Red and blue flowers

All-American Garden

Bands of red, white, and blue petunias fill a flower bed. Garden designer Troy Rhone shares plant selections for a red white and blue flower garden, and tips for planting a flower bed. Photo by Alexey Belyaev/

As gardeners, one way we can show our patriotism is by planting an American garden. I have done this at my home. My annual and perennial beds triumph fully and proudly display the colors of red, white, and blue. How the colors blend in beautifully with the American flag that adorns the front of my house. With a little planning and effort, you can achieve the same effect with the flowers of your choice.

Red flowers of pentas. Photo by Jim Persons

Preparing Flower Bed Soil

1 | Create good drainage. Almost all plant roots need good drainage. If your soil has poor drainage, amend 50 percent of your soil with a soil conditioner. You can also add in material that will aid in drainage such as a ceramic material like PermaTill, which will keep soil particles from sticking together and thus thwarting proper drainage.

2| Mix Up This Secret Formula. Soil nutrition is the second key ingredient to a successful planting. It is important that you give your bed both macro and micronutrients. After preparing my beds with soil conditioner and PermaTill, I mix up my secret formula that I till into my bed. (I guess it won’t be a secret anymore because I am going to share it with you!) First, I fill about half a 5-gallon bucket with soil conditioner. Next I add a cup of Flower-tone, Start-N-Grow, and a slow-release fertilizer. I mix this all up and then moderately spread it across the flowerbed. Finally I till or rake the secret ingredients into the bed.

White hollyhocks. Photo by Jolly Roberts

Planting a Flower Bed

Now, it’s time to plant the flowers. I always plant the root ball of the flower about half an inch above the ground. This is because I want to leave room for mulch (mini-nuggets of pine bark, in my case) without covering too much of the root ball which would cause it to be planted to deep. The mulch I use is about two inches, or less, in diameter making it the perfect size as the flowers can be damaged by something larger. Once I finish my mulching, I water with a water-solubule fertilizer.

The third key ingredient for your flowers to thrive is ongoing fertility. If you live in an area that gets lots of rain or has a very sandy soil where you have to use irrigation often, you are going to have to feed your flowers more frequently. I use a low-potassium granular fertilizer once a month and a water-soluble fertilizer every 10 days, assuming that my flowers are getting about an inch of rain per week during the spring and summer months.

Again, I would adjust the fertility if the flowers get more or less water. During rainy times, I’ll concentrate on a fast-release granular fertilizer rather than a water-soluble fertilizer applied every 10 days. Don’t add more moisture to an already saturated root system. If you want to stay away from chemicals, just top dress with a soil conditioner, which is full of nutrients to feed your flowers.

To plant a traditional flowerbed, arrange the tallest plants in the back of the bed and work your way down to the shortest at the front of the bed. If you want the bed to “roll” like a flag, plant various plant groupings of differing heights along the back of the bed. I recommend that your bed be at least four to five feet deep to leave enough room for all of your plants to grow.

‘Baby Blue Eyes’ (nemophila menziesii). Photo by Gabriel de Urioste

Plants for a Red White and Blue Flower Garden

RED FLOWERS:

  • Tall: Crocosmia, Cardinal Flower, Knock Out Rose
  • Medium: Annual Salvia, Penta
  • Short: Zinnia, Petunia

WHITE FLOWERS:

  • Tall: Butterfly Bush, Fairy Rose, Peony, Hollyhock
  • Medium: Balloon Flower
  • Short: Fan Flower, Verbena

BLUE FLOWERS:

  • Tall: Salvia ‘Victoria Blue,’ Agapanthus ‘Buddy Blue’
  • Medium: Turinia, Evolvulus pilosus ‘Blue Daze’
  • Short: Nemophila menziesii ‘Baby Blue Eyes,’ Blue Star Creeper

Whichever flowers you choose to plant in your All-American garden, one thing is certain: the results will be beautiful.

By Troy Rhone

More Garden Flowers

  • Casa Blanca Lilies
  • Coneflower Varieties (Beyond the Purple)
  • Gladiolus Flowers Brighten the Summer Garden
  • Growing Foxglove Flowers

American Flag Flowers – How To Grow A Red, White And Blue Garden

You can do more than just wave the flag to demonstrate your love for the country. A patriotic flower garden is a fun way to celebrate the Fourth of July or any national holiday. Red, white and blue flowers combine to represent your devotion to the country. There are tons of combos or you can plant an American flag with your plant selections. Follow our tips on a USA flower garden that will astound your neighbors.

Planning a Patriotic Flower Garden

Making a political statement with gardening may seem a bit much, but it can be a fun and beautiful addition to the landscape. A red, white and blue garden is about so much more than a partisan statement. It is an expression of love and devotion to the land in which you live.

