorful blooms.
Invite summer’s allure with vibrant hydrangea hues in your garden.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea macrophylla ‘PIIHM-II’ PP25,556
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 3-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Hydrangeas add a bounty of blooms to the landscape, their summer flowers overflowing against a leafy backdrop. They create an unparalleled show of white, blue, and pink flower clusters in panicles, lacecaps, or mophead forms.

For a blue-themed garden, opt for a gorgeous bigleaf hydrangea cultivar like ‘Bloomstruck,’ ‘Nikko Blue,’ or ‘Blue Wave,’ among others. ‘Bloomstruck’ is part of the popular Endless Summer series, the first hydrangeas to bloom on both old and new wood. These cold-hardy, repeat bloomers begin blooming in late spring and early summer and continue throughout the warm season.

‘Blue Wave’ is one of the hardiest hydrangeas, with lacecap blooms that fade to pink as they mature. ‘Nikko Blue’ boasts mophead flowers that start light green and transition to blue. Glossy large leaves complement the showy blooms on the bigleaf cultivars.

Hydrangeas prefer partial shade and dappled sunlight. Ensure consistent moisture throughout the growing season. True to their name, hydrangeas need regular water to thrive.


Close-up of blooming Agapanthus africanus in a sunny garden. Agapanthus africanus, commonly known as African lily or Lily of the Nile, is a striking perennial plant prized for its elegant and architectural appearance. It features clumps of long, strap-like leaves that arise from a central crown, forming a fountain-like shape. Rising above the foliage on tall, sturdy stems are spherical clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of blue each comprised of multiple individual florets.
Grace your garden with agapanthus’ elegant bell blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Agapanthus africanus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-11

Agapanthus produces lovely rounded clusters of bell blooms atop tall stems. Depending on the cultivar, agapanthus flowers are blue, lavender, or white and rise above deep green, strappy leaves. Each umbel holds 20 to 100 flowers. 

Evergreen, arching leaves are thick and glossy, attractive even when agapanthus aren’t in flower. With its airy blooms, agapanthus makes excellent border plantings and container specimens. 

Agapanthus grows best in full sun to partial shade. It’s an adaptable perennial native to southern Africa, tolerant of drought and heat. Ideal soils, though, are fertile, moist, and well-drained. In cold climates, overwinter agapanthus indoors, where it grows well as a houseplant in bright light.


Close-up of a flowering Salvia rosmarinus plant in a sunny garden. It features slender, needle-like leaves that are arranged densely along woody stems, giving the plant a bushy and compact form. The leaves are a dark, glossy green color on top and a silvery-white underneath. Rosemary produces clusters of small, tubular flowers in shades of purple which attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
Elevate your garden with aromatic rosemary and vibrant blue blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia rosmarinus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

Rosemary brings form and fragrance to the garden, with scads of blue blooms covering evergreen stems in the summer. Herby foliage is highly aromatic, perfect for clipping for scent and culinary goodness.

A Mediterranean plant, rosemary thrives in full sun with very well-draining soil. It’s a drought-tolerant, carefree perennial with multi-season appeal.

Look for upright varieties like ‘Barbecue’ or ‘Arp’ for a stiff texture. Cascading forms like ‘Huntington Carpet’ trail and spill to soften garden spaces.


White gardens provide cooling respite and peace, a break from more colorful garden areas. They highlight silver, gray, white, and green shades. The most famous white garden originates at England’s Sissinghurst Castle, introducing an elegant and pure garden theme.

Look to dogwoods, silverbells, and serviceberry for layered plantings for vertical interest.

White annuals & flowering bulbs like daffodils, snowdrops, and tulips make gorgeous accents to a white-themed garden. Silvery foliage like artemisia and dusty miller enhance the display. 

Add a dash of occasional dark purple if you dare (alternanthera, strobilanthes, and dark sweet potato vine make good accents). Night-blooming plants like cereus and datura grow beautifully in white gardens for a moonlit glow.


Close-up of a blooming Gardenia jasminoides in a sunny garden. It features glossy, dark green leaves arranged in opposite pairs along its branches, providing a lush backdrop for its exquisite blooms. The flowers are large, waxy, and white, with distinctive creamy-yellow centers.
Transform your garden with the timeless elegance of gardenias.
botanical-name botanical name Gardenia jasminoides
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 4-8’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-11

Gardenias feature bright white blossoms that pop against their dark green, glossy leaves. The intensely fragrant flowers fade to creamy white or yellow as they age. 

Gardenias bloom in late spring and early summer (and year-round in warm climates). Gardenias are available in numerous cultivars for size, form, and flowering. Some of these evergreen shrubs grow large and bushy, while others are dwarf and arching.

