Today we’re going to indulge in a little fun with color by celebrating the color red! Nothing is quite as eye-catching and dramatic as red, scarlet, and crimson in the garden. Here are some of my favorite red plants. There are many others. What are your favorites that I missed?
Windflower (Anemone coronaria, Zones 7–10) is native to the Middle East, where it is pollinated by the same beetles that pollinate red poppies. Apparently these beetles have a real thing for bright red flowers! In Zones 7 and warmer, this anemone can be planted in the fall for spring bloom. In the north, you can grow it as a tender bulb by planting it as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring.
Gladiolus (sword lilies, Zones 8–10, or as a tender bulb) come in nearly every color imaginable, but they do intense, bright scarlet better than almost anything else. Plant these tender bulbs in the spring for great summer color, and look for shorter varieties if you don’t want to have to stake them.
Red doesn’t have to come from flowers. Lots of leaves turn bright red in the fall, but few do it as intensely as Japanese maples (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–8 ). The leaves are beautiful on the tree, and here they’re even more lovely scattered over a rich green carpet of moss.
The fern leaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia, Zones 4–8) has beautiful, airy, delicate leaves, and then the flowers are intense balls of rich, dark red. Like all peonies, it is also tough, disease resistant, and very long lived.
Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ (Zones 6–9) holds its brilliant red flowers in at a graceful angle on delicate stems over the upright, swordlike foliage. I’m a big fan, as are hummingbirds!
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