Cheer Up! Colorful Flowers

Get inspiration for adding a dazzling rainbow of hues to your garden.

Dahlia Thomas Edison

Dahlia 'Thomas Edison'

This dahlia, 'Thomas Edison' is an oldie, introduced in the 1940s, so you know it’s a winner because it’s still around.

Photo by: Longfield Gardens

Longfield Gardens

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Every spring, you’d think a paint store exploded on my front porch. I can’t help it; I go to the garden center and I want everything, so I bring home red geraniums, gold Gerbera daises, pink ‘Wave’ petunias, blue salvia, orange Calibrachoas, baskets of white impatiens and a few big, green ferns. 

I’ve already got a purple Clematis blooming beside the steps, a container of chocolate-brown and burgundy ‘Stained Glass’ coleus sitting in a shady spot, and a tree rose loaded with coral-colored buds.

Talk about a riot of color. My yard needs a SWAT team to get things under control.

Once I stand back and get a good look at all the colors competing with each other, I regret being so impulsive. Why can’t I make my porch look like the ones in glossy magazines, where all the pots match and the plants play together nicely? There’s no focal point, and certainly no design.

I spend the rest of the growing season shuffling things around, trying to make some kind of reasonable color scheme out of this madness, but it never really works.

I’ve decided I don’t care. The plants make me happy, and the neighbors will just have to wear sunglasses if their eyes ache. I could make myself stick to a few colors that align on a color wheel, but that would cramp my “I love everything” style, and if you can’t be yourself in your own garden, where can you be real?

But now I’ve got an excuse (OK, a little one) for my color madness. Cheerful colors are trendy this year, according to the Garden Media Group, especially with consumers who love nature and gardening. The most popular colors for 2013-2014, they say, are “happy yellow, bright blue, positive pink and healthy green.” 

Hey, that works for me. My porch isn’t chaotic. It’s just happy! Here are some fun plants to try for happy color in your garden, too.


  • Million Bells ‘Tropical Delight’ Calibrachoa – Did you know Calibrachoas only came onto the gardening scene in the 1900s? The first plants were nicknamed "seashore petunias" because they were found growing on rocks in coastal regions. ‘Tropical Delight’ is loaded with pineapple-yellow flowers.
  • Calla Lily ‘Sunshine’ – The yellow blooms on this heat-loving calla practically glow in the sun.
  • Echinacea ‘Cleopatra’ – Named for a butterfly, these single yellow coneflowers have yellow-orange centers. Let the plants set seeds in autumn for hungry birds.


Canna ‘Brilliant’ – I’m planting this at the corner of my porch, where the fire-engine-red flowers can lure hummingbirds. It’s perfect for garden spots that get lots of heat, and it can take summer humidity.


Summer Wave Blue Torenia – It’s hard to find a true blue in nature, but these blooms are a rich, deep color. The plants grow 10-15” high, so they’re nice in containers and baskets.


Dahlia ‘Thomas Edison’ – This dahlia is an oldie, introduced in the 1940s, so you know it’s a winner because it’s still around. I love growing it in the garden for a pop of purple.


Surfinia ‘Summer Double Rose’ – There’s nothing shy about this fuchsia-pink doubled petunia. It’s a trailer with good resistance to wind, rain and humidity.


  • Begonia ‘Sparks Will Fly’ – This plant’s orange blooms really shine against its dark bronze foliage. Tuck this one in the shade.
  • Impatiens ‘Patchwork Cosmic Orange’ – This first tricolor impatiens have orange petals highlighted by a purple star with a white eye in the center. It’s an eye-catcher.

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