Gardenias are best suited for gardens in the American South. They require acidic, well-drained, consistently moist soils. They’ll grow as container specimens in colder climates, overwintering indoors. A bit finicky, potted gardenias do best if moved outside as soon as temperatures warm in spring.

Ginger Lily

Close-up of a Hedychium Ginger Lily in bloom among dark green glossy foliage. It features tall, erect stems topped with lush, lance-shaped leaves arranged in an alternate pattern. It produces showy, fragrant flowers in terminal spikes that emerge above the foliage. These flowers are white.
Grace your garden with the exotic allure of ginger lilies.
botanical-name botanical name Hedychium spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3-6’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-10

Ginger lilies bear whirling blooms atop leafy stalks with a sweet summer fragrance. Flowers in crisp white emerge in clusters, and each blossom resembles a butterfly in petal arrangement and with long stamens.

In the white-themed garden, ginger lilies provide a bright tropical backdrop to other flowering perennials. Ginger lilies are tough plants where hardy and grow as annuals or container plantings in cold climates.

Ginger lilies do best in full sun in moist, organically rich soils with good drainage. They spread by rhizomes; cut and dig roots to control growth if the spread and density become too great. 


Close-up of flowering Tanacetum parthenium plants in a sunny garden. It features upright stems adorned with clusters of small, daisy-like flowers with white petals and yellow centers. The foliage consists of deeply lobed, fern-like leaves.
Embrace the charm of feverfew with its fragrant blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Tanacetum parthenium
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-3′
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

Feverfew is an old garden favorite with bushels of petite daisy-like flowers, aromatic foliage, and herbal uses. Blooms cover the mounding plants from early summer through frost. Foliage is feathery with a high fragrance.

Sun-loving feverfew is easy to grow in moist, well-drained soils. It self-seeds hardily, so pull any unwanted volunteers and deadhead spent blooms to prevent unwanted seeding. Deadheading also proliferates flowering.

Use feverfew in naturalized areas where it can reseed freely or in borders and rock gardens. Clip feverfew throughout the flowering season to enjoy in floral arrangements and to bring its fresh, camphor scent indoors.


Pink gardens bring subtle, delicate tones along with vivid punches of color, depending on the pigment. This rosy hue gained popularity in the Victorian era as roses became increasingly cultivated, and the language of flowers was a regular study. Flowers hold meaning as they have for centuries, and the Victorians used flowers symbolically to communicate sentiment. Pink represents grace, gentleness, playfulness, and happiness. 


Close-up of a blooming Viburnum bodnantense against a blurred background of a sunny garden. Viburnum bodnantense is a captivating deciduous shrub celebrated for its elegant appearance and fragrant blooms. It features upright branches adorned with clusters of small, tubular flowers. The flowers have a delicate pink shade.
Delight in the year-round beauty of viburnum’s fragrant blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Viburnum × bodnantense ‘Dawn’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 8-10’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-7

Viburnum species provide fragrant and colorful blooms and garden interest in all seasons. Flowers appear in small clusters or luscious snowballs in white to rich pink hues. 

Viburnum × bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is a winter bloomer with rosy-pink tubular flowers that give way to red berries that turn dark in the summer. Viburnum carlesii, or Korean spice viburnum, is showy with snowball clusters of pink blossoms that mature to white. Both selections boast a sweet, spicy fragrance.

Viburnum tends to be a low-maintenance, easy-care shrub with multiseason appeal. They prefer average soils that are neither too moist nor too damp. 

Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’

Close-up of 'Sarah Bernhardt' peonies in bloom in the garden. It features finely divided foliage of dark green color. It produces large, fully double flowers with ruffled petals in shades of soft pink. The blooms are held atop sturdy stems.
Indulge in the luxurious beauty of ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ peonies.
botanical-name botanical name Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-3′
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

The dreamy peony flower is among the most decadent in the garden, and the historic ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is no exception. Huge, fully-petaled pink blooms feature fuchsia flecks and a sweet fragrance of floral and citrus notes. 

‘Sarah Bernhardt’ showcases prolific flowering, massive blooms, and a robust habit, earning it the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. It is also drought tolerant, cold-hardy, and a long-lived garden performer.

Peonies abound in purple, pink, yellow, and white. Plant them in full sun, with some afternoon protection from direct rays. They grow best in moist, well-drained soils.

Garden Phlox

Close-up of Phlox paniculata plants in bloom in a sunny garden. It features erect stems adorned with lance-shaped leaves arranged oppositely along their length. It produces large, rounded clusters of fragrant flowers atop the stems in a dazzling pink color. Each flower has five petals and a prominent, contrasting center.
Adorn your garden with the radiant blooms of garden phlox.
botanical-name botanical name Phlox paniculata
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Garden phlox is a lovely staple of the perennial bed, brightening the summer garden with tall domes of pink flowers. It’s a showy and fragrant native perennial that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds with flowers from summer until frost.

