How to use Hot Coloured Flowers

Hot colours in flowers are a real marmite decision, 90% of the time on my flowerbed designs the default choice is to stick with a soft pink, white and blue palette, yet with a little clever thinking it’s the perfect chance to include a highlight of colour or especially later on in the year when mother nature herself is using hot colours you can use them with great effect then in the garden, but what are the rules? And what’s the best way to add them in and the plants to use?

If you watched any of the RHS Chelsea footage a popular vibrant colour combination early on is the purple and orange combo, often seen with purple Alliums underplanted with Orange Geums, it’s very striking and really pops. Sometimes the addition of a hot colour can just be one plant that flowers at a certain time of year for example the Geum, you don’t have to add the whole hot palette or orange, red and yellow. Yellow for example is great when included later on in the year once we get into September and the perfect plant for that is the Rudbeckia, or a type of Helenium. Rudbeckias have their signature yellow daisy like flowers with the black centre and they look delightful underplanted beneath Verbena bonariensis, again wandering through the bed so maybe start by planting one and if you gain confidence buy more or wait a few years and divide and replant. The repetition throughout the bed will make it look like it belongs even more, like it’s seeded its way through, and it will draw the eye through your planting giving a highlight to the other colours.

Sometimes a hot colour may just be a single highlight. Crocosmia Lucifer for example with its tall 5ft stems of sword shaped leaves topped with its arching sprays of vivid scarlet flowers towards mid July, it looks stunning against the cottage garden palette of blues, whites and soft pinks, giving a real focus and with red being the first colour that the eye recognises it’s great for a spot highlight. The sword shaped foliage on its own is also unique giving relief to the softer leaves of other plants, and if you add a grass into the mix even a bronze sedge this gives a very natural feel to the style.

There is nothing wrong with going for the full hot colour palette but I would always add one other colour, blue! This adds depth to the colours as it’s such a great calm but contrasting colour, and a great place to experiment with colour is in your pot plants, perennial planting however will come and go at different times of year depending on when that plant blooms and with clever thinking you can have different colour schemes at different times of year, hot colours in the Autumn, a soft white palette in the Summer, and pinks, whites and blues in the Spring, it’s all possible! If you need a little help in planning and planting schemes our new free flowerbed design service has been very popular, it’s a great way of discussing what you imagine for your flowerbed along with us making suggestions and it then gives you a map of how to create it, as simple as planting by number! Plus we guarantee everything to grow, so out the window goes the usual gamble gardening of what’s going to grow and what’s going to go!



Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems

My Crocosmias don’t flower as much. What can I do?

Crocosmias love to be divided and replanted every 3 years in the Autumn, then in the Spring give them a good feed of Vitax Q4 to help promote flower buds and if you don’t want to divide existing clumps you could always feed them with sulphate of potash as this instigates just the flowering element, dividing them is always good practice as it gives the corms a little more space and then each stem will produce a lot more buds.

Do Geums flower again?

Yes, remove the flower stems and any untidy leaves after the first flush then feed them with a bit of Tomato food and they will then put their energy into producing more flowers, they are great for repeat flowering through the summer with their wispy stems of flowers and there are also soft pinks, yellows and peach coloured varieties available

Are there any hardy varieties of Agapanthus?

Agapanthus are a great blue plant to include with hot colours with them flowering mid summer, their spherical flower shape is also a welcome relief from the other flower shapes in the summer months, a perfect companion to spherical topiary balls with their flowers being on taller stems. The varieties you need to look for are the slender leaved ones, these are hardy as tender Agapanthus need a bit of winter protection and are great for in pots




Plant of The Week

Nepeta ‘Walkers Low’

A perfect counterpart to a hot planting scheme and also a softer palette as well with its masses of blue mounds of flowers. Great for accentuating entrances repeated either side or appearing along the front of a flowerbed or path, cut back and it flowers again up to 3 times.