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Plants with red flowers & foliage

By: Sherri Ribbey
Need some showstopping color for your garden border? Grow plants with red flowers and foliage.

Red-flowers-for-your-garden-lead: Tulips in red and white have a strong contrast so you're sure to see them even from a distance.

Red is a color that demands attention no matter where it is — from a red stop sign on a street corner to a mass of red tulips, such as the ones along a path in the photo above, this is a color that says “Hey, look at me!” Red flowers and foliage are great additions to any border style and containers of all types. You're likely to draw in a few hummingbirds, too — they love the color red.

Designing with red flowers and foliage

There are lots of ways to use red flowers and foliage in the garden.

  • Fabulous focal point Place a large plant, such as hardy hibiscus, at the center of planting and no one will pass by without a second look.
  • Create unity Repeating this can’t-miss color throughout the border easily provides a sense of unity.
  • Avoid a view Draw your visitor’s gaze away from an unattractive view, such as the air conditioner with bright shades of red.

Different shades of red

As you add more red flowers and foliage to beds and borders you’ll notice that not all reds are the same and some look better together than others. There's everything from orange-red scarlet to blue-red crimson and not all seed packets or tags will point out these distinctions. The best way to find out if different reds go together is by giving them an audition together. If the colors vibrate unpleasantly go ahead and give another red a try.

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Meet some red flowers and foliage

Take a look at this gallery of red flowers and foliage in a wide range of shades and sizes. There’s sure to be some you can use to bring up the intensity in your garden.

Passion flower (Passiflora ‘Lady Margaret’)

Type Woody vine Blooms Raspberry-red petals with pure white center mostly in summer but sporadically year-round if grown where hardy or brought indoors Light Full sun to part shade Soil Well-drained soil Size 8 to 15 ft. tall, spreading Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11

Verbena (Verbena peruviana Endurascape™ Red)

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Bright red flowers from spring through fall on spreading, trailing plants Light Full sun Soil Moist, well-drained soil Size 8 to 12 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10

Annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus ‘Red Courtesan’)

Type Annual Blooms Large dark red blooms in late summer Light Full sun Soil Well-drained soil; drought-tolerant Size 4 to 5 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide

Fountain grass (Pennisetum advena ‘Fireworks’)

Type Ornamental grass Blooms Pink bottlebrush flowers summer through fall, pink and white variegated foliage glows red in sunlight Light Full sun to part shade Soil Well-drained soil; drought-tolerant Size 24 to 30 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11

Hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Luna Red’)

Type Perennial Blooms Burgundy-red 7- to 8-in. in diameter flowers appear in mid- to late summer Light Full sun to part shade Size 2 to 3 ft. tall and wide Soil Moist, well-drained soil Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 10

Flowering maple (Abutilon Patio Lantern ‘Passion’)

Type Shrub Blooms Bell-shaped red flowers throughout the growing season, hummingbird favorite Light Full sun to part shade Soil Average or moist, well-drained Size 10 to 12 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11

Shrub rose (Rosa Knock Out®)

Type Shrub Blooms Red-pink blooms start in late spring, rebloom through frost Light Full sun Soil Well-drained soil Size 3 to 4 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Penstemon (Penstemon ‘Cherry Sparks’)

Type Perennial Blooms Tubular red flowers from midspring through late summer; hummingbird favorite Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 18 to 20 in. tall, 14 to 16 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9 

Dianthus (Dianthus 'Dynasty Red')

Type Perennial Blooms Lightly fragrant, deep red ruffled flowers bloom best in cool temperatures of spring Light Full sun Soil Very well-drained soil Size 16 to 20 in. tall, 10 to 12 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9

Caribbean copper plant (Euphorbia cotinifolia)

Type Tender shrub Blooms Small white flowers in summer, burgundy foliage and stems Light Full sun to light shade Soil Well-drained soil; drought-tolerant Size 10 to 15 ft. fall and wide, although much smaller when grown as an annual Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

Castor bean (Ricinus communis)

Type Tender shrub Blooms Small yellow-green flowers in summer followed by spiny red seedpods Light Full sun Soil Well-drained soil Size 6 to 10 ft. tall, 2 to 4 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 9 to 12