The ‘Fashionably Early’ series is a hybrid selection of tall garden phlox with an early and long-lasting bloom time and exceptional disease resistance. ‘Fashionably Early Princess’ is rich pink, and ‘Fashionably Early Flamingo’ bears bright pink flowers.

For best growth, phlox needs organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun to partial shade. Deadhead spent blooms to encourage reblooming. Ensure good air circulation and remove any dropped plant material in late fall to prevent mildew diseases in the coming seasons.

Analogous Garden Color Scheme

Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel. The shades share common properties of blended primary colors and naturalize beautifully for a visually harmonious arrangement.

Red, red-orange, yellow, and yellow-orange are examples of analogous colors. Using them in garden design means incorporating light and dark variations of these, like pinks, apricots, golds, and deep reds – and everything in between as you choose. As long as the colors are in the same family, they’ll blend successfully. The look of analogous schemes can be warm or cool, depending on the selection of adjacent colors. 

Peach Shades

Here, we’ll incorporate plants with peachy tones for a crisp, warm, inviting garden scheme. Orange, yellows, and white create peach shades. Peach is neutral among other hues in the garden, and analogous peach hues create a dreamy garden aesthetic.

Rose ‘Peach DriftⓇ

Close-up shot of a flowering 'Peach Drift' rose bush in a garden with a blurred background. The Rose "Peach Drift" is a delightful groundcover rose cherished for its compact size and abundant, peach-colored blooms. It forms a dense mound of glossy, dark green foliage that serves as a lush backdrop for the profusion of semi-double flowers. These blooms feature delicate, ruffled petals in shades of soft peach, with hints of pink and apricot.
Transform your landscape with the effortless beauty of Drift roses.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa ‘MEIggili’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1.5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-7

DriftⓇ roses are ground cover roses with florific vigor and disease resistance. Rosa ‘Peach Drift’ creates a carpet of soft peach blooms among dark green, lustrous foliage. Clusters of petite double flowers bloom nonstop from spring until the first hard frost.

Exceptionally easy to care for and disease-resistant, drift roses withstand high heat, humidity, and cold winters. They need little else than full sun and rich, moist, and well-draining soils.

Available in numerous colors, these star performers make excellent border, walkway, and container plantings. They’ll bloom all season without much of a break.

Heuchera ‘Peachberry Ice’

Close-up of Heuchera 'Peachberry Ice' in the garden. Heuchera 'Peachberry Ice' is a captivating perennial prized for its striking foliage and compact growth habit. It features mounds of rounded leaves with a unique peachy-orange coloration. The leaves are heavily marbled with pink-orange veins.
Elevate your garden with the vibrant hues of Heuchera.
botanical-name botanical name Heuchera ‘Peachberry Ice’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to full shade
height height 8-10”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Heuchera, or coral bells, are North American native perennials, mostly evergreen in warmer climates. Prized for their foliage, heuchera hybrids have green, purple, bronze, black, red, or orange leaves, often in mottled tones. Their showy leaves add exciting visual interest and high contrast to the garden, brightening shady spots.

Heuchera offers many selections in peach shades. ‘Peachberry Ice’ features large, ruffled leaves in rich peach and mellow orange. Heuchera ‘Georgia Peach’ has large, rounded leaves in silvery peach with deep rose tints and venation. It tolerates heat and humidity and handles sunny conditions.

Grow coral bells in a dappled shade area of the garden. They’ll need rich, organic soils with good drainage.

Astilbe ‘Peach Blossom’

Close-up of blooming Paeonia japonica 'Peach Blossom' in a sunny garden against a blurred background. It forms dense clumps of finely divided, fern-like foliage. The plant produces feathery plumes of small, densely packed flowers in shades of soft peach and creamy white. These blooms rise above the foliage on slender stems, creating a stunning contrast against the lush greenery.
Illuminate shady corners with Astilbe’s vibrant summer plumes.
botanical-name botanical name Paeonia japonica ‘Peach Blossom’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Astilbe brightens the shade garden with frothy, foamy, colorful plumes in summer. This long-lived perennial is a garden favorite for its unique form and color in shade situations.

Astilbe japonica ‘Peach Blossom’ is a Japanese astilbe loaded with bloom spikes in peach shades with touches of pink. Japanese astilbe features glossy green leaves with tinges of red and dense, pyramidal bloom spikes. ‘Peach Blossom’ is an early-season bloomer.

Plant astilbe in groups for impact and pair with hosta, columbine, ferns, and heuchera. Seed heads develop post-bloom for lasting garden interest. Astilbe is relatively easy to grow in evenly moist soil.

