Hot shades and cool pastels - these 10 color combos for flower pots will give you an instantly elevated backyard
From eye-catching brights to subtly nuanced pastels, the best summer containers show off the most gorgeous color combinations
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Choosing favorite color combinations to pull together a container flower garden look is truly your chance to get creative. Think of it as a composition where you curate a harmonious mix of shades and blooms that most appeals to your artistic side.
As with all garden trends it's important to work out how the flowers fit together and if your preferred combination enjoy the same conditions and growing period as well as looking good. Think about where you'll put your flower pots (sun, shade) and then choose colors that work well against the background too (exterior walls, other plants) as well as with each other.
The best color combinations for flower pots
From vibrant orange and moody purple, to sunset colors and shades of pink, we asked flower experts to share what's inspiring them when it comes to planting up this season's summer containers.
1. Soft pastels
Create a soothing effect with a pastel combo, which is one of the easiest color looks to get right. Big for all backyard color trends right now, just think of soft lavender, pastel blue, shell pink, pale lemon and cream, and you can't go wrong.
'A combination of pastel colors is one of my favorite looks for flower pots,' says Richa Kedia (opens in new tab), founder of nurserylady.com. 'Try mixing pastel pink and lavender petunias, white daisies, and light blue lobelia together for a simple yet pleasing combination.'
Here's a great tip from Maggie Stuckey (opens in new tab), author of The Container Victory Garden (opens in new tab). 'When shopping for a container designed around a certain color, try to purchase all the plants at the same place on the same trip,' she says. 'That way, you can use the shopping cart to pre-stage your combinations. Once you see them side by side, it will be instantly clear whether they blend harmoniously and enhance each other the way you envisioned.'
Just as quickly, you’ll see if something looks not quite right next to something else, and it’s easy to switch while surrounded with other choices.
Mixed pastel petunia seeds, $6.99, Amazon (opens in new tab)
With a mix of 500 seeds in different pastel colors you're to create a soft and dreamy display.
2. Dusky pink
Pink flowers add softness or vibrancy depending on the intensity of their shade but one thing is for sure, a mix of pink shades is always harmonious. From blush and shell pink through coral and salmon to vivid magenta, there's a pink to suit everyone when you're looking for the best color combinations for flower pots.
To get a look like this one, you need to think of a variety of factors in addition to color. 'You will want a bold flower as the centerpiece of your display,' says plant expert Jenny Rose Cary, author of The Ultimate Flower Gardener's Guide (opens in new tab).
'Ideally your central flower will be at least as tall as the pot it is growing in and have as striking flower shape, color or interesting leaf form or texture.' Salvia works well - we've seen it a key shape in flower beds and it thrives in pots, too. The supporting cast of flowers should have contrasting forms, different heights and pleasing colors.
Clary Sage Pink Sundae Salvia seeds, $7.99, Amazon (opens in new tab)
Tall and showy, this dusky pink salvia will become the ideal centerpiece to build a bold flower pot around.
3. Purple and white
A heavenly mix of soft white ruffled ranunculus and pure white Sweet Alyssum paired with purple pansies and pale mauve Erysimum (also known as a wallflower) encapsulates the purple and white look to perfection.
You can mix it up too by switching round your purple and white colors by trying purple ranunculus and purple Sweet Alyssum with white pansies and white Erysium instead. Either way, everything segues together beautifully in this flexi color scheme, and all the flowers are long lasting and easy to look after too.
Plant expert Erinn Witz (opens in new tab), founder of seedsandspades.com, is a big fan of this combo. 'One of my favorite color combinations is purple and white,' she says. 'I planted a few containers with that color scheme last year, and loved the high contrast look. I like to plant sweet alyssum around the perimeter of a pot. It’s a naturally draping plant that spills dramatically over the edges.'
Sweet Alyssum seeds, $4.99, Amazon (opens in new tab)
Delicate purple flowers trail over the side of pots, their hint of white in the petals just adding to the prettiness.
4. Classic white and green
Colors come and colors go but the combination of green and white is my all-time favorite. When it comes to the best color combinations for flower pots it always feels fresh and it's so easy to get right too.
This summer pot design is one of mine from last year. I filled a big deep cauldron-style container with masses of white cosmos daisies I grew from seed. I love these flowers above all else for summer pots as they flower for months and you can snip a few for the house too. Their soothing feathery foliage works as a great filler.
I mixed in some dwarf lupins from the garden center, bought as baby plants but they soon shot up. I loved the contrast of the pointy spires of lupins popping up among the floaty petals of the cosmos. It was a thrown together combo that worked really well and I'm so mad I didn't snap the whole thing.
