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10 Smart Tips for a Colorful Garden

Employ these ten easy tips in your yard to ensure lots of bold, beautiful color.
By Doug Jimerson and Karen Weir-Jimerson

Start Early

Jump-start your spring garden by filling beds and borders with a vibrant assortment of colorful cold-tolerant annual flowers. Some of our favorite early birds include pericallis, pansy, and osteospermum -- which all produce wave after wave of springtime color.

Choreograph Bloom Times

It’s easy to have a perennial garden that shines with color from spring all the way through fall. Include a sampling of perennials that peak at different times of the year: spring, summer, autumn. As one perennial goes out of bloom, there will be others to take over the color show.

Plant Long Blooming Perennials

When choosing perennials for your garden, add species and varieties that have a long season of bloom: black-eyed Susan, coneflower, reblooming daylilies, coreopsis, gaillardia, and pincushion flower. These beauties flower from early summer through fall.

Discover more reblooming perennials for months of color. 

Mix Perennials with Annuals

Add a double dose of color to your garden by interplanting annual flowers with perennials. That way, as the perennials come in and out of bloom, the annuals will provide a bridge of color. Petunias, for example, are a great choice because will scramble around your perennials, providing a steady supply of flowers.

Plant with Wildlife in Mind

Colorful (and entertaining!) hummingbirds and butterflies will flock to your garden if you offer them a generous supply of nectar-rich bloomers. Good perennial choices include butterfly bush, coneflower, black-eyed Susan, agastache, bee balm, and perennial salvia. Nectar-laden annuals include zinnia, petunia, annual salvia, lantana, and pentas.

Plant Roses with Perennials

Add beauty and structure to your garden with roses. Roses make ideal companions for perennials because they bloom all summer long and provide an interesting focal point, particularly in the winter when the perennials have retreated underground. Knock Out is almost always in bloom and grows 3 to 4 feet tall so they rarely overshadow their perennial companions.

Grow Vertically

Frame your garden with spectacular color by adding lush flowering vines to an arbor, trellis, or fence.  Perennial vines such as clematis, honeysuckle, akebia, and jasmine quickly scramble up and over almost any structure putting on an aerial display of flower power. For an exotic twist, use Tropic Escape Mandevilla for a summer’s worth of color.

Plant Colorful Foliage

Enjoy a consistently colorful garden with fantastic foliage plants. Even when they aren’t blooming, these plants remain colorful. Annuals with bold, variegated leaves include coleus, caladium, and canna. Perennials with foliage star power include hosta, coral bells, wintercreeper, and lamb’s ears.

Brighten Shady Spots

Electrify the dark corners of your landscape with shade-loving plants that produce high-wattage blooms. Good perennial choices include hosta, ajuga, columbine, vinca, and astilbe. For quick color, rely on annuals such as begonia, New Guinea impatiens, and caladium.

Go Tropical

Enjoy the tropics without leaving home by surrounding yourself with exotic bloomers and foliage plants. Perfect for a deck or patio, these gorgeous plants are a snap to grow and only require warm temperatures to keep them happy. Our favorites include moth orchids, bromeliads, palms, and Tropic Escape Hibiscus, and Mandevilla. Plus, when fall weather arrives, you can move them indoors to brighten the view.
Learn how to save tropical plants before winter.