Container Gardening Tips

Color in Garden Planters

Colorful garden plantersOne of the first decisions you need to make when planning your container garden, is what colors you want to display in your outdoor planters. Color comes not only from flowers ~ but also the plant foliage and the color of your garden planters.

Consider the amount of sunlight on your garden in the morning, at mid-day and early evening.

You will also want to consider the growing conditions of the location of your planters, as well as the surrounding features such as walls, deck railings, furniture and other plantings.

Shaded areas can appear brighter by using light-colored plants. Try these flower colors in garden planters in the shade:

  • light pink
  • light yellow
  • lavender
  • pale blue
  • white flowers

Surround dark plants in the shade with lighter-colored plants so they don’t disappear into the background.

Garden planters in the full sun can handle brightly colored flowers. Pastels will appear faded and washed out in bright sunlight. Try these bold colors in a sunny garden:

  • reds
  • oranges
  • bright yellows
  • deep blues
  • purples

To create a unified look throughout your container garden, try to stick to two or three colors. Consider not only the flower color, but also the color of the plant foliage and even the planter. Color preferences are purely personal and unique ~ express yourself with the colors you choose for your garden.


Basic color theory will also help you create the color effect you are looking for in your garden planters. Use the color wheel at right to consider the following color combination types:


Harmonious colors are next to each other on the color wheel and have a soothing effect. These color combinations include blue and violet, orange and red, and orange and yellow. Using harmonious colors unifies a garden while still allowing a range of color. Harmonious colors might include two colors and a range of shades such as red, pinks and orange or blue, mauve and purple.


Complementary colors are opposite from each other on the color wheel. These are high in contrast and add drama and excitement to your container garden. Vibrant combinations include yellow and violet, orange and blue or green and red varieties are examples of complementary colors.


A monochromatic color scheme is composed of plants of the same color. You may have an all-white garden or a garden that is “in the pink.” Create extra interest in a monochromatic garden by using a mix of tones or shades of the same color in addition to various textures, shapes and sizes.

Warm colors include red, orange and yellow. They tend to make flowers appear closer than they really are. Cool colors such as blue, violet, silver and white lend a calming effect and make plants appear farther away in the garden.

Remember to consider foliage color in any of these container garden color schemes.


People have very distinct expectations for their gardens. They may want to enjoy a calm and relaxed feeling, or they may want to feel revived and full of energy. Flower colors and color combinations have the power to create both effects!

Pastels and muted colors such as soft pink, lavender, lilac, peach and pale yellow, set a peaceful and tranquil mood. Pastel flowers look best when viewed from a short distance and look washed out in the bright, mid-day sun. Pastel colors can be used in distant parts of the garden to give the illusion of being even further away.

Bright or primary colors include red, orange, magenta and bright yellow. These colors will energize the garden, show well in the bright sunshine and attract your eye from a great distance. Bright colored flowers will steal the show if combined with less intensely colored plants.


White flowers are in a class by themselves. They blend well with most colors and can provide a transition between colors that do not normally work well together. White flowers can create a beautiful display in garden planters in the evening when combined with well-placed, soft lighting.