Complementary Garden Color Scheme

Complementary colors lie opposite each other on the color wheel. The human eye processes them in high contrast (think violet and yellow, orange and blue, and red and green). We often see this in single flowers, where a yellow eye dots purple petals. The dynamic juxtaposition enriches the look. This color scheme includes shades and hues from soft and mellow to vibrant and rich, or both!

Violet and Yellow

We’ll explore a few plants in shades of violet and vibrant yellow for a striking contrast. To allow the eye to adjust, use more of one color as dominant in the planting arrangement.


Close-up of a flowering Heliotropium arborescens plant in a sunny garden against a backdrop of green foliage. It features dense clusters of small, intensely fragrant flowers in shades of purple. These blooms are held atop sturdy stems. The foliage consists of large, oval-shaped leaves with a deep green color and a slightly fuzzy texture.
Enliven your garden with heliotrope’s vivid hues and sweet fragrance.
botanical-name botanical name Heliotropium arborescens
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

Heliotrope brings a burst of deep violet blooms and dark green leaves. These, and its sweet fragrance, make this old-fashioned annual a garden favorite. Flat clusters of star-shaped flowers in purple-blue or lavender cover compact plants from spring until frost.

Heliotrope is low maintenance, though it blooms best in sunny garden locations with protection from direct afternoon sun in hot summer climates. Intense heat stresses heliotrope, and high humidity leads to powdery mildew. 

Ensure good air circulation and take care not to overwater heliotrope, as it prefers rich, consistently moist soils. Heliotrope’s carefree growth, rich blooms, and vanilla, fruity scent bring long-lasting interest to the annual display.


Close-up of flowering Coreopsis plants in a sunny garden. Coreopsis, also known as tickseed, is a delightful perennial prized for its cheerful and abundant blooms. It features upright stems adorned with delicate, daisy-like flowers in shades of yellow with contrasting centers. The foliage consists of slender, lance-shaped leaves that form dense mounds.
Elevate your garden with waves of sunshine from Coreopsis.
botanical-name botanical name Coreopsis spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-10

Coreopsis energizes the garden with a profusion of sunshine-yellow blooms. It’s one of the first flowers to spring up and the last to fade. At its peak in mid-summer, waves of yellow brighten the landscape.

Lance-leaved coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) is the most common coreopsis with signature feathery golden ray petals with yellow centers. Easy to grow, C. lanceolata is winter-hardy and drought-tolerant.

Coreopsis reseeds readily in the landscape. It’s a favorite nectar and pollen source for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. Songbirds forage on the seeds in fall and winter.


Close-up of blooming Asters in the garden. Their sturdy stems bear clusters of vibrant blooms in shades of purple with yellow contrasting centers. The foliage consists of slender, lance-shaped leaves arranged alternately along the stems.
Extend your garden’s vibrancy with native aster’s autumn blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Aster spp., Symphyotrichum spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6″-8′
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Asters, native to North America, are easy-to-grow garden mainstays with deep blue-purple, daisy-like flowers with contrasting yellow centers. They’ll put on a showy display well into fall as other blooming plants begin to fade.

Asters’ late-season blooms support pollinators in the seasonal transition from summer to fall. The late blanket of color bridges the garden display with an infusion of color.

Asters prefer consistently moist, organically rich soils, though some are drought tolerant. Allow good air circulation and ensure soils have good drainage to prevent foliar diseases.

Primary Garden Color Scheme

Primary color schemes use red, yellow, and blue in varying shades and tints to create a smooth blend in the garden. They provide vibrant contrast and complement to energize the garden and invite exploration.

Red, Yellow, and Blue

Feature varying hues of each color in a mass planting for a vibrant display. Here, we’ll look at bold bloom examples in vibrant pigments, but any tint or shade of the primary colors works beautifully. Tone them down or punch them up as it works for your garden. 


Close-up of blooming Geraniums in the garden. It features compact clusters of deeply lobed, slightly succulent leaves that form dense mounds or cascading foliage. Large, rounded clusters of bright red flowers are above the foliage on sturdy stems.
Enhance your garden with the timeless beauty of red geraniums.
botanical-name botanical name Pelargonium x hortorum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

Cherry red geraniums are iconic garden classics. The rich, color-saturated flowers and true green, ruffly leaves of the common garden geranium are unmistakable. Thick stems hold vivid bloom clusters above leafy branches. 

Geraniums need at least four to six hours of sunlight for best blooming. Offer protection from direct afternoon sun in hot climates. They thrive with regular water in well-drained soils, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.

Geraniums make stunning mass border plantings or container specimens. Pinch off spent blooms to encourage more flowers and for a full, leafy plant.


