Seasonal Splendor (Planting for Color)
Each season brings with it new colors and emotions. The goal of this fact sheet is to aid the homeowner in selecting plant material that will offer season-long interest in the landscape. Different colors can add variety, but too many may create chaotic color schemes that are aesthetically offensive. Consistency in a landscape is accomplished when the same color schemes are repeated.
When planting for color, it is good to remember some general rules. Cool colors, such as shades of green, blue, and soft pastels, blend well together and have a tendency to make an area seem larger in appearance. These colors also suggest calmness or tranquility. Warm colors, such as shades of red, orange, and yellow, jump out visually and act as colorful accents. These colors imply lively and inviting feelings.
Complementary colors are those colors that most optimally accentuate each other. Yellow is considered complementary to purple. Red is complementary to green. Orange is complementary to blue. White is one of those universal colors which can complement all of the other colors.
There are many different plants which can add seasonal splendor to a landscape. Many plants display an array of flower colors throughout the season. Some plants dazzle our senses by offering tantalizing textures while others put on a spectacular show in the autumn as their colorful leaves proclaim the end of the season. When planting for color, it is important to think of the importance of foliage effect along with flower color.
With literally thousands of options in choosing plant material, it can oftentimes be overwhelming to homeowners in deciding which plants to buy. Catalogs and magazines are great for getting ideas. It is also a good idea to visit the nurseries and garden centers periodically throughout the year to see what plants are in bloom. Choosing a variety of plants with staggered bloom times, along with those that add unique textures and distinctive leaf colors can add seasonal interest to any landscape.
The following is a list of some of the more common perennial plants and their approximate bloom times along with plants that offer variety to the landscape in the form of texture and seasonal leaf color.
For simplification purposes, plants with flower times during March through mid-May are grouped into spring flowering plants. Plants flowering from mid-May through mid-August are grouped into summer flowering plants. Plants flowering during mid-August through October are grouped into fall flowering plants. While this fact sheet gives a general list of chronological color, some of the plants listed may crossover into other seasons – often, deadheading or removing of the spent blossoms encourages re-bloom. As a general rule, however, most perennials will provide blossoms for the space of 3-4 weeks. As always, it is important to remember that Mother Nature is consistently in charge. Weather variations, along with other climatic changes, can influence bloom time as well as color intensity.
|Flowering Cherry||tree||white, pink|
|Flowering Crabapple||tree||white, pinks*|
|Flowering Plum||tree / shrub||pink*|
|Horse Chestnut||tree||white, pink|
|Serviceberry||tree / shrub||white*|
|Bridal Wreath Spirea||shrub||white|
|Lilac||shrub||white, pink, purples|
|Oregon Grape Holly||shrub||yellow*|
|Basket of Gold||perennial||yellow|
|Bleeding Heart||perennial||pink, white|
|Coral Bells||perennial||white, pink*|
|Creeping Phlox||perennial||white, pink, purple|
|English Daisy||perennial||white, pink|
|Forget-me-not||perennial||white, pink, blue|
|Perennial Salvia||perennial||purple, white|
|Pineleaf Penstemon||perennial||orange, yellow, red|
|Japanese Honeysuckle||vine||yellow, white*|
|Turkish Veronica||ground-cover||purple, blue|
|Vinca (Myrtle)||ground-cover||purple, blue*|
* Indicates other ornamental features such as leaf color or fruit interest
|Elderberry||tree / shrub||white*|
|Japanese Tree Lilac||tree||white|
|Purple Robe Locust||tree||purple, pink|
|Silk tree (Mimosa)||tree||pink|
|Smoke Tree||tree / shrub||pink*|
|Bluemist Shrub||shrub||blue, purple|
|Bumald Spirea||shrub||pink, white*|
|Butterfly Bush||shrub||white, purple|
|Hydrangea||shrub||blue, pink, white*|
|Potentilla||shrub||yellow, white, orange|
|Rose Mallow||shrub||pink, white, red|
|Rose of Sharon||shrub||white, pink, purple|
|Agastache||perennial||orange, pink, purple|
|Bridges' Penstemon||perennial||red, orange|
|Delphinium||perennial||blue, white, pink|
|Evening Primrose||perennial||yellow, white|
|Gaillardia||perennial||orange, red, yellow|
|Gaura||perennial||white, pink, red|
|Husker Red' Penstemon||perennial||white*|
|Ice Plant||perennial||pink, yellow*|
|Lupine||perennial||purple, pink, white|
|Pike’s Peak’ Penstemon||perennial||purple|
|Pincushion (Scabiosa)||perennial||purple, pink|
|Purple Coneflower||perennial||purple, pink, white|
|Red Hot Poker||perennial||red, orange, yellow|
|Red Rocks’ Penstemon||perennial||rose, pink, white|
|Siberian Iris||perennial||purple, blue, white|
|Trumpet Vine||vine||orange, yellow|
* Indicates other ornamental features such as leaf color or fruit interest.
|Autumn Purple' Ash||tree||purple|
|Bigtooth Maple||tree||pink, red, orange|
|Flowering Pear||tree||red, orange, purple|
|Northern Red Oak||tree||red, orange|
|Serviceberry||tree / shrub||orange, red|
|Sumac||tree / shrub||red, orange, yellow|
|Swedish Aspen||tree||yellow, orange|
|Washington Hawthorn||tree||orange, red|
|Zelkova||tree||bronze, orange, red|
|Burning Bush||shrub||red, hot pink|
|Viburnum||shrub||red, orange, purple|
|William Penn’ Barberry||shrub||bronze, orange, red|
|‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum||perennial||pink*|
|Aster||perennial||purple, pink, white*|
|Japanese Anemone||perennial||pink, white*|
|Boston Ivy||vine||red, orange, yellow|
*Indicates flower color.
|Blue Atlas Cedar||tree||evergreen|
|Blue Spruce (dwarf cultivars)||tree||evergreen|
|Red-twig Dogwood||shrub||twigs / branches|
|Winter Creeper Eounymus||shrub||evergreen|
|Feather Reed Grass||ornamental grass||texture|
|Fountain Grass||ornamental grass||texture|
|Hardy Pampas Grass||ornamental grass||texture|
|Maiden Grass||ornamental grass||texture|
- Hannebaum, G. Leroy. (2002). Landscape Design: A Practical Approach. 5th Edition. New Jersey. Prentice Hall.
- Dirr, A. Michael. (1997). Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc.
- Valleau, M. John. (1998). Heritage Perennials: Perennial Gardening Guide. 3rd Edition. Abbotsford, British Columbia. Valleybrook International Ventures Inc.
JayDee Gunnell, Horticulture Agent, Davis County Extension