Probably looks like a similar list of reasons you have for
your annual flower criteria too. Well try some of the
combinations I have listed below, because they will meet the
criteria above, and I know you will be happy with them.
1: One of my favorite summer color and plant combinations is
red and yellow celosia, the plume variety, mixed with blue
salvia, with a low border of sweet white alyssum.
• What makes this color combination work is that your color
scheme has the primary colors of red, blue, and yellow,
which strongly appeal to us from childhood.
• This color combination works anywhere. I seldom see people
try this combination, and they should.
• What makes this plant combination work, is that both the
celosia and the salvia have long tall flowers. They
compliment each other and then are offset by the low border
• Try grouping similar flower types and get a little bold
mixing the colors up.
• Have you ever tried purple, yellow, and white with a green
border of low mounding grasses? Get creative.
2: Another good summer mix is a combination of summer
madness petunias, with dusty miller, and a heavy border of
white sweet alyssum.
• What makes this color combination great, is that it is using
a different base color of gray.
• The summer madness petunia has a touch of gray in it that
works really well with the gray in the dusty miller. It is
eye catching because it is not your usual mix of summer
annuals like marigolds.
• It has a sophisticated feel, but can be used anywhere, and
the white border gives it a finished look.
• I tend to put the taller dusty miller towards the back, fill
in with the petunias, and finish with the white alyssum. You
can try this, or do something with a different base color.
What makes this plant combination work is the drastically
different textures. There is enough difference between the
petunias and dusty miller to complement each other, without
becoming too much.
3: A good fall mixture is to use a combination of Iceland
poppies with purple and pink stock, and either a border of
lobelia, or alyssum, or one color of pansies.
• What makes this color combination work is that it is very
soft, and pastel-like.
• When it is fall, and the days are getting shorter, all this
bright color really can pop your yard out.
• They are mostly warm colors, so they contrast with the cool
temperatures at that time of year.
• All these plants are very tall, and have long thin stems.
• Again, try things with similar growing habits, and then
contrast it with something low.
• What also looks good with the poppies and stock can even be
a border of festuca, the low mounding grasses that come in
gray and green.
4: A monoculture
One last idea for you to try, is an entire planting of Teddy
Bear Sunflowers. The Teddy Bear variety are a dwarf, so they
only get a foot or two tall. This is very eye-catching, and
since these, and similar dwarf varieties, can be started
from seed, they are very cost effective.
Lastly keep in mind, less is more
• If you are going to be trying any of the above in
containers, great, but try using a few large containers
instead of lots and lots of little pots.
• Numerous pots tend to look cluttered and haphazard, while a
few large containers placed here and there, look well
planned, and do more to add a nice show of color that is
If you have ever been in one of those moods saying to
yourself, “What could I plant that would be different this
time?” I hope this has helped you answer the question!
Hilary Rinaldi is a professional landscaper who has written for gardening
publications such as “Seed Trade News” and “Houseplant Magazine.” She also has
been a professional public speaker and educator in the gardening industry for
over 20 years sharing gardening information and tips to as many people as she can.