Close-up of Heliopsis helianthoides blooming in the garden. It features upright stems adorned with lance-shaped leaves arranged alternately along their length, forming dense clumps or mounds. The plant produces large, daisy-like flowers with golden-yellow petals surrounding a prominent brown or yellow center, resembling miniature sunflowers.
Invite summer’s radiance with native heliopsis in your garden.
botanical-name botanical name Heliopsis helianthoides
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Heliopsis, commonly called oxeye or false sunflower, is native to the central and eastern United States. In summer through fall, golden sunflower-like blooms with fuzzy yellow button centers rise above deep green leaves.

Heliopsis’ showy flowers attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Birds eat the seeds post-bloom, and leftovers will self-seed.

Stiff, sturdy stems grow to five feet, while dwarf varieties fit smaller spaces. Heliopsis adapts to various soil conditions, making it an unfussy, easy-to-grow perennial.


Close-up of blooming Ageratum houstonianum against a blurred background of green foliage. Ageratum houstonianum, commonly known as flossflower, is a charming annual prized for its fluffy and delicate blooms. It features compact mounds of oval-shaped leaves arranged along sturdy stems. It produces clusters of small, fluffy flowers in shades of blue, creating a soft and cloud-like appearance.
Grace your garden with the enduring blue of ageratum blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Ageratum houstonianum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6-30”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Ageratum, or floss flower, features tufts of true blue flowers that bloom from May through October. The genus Ageratum holds approximately 43 species of annual or perennial herbs.

A. houstonianum is noted for its blue, feathery bloom clusters, which add a soft haze to the garden display. The floss flower’s delicate look and delightful fragrance add to its charm.

Ageratum is somewhat drought-tolerant but performs best in moist, well-drained soil. Grow them in sunny to dappled light garden locations. 

Pastel Garden Color Scheme

Like pink gardens, pastel shades create a romantic look that soothes the senses. Another Victorian-era inspiration, pastel themes rely on soft and delicate hues to blend the garden beautifully.

Use splashes of silvery foliage as a backdrop for pastel shades. Russian sage, artemisia, dusty miller, and lamb’s ear make glittery additions. The beauty of pastels is that the muted hues all go together. For this sweet color scheme, let’s look at a few heirloom and classic garden favorites.


Close-up of a flowering Syringa vulgaris plant against a blurred background. It features upright branches adorned with heart-shaped leaves arranged oppositely along the stems. It produces large, showy clusters of fragrant flowers in shades of lilac.
Embrace spring’s arrival with lilacs’ fragrant lavender blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Syringa vulgaris
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 8-16’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-7

Lilacs welcome spring with clusters of lavender panicle blooms and a glorious fragrance. Their fluffy blossoms produce nectar that attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.

There are hundreds of lilac cultivars with single or double blooms ranging from creamy white to rose to purple. Highly aromatic, their intense fragrance fills the garden.

Lilacs need cold winters to set buds and don’t do as well in climates with high heat and humidity. Try those bred for improved heat tolerance in southern zones like Syringa patula ‘Miss Kim’ or Syringa × hyacinthiflora.

Rose ‘Duchesse de Brabant’

Close-up of Rosa 'Duchesse de Brabant' flowering plant in a garden against a blurred green background. It features thin climbing stems with dark green foliage and clusters of large, double blooms.Each bloom boasts soft, pale pink petals that unfurl, reminiscent of old-fashioned roses.
Experience the timeless elegance of ‘Duchesse de Brabant’ roses.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa ‘Duchesse de Brabant’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4-6’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-9

‘Duchesse de Brabant’ holds decadent double blooms in a delicate rose pink with a classic, old garden rose fragrance. The nodding blooms grace an upright, slightly spreading shrub rose form.

‘Duchesse’ blooms in flushes throughout spring, summer, and fall. It’s well-suited to warmer climates, where it blooms even longer. It boasts exceptional disease resistance and tolerates heat and humidity.

‘Duchesse de Brabant’ is an Earth-KindⓇ rose rigorously tested for landscape performance, without pesticides, and with low water requirements. Like all roses, ‘Duchesse’ benefits from good air circulation and well-draining soils.

Russian Sage

ose-up of Salvia yangii flowering plants in a sunny garden. It features tall, wiry stems lined with finely dissected, silvery-gray foliage. It produces abundant spikes of small, lavender-blue flowers that rise above the foliage.
Add ethereal beauty to your garden with Russian sage.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia yangii
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Russian sage shimmers in the pastel garden with silvery stems, gray-green leaves, and sprays of purple-blue blooms. Even when not in flower, it provides a graceful backdrop to soft hues. Tubular blooms lace tall stems to create an airy quality among the delicate foliage. 