Caution: All parts of this plant are poisonous so use with care

Tulip (Tulipa Red Cubed™)

Type Bulb Blooms A mix of three different red tulip varieties that bloom successively from early to late spring Light Full sun Size 16 to 25 in. tall, 4 to 6 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 7

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum Emperor 1®)

Type Tree Foliage Dark red foliage that turns brilliant scarlet in fall, interesting red-black bark Size 15 to 20 feet tall, 12 to 15 feet wide Light Plant it in dappled or afternoon shade in hot climates Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8

Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Type Perennial Blooms Red and yellow drooping, bell-like flowers in late spring to early summer; hummingbird favorite Light Part shade Soil Average or moist, well-drained Size 12 to 36 in. tall, 12 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8

Passion flower (Passiflora ‘Lady Margaret’)

Type Woody vine Blooms Raspberry-red petals with pure white center mostly in summer but sporadically year-round if grown where hardy or brought indoors Light Full sun to part shade Soil Well-drained soil Size 8 to 15 ft. tall, spreading Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11

Penstemon (Penstemon ‘Cherry Sparks’)

Type Perennial Blooms Tubular red flowers from midspring through late summer; hummingbird favorite Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 18 to 20 in. tall, 14 to 16 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9 

Verbena (Verbena peruviana Endurascape™ Red)

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Bright red flowers from spring through fall on spreading, trailing plants Light Full sun Soil Moist, well-drained soil Size 8 to 12 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10

Dianthus (Dianthus 'Dynasty Red')

Type Perennial Blooms Lightly fragrant, deep red ruffled flowers bloom best in cool temperatures of spring Light Full sun Soil Very well-drained soil Size 16 to 20 in. tall, 10 to 12 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9

Annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus ‘Red Courtesan’)

Type Annual Blooms Large dark red blooms in late summer Light Full sun Soil Well-drained soil; drought-tolerant Size 4 to 5 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide

Caribbean copper plant (Euphorbia cotinifolia)

Type Tender shrub Blooms Small white flowers in summer, burgundy foliage and stems Light Full sun to light shade Soil Well-drained soil; drought-tolerant Size 10 to 15 ft. fall and wide, although much smaller when grown as an annual Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

Fountain grass (Pennisetum advena ‘Fireworks’)

Type Ornamental grass Blooms Pink bottlebrush flowers summer through fall, pink and white variegated foliage glows red in sunlight Light Full sun to part shade Soil Well-drained soil; drought-tolerant Size 24 to 30 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11

Castor bean (Ricinus communis)

Type Tender shrub Blooms Small yellow-green flowers in summer followed by spiny red seedpods Light Full sun Soil Well-drained soil Size 6 to 10 ft. tall, 2 to 4 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 9 to 12

Caution: All parts of this plant are poisonous so use with care

Hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Luna Red’)

Type Perennial Blooms Burgundy-red 7- to 8-in. in diameter flowers appear in mid- to late summer Light Full sun to part shade Size 2 to 3 ft. tall and wide Soil Moist, well-drained soil Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 10

Tulip (Tulipa Red Cubed™)

Type Bulb Blooms A mix of three different red tulip varieties that bloom successively from early to late spring Light Full sun Size 16 to 25 in. tall, 4 to 6 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 7

Flowering maple (Abutilon Patio Lantern ‘Passion’)

Type Shrub Blooms Bell-shaped red flowers throughout the growing season, hummingbird favorite Light Full sun to part shade Soil Average or moist, well-drained Size 10 to 12 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum Emperor 1®)

Type Tree Foliage Dark red foliage that turns brilliant scarlet in fall, interesting red-black bark Size 15 to 20 feet tall, 12 to 15 feet wide Light Plant it in dappled or afternoon shade in hot climates Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8

Shrub rose (Rosa Knock Out®)

Type Shrub Blooms Red-pink blooms start in late spring, rebloom through frost Light Full sun Soil Well-drained soil Size 3 to 4 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Type Perennial Blooms Red and yellow drooping, bell-like flowers in late spring to early summer; hummingbird favorite Light Part shade Soil Average or moist, well-drained Size 12 to 36 in. tall, 12 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8

Published: Nov. 26, 2019
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