Using the Color Theory to Choose Flower Colors

Color wheelSimple color theory is easy to use when choosing complementing flower colors for the garden. Fortunately for those of us who can’t match our own clothes, the color theory is very useful when choosing colors for the garden.


The color theory is basically a guide for how to mix and match colors. There are primary, secondary and tertiary colors that appear on the color wheel. Primary colors are red, yellow and blue, which can be mixed to create the secondary colors of green, purple and orange. Tertiary colors are mixes of the secondary colors. The more intense primary and secondary colors should be used in smaller amounts compared to the tertiary colors. These colors will normally appear in bright flower heads, while the more numerous plant foliage is often the tertiary color in a larger amount.

Contrasting color scheme. Contrasting colors – those on the opposite ends of the color wheel – will complement each other and look great if planted next to each other. If you want to plant a striking garden, use flowers with contrasting colors.

Good contrasting colors to mix in the balcony container garden are:
Violet and yellow
Red and green
Orange and blue
Red-violet and yellow-green
Red-orange and blue-green
Yellow-orange and blue-violet

Harmonious color scheme. Harmony is a calming effect, which can be created by using colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel. For a calming balcony garden, choose harmonious colors.

Good harmonious colors to mix are:
Red-violet, red and red-orange
Red, red-orange and orange
Red-orange, orange and yellow-orange
Orange, yellow-orange and yellow
Yellow-orange, yellow and yellow-green
Yellow, yellow-green and green
Yellow-green, green and blue-green
Green, blue-green and blue
Blue-green blue and blue-violet
Blue, blue-violet and violet
Blue-violet, violet and red-violet
Violet, red-violet and red

Triadic color scheme. You can also try a triadic color scheme in your balcony garden. With contrasting colors, imagine drawing a straight line across the color wheel. This points you to the two contrasting colors that will go well together. With a triadic color scheme, imagine drawing an equilateral triangle within the color wheel. The points of the triangle will point to three colors that will go well together. If you want a lot of color in your balcony garden, try using the triadic color scheme.

Good triadic colors to mix are:
Red, blue and yellow
Orange, green and violet
Blue-violet, red-orange and yellow-green
Red-violet, blue-green and yellow-orange

The color theory isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. Choose what you want to look at in your balcony garden, even if the colors clash. It’s your garden, and beauty is subjective, so feel free to break the rules of the color theory.

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