This page will discuss the color wheel – and how to use it in your container gardens, patio pots, and landscapes to select combinations of colors that will wow your color wheel world in your flowers and plants.  

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Talking about color is an easy and not so easy thing to do.  Let’s start with the “easy”.

There are some simple combinations you can use right off the bat, like Purple and Yellow, Red and Green (yes – green), and Blue and Orange.  These are examples of “complementary colors” made up of any two pure colors (hues) located directly opposite each other on a color wheel.  

See this example of a Blue and Orange complementary color HERE on my new Pinterest pinboard. I don’t know about you, but the minute I open up my pinterest boards on this topic, my eyes feel a flush of happy.  Just look at that image of the blue and orange flowers, and immediately see the impact.  Isn’t it gorgeous? Doesn’t it speak to you and grab your attention?

So a basic and easy tip, is just go to the color wheel for help.  Look at the color directly opposite of the flower color of your liking and select its complement.  You would be amazed how this one simple step will enhance your color combinations in your container gardens.

My Pinboard, “Color Wheel My World” shows examples of color wheels of all styles, and examples of color combinations of plants to help inspire your coloring juices.


When you visit the nursery, pick your favorite plant.  Then, don’t go for the old standbys, go visit the perennial section, shrubs, or tropical plants – even veggies.  See if you can find a complementary color in the leaf of the primary plant you just selected.

So let’s say for example you picked a purple to blue Delphinium, what is opposite of blue on the color wheel?  Orange.  Go find a plant with foliage containing orange (Coleus is an example), or select an annual that will bloom orange (easy pick: Marigold) for a long period.  These are simplistic examples, but you get the idea.

So you might be thinking, I don’t have a color wheel handy or in my purse when I’m out shopping for plants.  Use the kid trick: ROY-G-BIV (red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet) and make a circle on a scrap piece of paper.  Fill in the letters, using the ROYGBIV trick.

When you use colors directly opposite on the color wheel, the impact is immediate.  It makes each color more vivid and strong. You can even see this if you use a blue pot and fill it with orange flowers.  But as I said, this is the easy way, and it can get more involved and challenging – and FUN.  Yes, fun.  I love looking at colors and can’t imagine my world without them.


The seasons of bloom matter as well.  No point in having a blue and orange combination if the blooms aren’t opening at the same time, right?  So consider this but also remember, foliage is forever.  Pick some foliage colors of an opposite, or again, color surprises are breathtaking too.  Imagine a fruit ripening to a vivid color which is complementary to a bloom in your pot.  Let me tell you – it really makes a combination breathtaking.  Even if that ripening fruit or other bloom is happening for a short period.

To learn more about how to use amazing edibles in mixed container plantings, come see Cathy T at her Garden Talks this season if you are local to East Windsor/Broad Brook, CT.


Some fruit colors transition. Think hot peppers – some start green, turn red, and even purple!  So end of season, think of a bloom that will be complementary to the fruit color.  Fruit can be the jewels a mixed container garden.  Their shapes offer so many varied textures and the colors for many are bright, warm, and hot, but there are cool colors too.

For ideas about which edibles to use in mixed container gardens and patio pots, see this Pinboard:

Having a bad day?  Visit these color inspiraiton Container Crazy Cathy T Pinboards!  It cheers me up immediately – that is for sure.

It will make you happy too.

This one of the Rainbow is my favorite at the moment.

More to follow – this is just the beginning of this page…

Cathy Testa


Don’t forget to check out Cathy T’s Container Gardening Class on May 24, 2014 in Broad Brook, CT.  See also Cathy T’s Garden Talks.

Please share or join this blog by entering your email on the sidebar, you will get updates via email and special offers or coupons of upcoming classes as a Cathy T blog follower!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.