Russian sage blooms reliably from summer until frost. It earned the Perennial Plant Association’s Perennial Plant of the Year award for its performance and showy form, 

Grow Russian sage in full sun and well-draining soils to prevent fungal root rot. ‘Denim in Lace’ and ‘Crazy Blue’ are disease-resistant varieties suited for climates with high humidity and rainfall. Russian sage performs beautifully in high heat with dry conditions.

Multicolor Garden Color Scheme

Multicolor, or complex schemes, create a riot of color in the garden for a lively, energized landscape. A blend of multiple colors is the hardest to pull off for a unified design; the human eye generally looks for a focal point or a place to rest, and a mixed scheme may lack this. Use color repetition to anchor the design. Repeat colors consistently for harmony, and consider using one as a dominant repetitive occurrence over the others.

Here, we’ll use zinnias, cosmos, and yarrow as examples —excellent cutting and cottage garden plants. They lend a wild, naturalized look to the garden in a colorful array. Repeating a single color of yarrow throughout a mix of colorful cosmos and zinnias helps to punctuate the scheme.


Close-up of colorful blooming Zinnia elegans in a sunny garden. It features sturdy stems adorned with lance-shaped leaves arranged alternately along their length. It produces large, daisy-like flowers in a kaleidoscope of colors, including shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, and white. These blooms are available as single and semi-double.
Infuse your garden with the vibrant hues of zinnias.
botanical-name botanical name Zinnia elegans
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Zinnias bring dynamic color to the annual display with their large, vibrant, double-disc flowers. The blooms range in color from white to magenta to lime. Heat-loving zinnias bloom nonstop from early summer through frost.

Zinnias grow easily from seed, and mixes contain a wide variety of colors for any multicolor scheme. While not required, they respond well to deadheading and cutting for fresh floral arrangements. More blooms will follow.

Zinnias need good air circulation, well-drained soil, and full sun for best health. In areas like the South with high heat and humidity, try disease-resistant varieties like the tall ‘Queeny Lime’ and ‘Profusion,’ a dwarf zinnia loaded with successional blooms. 


Close-up of blooming Cosmos in a sunny garden. Cosmos is a delightful annual flower cherished for its airy and abundant blooms. It features slender stems topped with finely dissected, fern-like foliage that forms a bushy and feathery backdrop for its vibrant flowers. It produces large, daisy-like blooms in shades of pink, white, and purple, with contrasting centers. These blooms are held atop long, wiry stems.
Paint your garden with the effortless beauty of cosmos blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Cosmos spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-6’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Like zinnias, sun-loving cosmos produce loads of colorful blooms throughout the warm season. Ray flowers “float” on tall, airy stems. Daisy-like flowers in vivid shades of yellow, apricot, bright pink, lavender, red, and chocolate (and many more) grow easily with little care. 

Cosmos reseed naturally and grow in hot, dry conditions with variable soils. They need no fuss; too much water, fertilizer, and organic richness hinders plant vigor.

Grow cosmos quickly from seed in drier spots of the garden – the more, the better, for color and to attract pollinators. The delicate flowers make a more significant statement en masse.

Yarrow ‘Red Velvet’

Close-up of a flowering Achillea millefolium 'Red Velvet' plant against a blurred green background. It features finely dissected, fern-like leaves that form dense mounds of foliage. It produces flat-topped clusters of tiny, rich red flowers that resemble velvet. These blooms rise above the foliage on sturdy stems.
Elevate your garden with the vibrant blooms of yarrow.
botanical-name botanical name Achillea millefolium ‘Red Velvet’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 30”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Yarrow is a native North American perennial with large, flat flower heads that rise in clusters above feathery, fernlike foliage. It thrives in the heat, making it a good partner for zinnias and cosmos. Using a single color of yarrow among multicolor mixes helps unify the arrangement through repetition. Its contrasting texture adds variety.

Achillea ‘Red Velvet’ is a rich, red dazzler with prolific bloom clusters atop sturdy stems. Its form remains compact, and flowers retain their vibrant hue without fading as they age. 

There are many outstanding yarrow cultivars in varying heights and colors. This low-maintenance, full-sun, drought-tolerant plant needs little more than a sunny spot with well-draining soil to flourish.

Dark and Dramatic Color Scheme

A rich color scheme evokes drama and romance in the garden and lots of fun and unique plants to explore. Velvety reds, maroons, deep purple, and chocolates create a moody style reminiscent of Victorian Gothic gardens.

Incorporate trees with dark foliage or flowers for a striking vertical layer to add interest. Smoke trees, redbuds, Japanese maples, and chocolate mimosas add dramatic flare.

Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’

Close-up of a flowering Weigela florida 'Wine and Roses' plant against a blurred background. It features arching branches adorned with deep burgundy-purple leaves. It produces clusters of trumpet-shaped blooms in shades of rich pink, creating a vibrant contrast against the dark foliage.
Revitalize your garden with the timeless beauty of Weigela.
botanical-name botanical name Weigela florida ‘Wine and Roses’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Weigela harkens on old-fashioned gardens with flowering hedgerows. It’s an ornamental flowering shrub with modern selections in varying sizes and colors. 

Wine and Roses’ features deep burgundy-green leaves and rose-pink blooms. This cultivar is darker than its predecessors, with shiny purple leaves all season. Flowers flush profusely in late spring and free flower throughout the summer. The trumpet blooms attract hummingbirds and other pollinators.

‘Wine and Roses’ is the recipient of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Gold Medal Award. Weigela is generally disease-free and easy to grow in full sun in soils with medium moisture. 

Dahlia ‘Spartacus’

Close-up of flowering Dahlias 'Spartacus' in a garden. Dahlia 'Spartacus' is a stunning and flamboyant tuberous perennial prized for its large and showy blooms. It features sturdy stems topped with dark green foliage that provides a lush backdrop for its vibrant flowers. It produces large, fully double blooms with overlapping petals in shades of rich red, resembling intricate and layered pom-poms.
Command attention in your garden with Dahlia blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Dahlia ‘Spartacus’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-11

Dahlia ‘Spartacus’ makes a bold statement in the garden. Its deep, velvety red flowers reach eight to ten inches in diameter and atop strong stems. Ruffly flower petals curve slightly for a full, decorative bloom.

‘Spartacus’ is considered a dinnerplate dahlia due to its huge blooms (the size of literal dinner plates). It dominates the garden on towering stalks four to five feet tall. Gardeners prize ‘Spartacus’ for its robust growth, adaptability, and competition-worthy excellence as a cut flower.

Dahlias grow as annuals where they are not winter hardy. They perform beautifully in full sun with well-drained, loamy soils. Dinnerplate dahlias like ‘Spartacus’ may need staking because of their height and weighty blooms.

Hollyhock ‘Nigra’

Close-up of blooming Alcea rosea 'Nigra' against a blurred background. Alcea rosea 'Nigra', commonly known as black hollyhock, is a striking biennial prized for its tall stature and dramatic dark blooms. It features erect stems adorned with deeply lobed, dark green foliage that forms a dense basal rosette. It produces tall spikes of single, cup-shaped flowers in a rich shade of velvety black.
Grace your garden with the majestic beauty of ‘Nigra’ hollyhocks.
botanical-name botanical name Alcea rosea ‘Nigra’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 5-8’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-9

Hollyhocks are old-fashioned garden biennials or short-lived perennials with stunning summer blooms along tall, straight stems. The heirloom ‘Nigra’ features deep, chocolate-red blooms on stems that reach five to eight feet tall.

‘Nigra’ is a dramatic garden addition both in stature and color. Stake bloom stalks and shelter tall stems from the wind. Hollyhocks grow in gorgeous colors and sizes, perfect for the cutting garden and the back of the border. 

Hollyhocks grow best in full sun with moist, rich soils. Because hollyhocks reseed vigorously, they are invasive in some areas.

Foliage-Inspired Scheme

Foliage and texture are key components of any planting scheme. Leaf colors create a color scheme of their own, and beautiful foliage combinations make impactful garden designs. They can be monochromatic with blended shades of green or combined with foliage in blues, silvers, and purples for high contrast.


Close-up of Hosta Hosta is a beloved perennial prized for its lush and verdant foliage. It features large, heart-shaped leaves, forming dense clumps. The foliage comes in a deep green color with white variegated edges.
Transform your shade garden with the diverse beauty of hostas.
botanical-name botanical name Hosta spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 4-30″
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Hostas enrich the shade garden with lush, sculptural leaves. Their leaf shapes range from broad to strappy to curly, offering textural contrast and visual interest. Diverse tones of blue-green, emerald, and variegated foliage make hosta a versatile choice among foliage-inspired color themes.

Hosta grace the garden in seemingly endless varieties, unmatched in unique foliage. Tall bloom scapes emerge in early summer in lavender and white, floating above the leafy base and attracting hummingbirds.

Hostas prefer partial to full-shade garden locations. Morning sun benefits bright or variegated varieties to promote color. Provide well-draining soil with consistent moisture, especially early in the growing season, as plants get established or break dormancy.

Persian Shield

Close-up of the Strobilanthes dyerianus plant with its stunning foliage. It features large, lance-shaped leaves with striking iridescent purple and silver markings that shimmer in the sunlight. The foliage has a velvety texture and is arranged symmetrically along sturdy stems, forming a dense and bushy plant.
Enliven your garden with the captivating hues of Persian shield.
botanical-name botanical name Strobilanthes dyerianus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

Strobilanthes, or Persian shield, is a striking tropical plant with iridescent purple leaves edged in deep green. The long, lance-shaped leaves reach a full color of metallic royal purple and yield a lush look indoors or out, ideal for growing in containers or as a warm-season annual. 

