Fresh Color Combos (Zones 4 – 7)

If you’re looking for a way to use color to kick-up your summery containers or add drama and excitement to beds and borders, we have six not-too-obvious combinations to try.

And, don’t stop here. Next time you’re at the garden center, grab a cart and start playing with colors!

(Love this zesty-yet-romantic combination that’ll bloom late summer into fall? It’s Abbey Road MasterwortSeptember Charm Japanese Anemone, and Crown Of Rays Goldenrod.)

Marsala and Midnight

While it’s tempting to temper the mood of dark foliage with a few lighter accents, there’s no denying the impact of a near-monochrome display of reddish-black flowers and foliage. Elderberry plus three to five of each of the other selections massed would be a stunner.


Black Lace™ Elderberry
Zone: 4 – 7

Intense, purple-black foliage is finely cut and accompanied by creamy-pink flowers in spring and black fruits in fall. Full sun.

burgundy iceberg rose 300x300

Burgundy Iceberg Shrub Rose
Zone: 5 – 9

The dark side of Iceberg rose with blooms in deep-purple with creamy accents. Extremely disease resistant. Full sun.


 Obsidian Coral Bells
Zone: 4 – 9

Stunningly black, shiny, rounded leaves with burgundy-black stems and dark flowers held aloft. Full sun.

Citrus and Cinnamon

Hot chocolate hued flowers and foliage are glamorous, but they need brightness to jumpstart their effect. Contrasting with brilliant yellows and oranges makes browns seem, well, browner. This would be a lovely combination for a bed, but also a large planter.


Solar Flare Prairieblues™ False Indigo
Zone: 4 – 9

Tall, stately, elegant spikes of pea flowers emerge brilliant yellow and fade to deep orange as they age. Partial to full sun.

Rudbeckia Summerina Brown

Echibeckia™ Summerina™ Brown
Zone: 6 – 10

Marries the fast growth of rudbeckia with the vigor of echinacea. Huge flowers can last two to three months. Full sun

Orange New Zealand Sedge 300x300

Orange New Zealand Sedge
Zone: 6 – 10

Finely textured, bronze-green leaves age to electric orange in the cool season. Partial shade to full sun

Persimmon and Pink

We’re not sure where the advice to never pair pink and orange comes from (“they clash!”) because this duo not only has dynamic energy, but also a glowing sort of warmth. Start with bluestem grass and then mix and mass the penstemon and coneflowers. All summer bloom!


Rock Candy™ Pink Penstemon
Zone: 4 – 9

Sizzling-pink flowers with a white throat adorn this drought and heat-tolerant neat and compact perennial. Full sun.

"Blue Heaven" (TM) little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)ornamental grass selected and released by the University of Minnesota, Photographed in SIlverwood Park, St. Anthony, MN.  The ornamental grass was released by the U of MN, Agricultural Experiment Station in 2006. Seed collected in Benton County.  The selection is tall, 45-55", about 12" higher than average Minnesota little bluestem.  Clumps are 30-36" wide, very upright and resistant to lodging.  Foliage color is medium to dark blue and burgundy in summer, brighter burgundy and red to pink in the fall.  Unique characteristics are its tall, upright form and summer and fall foliage color.   "Using Native and Ornamental Grasses In the Landscape," Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station project #21-030, principal investigator: Mary H. Meyer.

Blue Heaven Little Bluestem
Zone: 3 – 10

What’s cool about this grass is how it starts the summer in pink and burgundy hues and ends in rich copper. Full sun.


Double Scoop™ Mandarin Coneflower
Zone: 4 – 9

Beautiful, vibrant, large, deep orange double blooms that sail through summer’s heat with little care. Full sun.

Iron and Ice

Greys are elegant neutrals that are most often used to change the temperature of other colors (they can be warming or cooling depending on the shade) but a simple palette of greys has a clean, crisp sophistication. Try this combo in a moonlight garden.


Powis Castle Artemisia
Zone: 4 – 9

Beautiful perennial valued for its dissected silvery-gray foliage that shimmies in a breeze. Full to partial sun.

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Silver Heart Brunnera
Zone: 3 – 8

Bold, silvery-white, heart-shaped leaves provide a dramatic background for tiny blue blooms. Full shade to filtered sun.

Athyrium niponicum 'Branford Beauty'

Branford Beauty Fern
Zone: 4 – 8

A unique hybrid with delicate, finely-divided silvery fronds on upright, rosy-colored stems. Full shade to filtered sun.

Peaches and Plums

It’s pretty hard to go wrong with pinkish, peachy or apricot flowers, but these can fade without something to amplify their bluish or yellowish undertones. For that we turn to purples. Let this honeysuckle wind over a fence under-planted with roses and daylilies.


Peach Drift® Rose
Zone: 4 – 7

Low maintenance, vigorous and cold hardy yes, but you’ll buy it for the big blooms from spring to fall. Full sun.


Peaches and Cream Honeysuckle
Zone: 4 – 9

Compact honeysuckle blooms from spring through summer with vibrant-hued, fragrant flowers. Partial to full sun.


Little Grapette Dwarf Daylily
Zone: 4 – 11

Grass-like leaves are highlighted by lavender-purple flowers on tall stems. Mass for an early summer show. Full sun.

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