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Plant the Rainbow

Some of the most beautiful gardens in the world are planted with a wide range of colors, from warm reds to cool blues and everything in between. Have you ever thought about trying to plant a garden bed that used every color of the rainbow? Officially, those colors are known as ROYGBIV on the spectrum—that stands for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. It might be fun to try!


We’ll help you get started using the ideas for each color below. We have plant lists compiled for every one in the rainbow. Tap the links within each color category to explore further. If you’d prefer a more limited color palette, simply pick your favorites below and get started.

Contributors: Kerry Meyer



The red/pink color category is very prevalent in the plant world and is really flexible to use in garden designs. The category includes a range of tones from fire engine red which is a sure attention getter, deep maroon which is dark and moody, soft and soothing blush pink, and every hue in between. Hummingbirds adore red plants, so planting red in your garden will likely tempt hummingbirds to make your garden their home.


Explore the red/pink color category:



Orange is often an overlooked color for gardens, but if you have ever seen a mass planting of orange flowers and foliage, it is incredibly striking. If bright orange isn’t your taste, try using peach or coral instead. Those colors work well at bridging the gap between pink and red, or pink and yellow pairings.


Explore the orange color category:


Bright yellow brings a cheerful feeling to gardens, but chiffon yellow and amber gold also have their place. Soft yellows are often used in the springtime, while saturated yellows and golds permeate the summer months followed by amber tones in the fall. No matter which shades you use, your yellow flowers are sure to catch the attention of pollinating bees. One of the great joys of incorporating plants for pollinators into your garden is hearing the drone of bumblebees and watching these gentle bees be single-mindedly focused on flowers.


Explore the yellow color category:


Whether or not you plan for it, you will have the color green in your garden. It’s considered the neutral base color for all of nature, and it sets off every other color of the rainbow. Falling between blue and yellow on the color wheel, the three together make a perfect pairing. Chartreuse is a light yellow-green shade that brightens up shadier spaces and gives it some dimension.


Explore the green color category:


Blue ranks consistently near the top of the list of gardener’s favorite flower colors, but you’ll also find blue shades in the foliage of a number of perennials and shrubs. It’s not as rare of a color as you might think in the garden. There are copious shades of blue. Lighter shades tend to fall more in the blue category, while more intense blues are closer to indigo. All lend a cooling, calming feel to a space when used in containers and landscapes.


Explore the blue/indigo color category:


The rainbow ends with violet, or purple, as you might call it, so it seems fitting to wrap up our list with it. Gardeners have told us for years that it is their favorite flower color. There is so much to love about purple! It comes in a huge array of shades so you have dozens of options to choose from. From barely there to pale purple and saturated wine and every shade in between, there is a purple that will coordinate well with all the other plants in your garden.


Explore the violet/purple color category:



Though they aren’t officially included in the ROYGBIV spectrum of the rainbow, we couldn’t leave white and silver plants off of our list. These are neutral colors that can be combined with any others without changing the color scheme of your design. That makes them very useful. And, if you are planning a moon garden, they will shift from a supporting role to center stage.

Explore the white/silver color category:


Whether you plant a rainbow of colors in your garden or just utilize a select range to create your perfect garden bed, you’ll have all the colors of the rainbow at your disposal.

Learn more about using color in the garden:

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