Red plants for Valentines

Celebrate Valentines Day this year by planting up your garden in shades of stunning red.

There's no better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than with a living gift of red-flowered plants for the one you love, or alternatively, create your own romantic retreat filled with the rich crimson-coloured plants. Life is a garden filled with the glorious shades of red in all its forms, and if you don't fancy red blooms, there are also many plants with striking red foliage.

There are two very distinct and different shades of red. Orange-red or scarlet is a 'hot' shade of red which blends well with other hot colours such as bright yellow and orange. Blue-red or crimson is a 'cool' shade and belongs amongst the cool colours in your garden such as blue-purple and deep pink.

Nothing says romance like roses, and there are many crimson roses from which to choose:
 

  • Hybrid tea: 'Alleluia', 'Avon', 'Black Madonna', 'Black Pearl', 'Charles Mallerin' (climber), 'Chrysler Imperial', 'Cora Marie', 'Crimson Glory', 'Ecstasy', 'Ingrid Bergman', 'Kingswood College', 'Mister Lincoln', 'Norita', 'Oklahoma', 'Papa Meilland', 'Pasita', 'Rooi Rose', 'Samourai' (climber), 'Velvet Treasure'.
  • Floribunda: 'Bavaria', 'Bavarian Girl', 'Garnette Red', 'Invincible', 'Lava Glow', 'Little Red Hedge', 'Mathias Meilland', 'Red Pixie'.
  • Miniature roses: 'Amanda', 'Centre Piece', 'Galaxy', 'Red Alert'.
  • English roses: 'L D Braithwaite', 'The Squire', 'Tradescant', 'Francois Krige', 'Prospero', 'The Prince'.

Impatients

Try these colourful plant combinations which mix red plants with those that show them off to best advantage:

  • Crimson, mauve and blue flowers, with 'blue' and grey foliage is a classical harmonious border combination. Add touches of white and pale pink for lightness. Try crimson roses with deep blue delphiniums and purple petunias, or, for a lighter look use crimson roses with Lavandula dentata 'Candicans', Argyranthemum frutescens 'Single White' and silver Artemesia 'Powis Castle'.
  • Crimson with purple and magenta, for example, crimson hibiscus, magenta bougainvillea and purple pride-of-India with green-and-white leafed acalypha. Use green and maroon-purple foliage, such as Berberis cultivars, with these flower colours to create rich tapestry-like designs. In a sunny position try red roses, purple liatris, magenta petunias and Berberis thunbergia 'Atropurpurea'. In the shade try impatiens, fuchsias and red-leafed begonia.
  • Crimson, deep pink and mid- to pale-blue is a romantic combination. Add grey foliage or cream-and-green variegated foliage and some white. Try crimson hollyhocks, deep pink dahlias and blue felicia with variegated liriope or hebe.
  • Crimson, magenta (cerise or carmine), and clear pinks together with grey foliage and touches of lemon yellow give a Mediterranean feel to the garden. Try crimson oleander with magenta bougainvillea or dahlia, pink pelargoniums or petunias and yellow marguerite with grey-foliaged conifers or lavender.

Bougainvillea

Petunia

  • Crimson, magenta and shocking pink with touches of lemon yellow and lime green for contrast are great for vibrant modern borders. Try crimson day lilies, magenta dahlias and Lychnis coronaria, with yellow marguerites or lime green Spiraea x arguta, and purple fountain grass.
  • Crimson and white with mid-green foliage makes a strong visual statement, and is best used in a formal design. Crimson and white can also be used with grey and maroon-purple foliage - remember to position light-green or grey foliage behind the red blooms and dark-green or maroon foliage behind the white flowers.
  • Crimson with golden-yellow and bronze-apricot-oranges, with touches of amethyst-purple and orange-red makes a magnificent African sunset border. Use green foliage with touches of purple-red and bronze. These strong colours show up well against face brick. Consider crimson dahlias, golden rudbeckias, bronze day lilies, mauve liatris and orange-red kniphofia. Add Phormium tenax 'Flamingo' and fountain grass.

Foliage

Prunus

Acer

Iresine

Remember that many plants have maroon-red foliage that can be used to excellent effect in crimson colour schemes. Consider trees such as Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum', flowering plum (Prunus cerasifera 'Atropurpurea'), and the smaller shrub-like Japanese maples such as Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood', 'Burgundy Lace', 'Sherwood Flame', and 'Dissectum Atropurpureum'.

Other deciduous shrubs include Berberis thunbergia and purple fennel, while evergreen shrubs include Acalypha wilkesiana., some bromelliads, croton, many canna hybrids, Cordyline australis 'Red Sensation', Caladium bicolor, Dodonea viscosa 'Purpurea', iresine, Nandina domestica 'Firepower' and Leptospermum scoparium 'Cherry Brandy'.

Purple-red grass-like foliage can be found on some New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax 'Atropurpurea' and P.t. 'Rubra Nana'). For ground covers try Ajuga reptans 'Purpurea' and Begonia coccinea.

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