5. Cool blues
Blue flowers are scarce in the garden so all the more reason to celebrate them by putting them in the spotlight as a solo act. The ball-shaped clusters of starry petalled agapanthus look particularly decorative potted up in Corten planters, while mop-headed hydrangea are a good match for aged terracotta pots. Both are the perfect poolside plant accessory.
The joy of containers is that they're movable too and can be repositioned to suit the occasion. 'There's nothing quite like a thriving container garden to bring a pop of color and natural beauty to your doorstep, poolside, deck, balcony or just about anywhere else you want in your outdoor space,' says Christina Djokoto of seasonalsplendour.com (opens in new tab), who specialises in seasonal planter design.
Other striking blue flowers to plant up in big summer pots include the tall spikes of delphinium, lupins and echium.
Blue hydrangea plant, $20, Amazon (opens in new tab)
A staple of that blissed out, bleached out Hamptons aesthetic, blue hydrangeas are full of vacational vibes. Tricky to grow from seed, buy as a plant instead.
6. Green and pink
When it comes to the best color combinations for flower pots, green is a go-to color as it blends and buffers. It works either by bringing colors together or can separate intense colors from one another. Meanwhile pink flowers often want to be the center of attention so green can be an ideal companion.
'Put the colors pink and green together and you have the perfect combination,' says Susan Brandt (opens in new tab), co-founder of bloomingsecrets.com. 'Just look at pictures of pink cherry blossoms with green grasses in Japanese gardens and you’ll see what I mean.'
Susan recommends Sweet Potato Vine Marguerite, Zinnias 'Envy' and 'Queen Lime', and Echinacea 'Greenline' as great choices of green plants for sunny spots. For pink plants that thrive in sunny spots she recommends Calibrachoa 'Cabaret® DivaPink', Dahlia 'Firepot', and Cosmos 'Candyfloss Pink Sunrise'.
7. Sunset shades
This one is an easy combo if you think of the burnished colors of a flaming sunset and transfer them to summer container ideas. Take your starting point as the red and orange blocks on the color wheel, the red hot spectrum, then have fun choosing vivid brights to get the look.
'When choosing flowers for your summer containers and displays, consider not only the color but also the height and texture of each plant,' says landscape gardener Michael Shah of gardencareva.com (opens in new tab). 'Mixing different heights and textures can create a more interesting display.'
When selecting the best color combinations for flower pots, it's also important to consider the bloom time and growing conditions of each plant to ensure they will thrive together in the same pot. So be sure to check plant labels ahead of purchase.
8. Coral pink
Experimenting with different combinations is the best way to find your own favorite colors and flowers. One of the greatest joys is stumbling upon a combination you come up with yourself that really works, like pairing up co-ordinating shades of the same color.
For a delightfully romantic pink summer theme choose flowers in warm shades of peach, coral or salmon pink rather than harsher magenta hues. 'Pink can lean towards coral on the warm side,' explains Jenny Rose Cary, 'or they can have a slight blue undertone that makes them read as cool colors.'
All lilies thrive in summer containers so position them near a garden path or seating area so that you can get up close to enjoy both their fragrance and color.
9. Bold brights
'Choose bright and vibrant colors when selecting flowers for summer containers and displays,' says plant science expert and founder of smartgardenhome.com Henry Bravo (opens in new tab). 'Bright colors will stand out in the summer sun and create a cheerful atmosphere. Think about a combination of red, yellow, and purple.'
Brightly colored flowers attract pollinators too and can really boost curb appeal. However too many brights, or in the wrong combinations, can appear garish and have the opposite of the desired effect.
'Try the rule of three to get the best color combinations for flower pots,' suggests Christina Djokoto. 'This means limiting the featured colors in each combination to no more than three to keep the look cohesive, and prevent a chaotic appearance.'
10. Customized mix
A pot of joyful dahlias is perfect for accessorizing your backyard conversation pit or other hang-out spot. They are a great idea if you want to customize your flower color with accessories like seat cushions or bench throws as there's a paint swatch style choice available to make your selection from.
Dahlias provide a profusion of color during the summer months and pretty much come in every shade apart from blue. In addition, you can take your pick from varieties in every height, shape and size imaginable to keep your summer container look interesting.
Choose a full sun spot with a little late afternoon shade, and water deeply a few times a week to keep the beauty of it going right through summer.
Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Easy Gardens and Modern Gardens magazines. Her first job on glossy magazines was at Elle, during which time a visit to the legendary La Colombe d'Or in St-Paul-de-Vence led to an interest in all things gardening. Later as lifestyle editor at Country Homes & Interiors magazine the real pull was the run of captivating country gardens that were featured. Having studied introductory garden and landscape design as well as a course in floristry she is currently putting the skills learned to good use in her own garden where the dream is establishing a cutting garden.
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