With a little extra effort and some planning, it is possible to achieve year-round color in Florida gardens.
The most obvious method of incorporating color into the landscape is with flowers. The range is almost unlimited in flower colors, but that's not the only way to add color. Don't overlook foliage, seed pods, bark or decorative nonplant items when planning your garden. These combined elements can create a dynamic palette.
Basically, there are two schools of thought about color.
The first philosophy is to limit yourself to two or three complementary colors. Supporters of this philosophy maintain that this keeps landscapes from being too "busy." They argue that it is more pleasing to the eye. If your landscape has a formal flair, this is probably the philosophy you will want to follow.
But on the other hand, if you are comfortable with a more informal look, you may want to have more color present. This informality leads to embracing the second school of thought about color, which encourages multiple hues in gardens. This color philosophy is more of an English cottage type of style. It may not appear so on the surface, but in actuality this type of garden design requires just as much planning and thought.
When trying to decide which approach is best for you, look at your house. If you have a formal type of structure, you may want to stick with two or three colors. A more informal structure may lend itself to more colors.
Your personality will also dictate which style is more comforting to you. If you are controlling and more comfortable with the "everything in its place" philosophy, limit the number of colors. If you are more of a free spirit add a greater variety of colors.
Here's a list of flowers by color that may get you started in your quest to enliven your landscape:
Orange adds a spark of interest to any landscape. It seems to scream, "Look at me!" Try English wallflower, nasturtium, pansy, poppy, pot marigold, snapdragon or sweet pea in the spring. For the summer months, plant canna, cosmos, daylily, gerbera daisy, impatiens, lantana, Mexican sunflower, marigold, ixora or zinnia. A planting for fall bloom might include chrysanthemum, cosmos, dahlia, marigold and pansy. Nasturtium, pansy, pot marigold and snapdragons do well in the winter unless it is especially cold.
Yellow is a little mellower and blends well with many different colors. Yellow can be added to a spring garden with daffodil, English wallflower, pot marigold, snapdragon, sweet pea and viola. Pick up some allamanda, black-eyed Susan, canna, sunflower, gerbera daisy, daylily, hibiscus, lantana, marigold, yellow shrimp plant or zinnia for summer yellow. Continue with the same color theme in the fall by adding chrysanthemum, cosmos, dahlia, pansy and viola. Finish the year with a winter planting of nasturtium, pansy, pot marigold, snapdragon or viola.
Pink is a perennial favorite. In the spring, plant English daisy, foxglove, larkspur, pansy, poppy, snapdragon, stock, sweet pea, sweet William and viola. Summer bursts forth with caladium, cosmos, geranium, gerbera daisy, globe amaranth, impatiens, mandevilla, penta, petunia, spider flower, verbena, wax begonia and zinnia. Aster, chrysanthemum, cosmos, dahlia, hardy begonia, Japanese anemone, pansy, petunia and wax begonia can be the stars of the fall garden. For pink winter gardens, plant Lenten rose, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansy, petunia, snapdragon and viola.
Blue and purple
Blue, purple and lavender spring plantings include blue phlox, forget-me-not, larkspur, money plant, pansy, stock, sweet pea and sweet rocket. Continue the same color theme into summer with ageratum, bachelor's button, balloon flower, browallia, cape plumbago, impatiens, lily-of-the-Nile, petunia, blue salvia, verbena and wishbone flower. A fall planting would include aster, mum, dahlia, hardy ageratum, Mexican sage, pansy, petunia and viola. Winter is a time for Bowles Mauve wallflower, pansy, petunia, snapdragon and viola.
Red is a popular flower color. To achieve this look in the spring, plant pansy, poppy, snapdragon, stock, sweet pea or sweet William. Summer should include caladium, canna, coleus, geranium, gerbera daisy, penta, petunia, scarlet sage, verbena, wax begonia or zinnia. A combination of chrysanthemum, coleus, dahlia, petunia, pineapple sage, viola and wax begonia is a good fall planting. Winter plants with red flowers include pansy, petunia and snapdragon.
Plants with white flowers can act as a wonderful background or separate strong colors. In the spring plant English daisy, larkspur, money plant, pansy, stock, snapdragon or sweet rocket. White summer flowers include caladium, geranium, gerbera daisy, impatiens, lantana, moonflower, morning glory, petunia, phlox, spider flower, verbena, wax begonia and zinnia. Lenten rose, ornamental cabbage and kale and petunias are winter hardy.
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Of course there are many more flowers out there, but hopefully this will get you thinking about possible additions to your yard. The color of foliage, bark and even house paint can have an impact on your color scheme so take into account all the different elements of your garden when choosing colors. If the first attempt doesn't meet your expectations, there is always the next season. That's one of the joys of gardening.