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Somewhere Over the Rainbow, How to Plant by Color

Somewhere Over the Rainbow, How to Plant by Color

Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly, troubles melt like lemon drops, and gardens bloom with an abundance of hues. With so many attractive colors, how do you choose which plants suit you and your space? Don’t cower like our favorite frightful lion. Placing suitable color families in your garden can enhance your home, reflect your personality and maybe bring in a bluebird or two. All it takes is a little heart, some brains, courage, and most importantly, a color scheme. 

Red Shoes on Yellow Bricks

Analogous colors are a great starting point for planting by color. Analogous colors create a comfortable color family that incorporates your favorite color without looking too monotone. Just grab your favorite color, let’s say a ruby red, and find its two-color neighbors. So for red, you could pair oranges and yellows. 

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Try red, purples, and blues if you want a moodier color scheme. Nothing makes you feel more fantastic than a garden bed filled with Catmint ‘Walker Low’, Indigo Spires, Tropical Red Salvia, and Gulf Penstemon. Since we are planting on the cool side, grey foliage and ground spreaders would be perfect for filling those bare spots.

Are you looking for something bright and fresh? Liven it up with Buttercups, Butterfly Weed, or Cut Leaf Coneflower. Oranges, yellows, and rich greens make a delightfully cheery landscape. Don’t forget the foliage! Abelia 'Twist of Lime' has attractive leaves striped with green and yellow that incorporate nicely into this color scheme.


Emerald City beyond the Poppy Field

Complimentary colors develop contrast and kinship when combined in a garden space. The broad field of red poppies leading to the green Emerald City is a fantastic example of how to make your favorite color, ruby red, clack their heels with their compliment, virden emerald green. It is a love story that's practically wicked! 

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Speaking of dropping the house down, let's stir up some controversy with a yard full of contrasting colors. Break your beds down into rainbows like a Gertrude Jekyll garden, and leave the scarecrow and your neighbors jumping off their rack. Red goes with green, orange fits with blue, and yellow matches with purple. Some plants already come in complementary color pairings. Blue Morning Glories holds a delightful orangey-yellow center, while Fall Asters is bright purple from its yellow centers. Experiment with your flower bed’s foliage! Combine your silver ground cover with bright warm-toned blooms. Or create rows of green herbs complimented by red flowers. The sky is the limit, and I don’t see a single cloud. 


A Cast of Characters

If our colorful cast of characters in Oz opened up a community garden, I imagine these would be their favorite picks.


Our hay-stuffed fellow who observes the fields gets all the best grasses. Big Muhly, Little Bluestem, and Sideoats Grama.          

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Tin Man

Glaucous foliage for our silver friend. Silver Ponyfoot, Artemisia, and Woolly Stemodia.

Cowardly Lion

For the most frightful of felines, plants that can't help but hide from the sun are the obvious choice. Buttonbush, Yarrow, and Pigeonberry.

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Dorothy Gale

For our non-native visitor to Oz, plants that find themselves far from home. Canna, Bicolor Iris, Orange Bulbine.

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Glinda the Good Witch 

The witch that floats through the air on bubbles and pink dreams, only the fluffiest of plants will do. Evening Primrose, Anacacho Orchid Tree, and Fall Obedient plant.

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Wicked Witch of the West

Something wicked this way comes, and it's pretty sharp! Fragrant Mimosa,  Spanish dagger, and Agave, lophantha 'Splendida.' 

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Now fly my little pretties! Fly! Off to the garden to add color! Analogous, complimentary, even your favorite 1939 movie characters. There is no limit to your imagination regarding the color themes of your garden. Follow our design ideas or go wild. Just check the forecast before stepping into your garden project. You don’t want to be swept up by a tornado; I heard twisters can be quite the trip.

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