Consider using strobilanthes in foliar contrast to variegated, lime, or chartreuse foliage. Its colorful foliage combines nicely with silver plants like dusty miller and artemisia and with white, lavender, or purple flowers. Yellow blooms give the perfect pop for vibrant contrast to darker leaves.

Grow strobilanthes in full sun in northern climates, with partial shade or dappled light in southern zones (or at least with protection from bright afternoon sun). It grows quickly with regular water in rich, organic soils.


Close-up of Artemisia 'Powis Castle' covered with water droplets. Artemisia 'Powis Castle' is a striking perennial prized for its silvery-gray foliage and graceful form. It features finely divided, fern-like leaves.
Enhance your garden with the elegant silver foliage of Artemisia.
botanical-name botanical name Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6-9

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ features silver, feathery foliage, and a loosely mounding form. This hybrid perennial differs from its mugwort relatives because it doesn’t spread as aggressively. Its fine texture and gray leaves add variety to the planting arrangement. 

‘Powis Castle’ thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. It’s a rugged perennial and tolerates drought but withers in overly wet conditions. In high heat and humidity or periods of prolonged saturation, leaves may wilt and drop.

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ spreads through rhizomes, creating tufted mounds of silvery gray foliage. When brushed, it has a camphor scent. ‘Powis Castle’ is ideal specimens in the perennial border, white or pastel garden, or mixed foliage display.

Final Thoughts

Color-themed gardens fit any overarching garden style. They are monochromatic (single-color shades), analogous (blended shades in the same color range), or complementary (opposite shades for contrast). Look to nature for inspiration or to your favorite colors. Choose hues that appeal to you and your garden mood, and build plant selection around it.

Use a variety of plant forms and textures as you would in any other garden arrangement. And have fun! Playing with color is one of the most exciting parts of gardening.

A vibrant garden teeming with life, showcasing an array of azalea bushes. Blossoms paint the scene in hues of pink, white, and purple, creating a picturesque display of nature's beauty and diversity.

Ornamental Gardens

15 Beautiful Plants for Mass Planting

Mass planting is a simple way to achieve a harmonious landscape befitting any garden style. Design your garden with groups of plants “en masse” in drifts for high impact and visual appeal. Join landscape designer Katherine Rowe in exploring mass planting selections for gorgeous garden arrangements.

native plants spring. Close-up of a flowering Echinacea purpurea plant in a spring sunny garden. Echinacea purpurea, commonly known as Purple Coneflower, boasts striking daisy-like flowers with prominent, raised centers surrounded by vivid, purple petals that gracefully reflex downward.

Ornamental Gardens

21 Native Plants to Sow in Spring

It’s never too late or too early to sow some wildflower seeds, but spring is an ideal time to start many native plants from seed. There are some beautiful flowers and grasses that you can start early in the spring and even enjoy flowers in the first year. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen introduces 21 native plants you can sow in the springtime.

train climbing rose. Close-up of profusely blooming climbing roses on tall vertical wooden posts forming a pergola in a garden. These roses enchant with their graceful and vigorous growth. Their slender stems are adorned with glossy green foliage, with finely serrated edges. The plant produces clusters of bright pink, double flowers cascading gracefully along the length of the stems


How to Train Climbing Roses

Climbing roses thrill the garden with vertical color and form, not to mention fragrance. For a robust, overflowing display of blooms with ample foliage, learn how to train climbing roses with gardening expert Katherine Rowe.

Ornamental Gardens

9 Best Varieties of Japanese Forest Grass

Do you want to add some visual interest to your shade garden? Japanese Forest Grass offers contrasting foliage and easy maintenance - perfect for those shadowy corners of your garden! In this article, gardening expert Christina Conner shares her top picks for species of this beautiful grass that will add flow and movement to your shade garden.

mother's day flowers. Close-up of blooming calendula in a sunny garden. Calendula presents a charming appearance with its upright stems adorned with lance-shaped, slightly hairy leaves. Atop these stems, cheerful daisy-like flowers in shades of bright orange and yellow emerge in profusion, each bloom boasting multiple layers of delicate petals and a prominent central disk.


21 Flowers to Plant this Mothers’ Day

If you’re looking for a fun activity for yourself and your mom or are a flower-loving mother yourself, you can’t go wrong with planting flowers this Mother’s Day. In this article, gardener Briana Yablonski covers 21 flowers to plant in your garden this Mother’s Day.