American flag flowers may be perennials, annuals or an entire bulb garden. You may even opt for bushes with colorful leaves and blooms. Choose an area where the bed will be seen and where flowers will get appropriate light. Amend the soil as needed

and then it’s time to select red, white and blue flowers or plants.

Using petunias as the base provides an affordable and easy way to build a USA flower garden. There are solid or striped, single or double petals, and even creeping petunias in each of our patriotic hues. They make the ultimate American flag flowers, which will grow and blend together in a tapestry salute to our pennant.

Using Native Plants as Part of a Patriotic Garden

Native plants in the scheme pack a double whammy. Not only can they bring in the red, white and blue tones, but they are part of this country naturally. Few things will salute our great nation as easily as plants that are indigenous to this part of the world. Some wonderful native selections might include:

White

  • Arrowwood
  • Silky dogwood
  • Fringe tree
  • Goat’s beard
  • Wild quinine
  • Calico aster

Red

  • Cardinal flower
  • Columbine
  • Coral honeysuckle
  • Rose mallow

Blue

  • American wisteria
  • Passion vine (maypop variety is native species)
  • Lupine
  • Virginia bluebells
  • Jacob’s ladder
  • Wild blue phlox

Tips on a Red, White and Blue Garden

Choosing the plants is the fun part of developing a patriotic garden. You can go with the 3-toned scheme or even give use plants with such thematic names like Coreopsis “American Dream,” Peruvian lily “Freedom,” the tea rose ‘Mr. Lincoln’ and many more. Many patriotically hued blooms need full sun, but there are those that can thrive in partial to full shade.

Here are some selections that can fit into either sun or shade locations:

Shade

  • Reds – begonias, coleus, impatiens
  • Whites – pansy, caladium, bleeding heart
  • Blues –browallia, lobelia, agapanthus

Sun

  • Reds – geranium, verbena, salvia
  • Whites – cosmos, alyssum, snapdragon
  • Blues – ageratum, bachelor button, love-in-a-mist

As with the aforementioned petunias, many of these plants come in all three colors so you can make a sea of red, white and blue with just one choice of flower. Easy, quick and beautiful.

Sign in to Blooming Secrets

While talking about Independence Day in February may sound strange this is actually a great time of year to plan a patriotic container garden for your yard. You can express your patriotism and take your celebration up a notch by decorating your yard with the red, white and blue. There is no need to be born on the 4th of July to create a dynamic display this summer.

There is typically no shortage of red and white flower choices for your containers but the color blue in the garden can be hard to come by. Fear not! We’ll provide you with suggestions on some blue flowers you can use but if they are not suitable for your situation why not try a blue container with red and white flowers? After all, a little creativity is all it takes to let freedom ring this summer!

As a reminder one simple container gardening recipe is to combine spillers, fillers, and thrillers together:

Spillers – These flowers and plants are found at the edge of the container and are designed to cascade toward the ground.

Fillers – These plants tie the container together as they are planted between the spillers and thrillers. They are taller than the spillers but not as tall as the thrillers would be.

Thrillers – These flowers and plants are the star of the show and are attention getters. They often have dramatic flowers or colorful foliage.

Here are some red, white and blue flowering plants to grow in partial to full sun conditions:

Spillers: Red, white or blue Calibrachoa, Red, white or blue Petunias, White Sweet Alyssum, Blue or Red Lobelia, Red, white or blue Verbena, Blue Morning Glory, Blue or White Bacopa

Fillers: Red or white Geranium, Blue Ageratum, Red or white Zinnia, Blue Veronica, Blue Bachelor Buttons

Thrillers: Red, white or blue Salvia, White Lantana, Red Celosia, Red or White Snapdragons

Here are some suggestions for containers that include red, white and blue flowering plants and will be in partial to full shade conditions:

Spillers: Blue Lobelia, Blue Browallia, White Sweet Alyssum

Fillers: Red or white Begonias, Red or White Impatiens

Thrillers: Coleus Red Velvet, Caladium, Red Daylily

Whether they are in a hanging container or a pot on a patio the Spirit of 1776 will be alive in well in your yard this 4th of July!

A star-spangled garden: North Dakota man creates American flag with flowers

“I tell people I spend my time on the ‘three Gs’ — gardening, granddaughters and golf, not necessarily in that order,” he says.

But Rice does a lot more than that. The Vietnam veteran is the current commander of the Fargo VFW, past commander of the Fargo American Legion and past state commander of the North Dakota American Legion. He’s been an integral part of the WDAY Honor Flight Committee since 2007 and has served as a bus captain on several Honor Flight trips.

“I guess I’ve always been pretty patriotic. After Vietnam and 42 years in the Navy Reserves there was just something in my blood,” he says.

He’s toyed with the idea of making the flag bed a little easier to do every year, but it doesn’t seem to fly.

“I’ve tried perennials. But I’ve had no luck starting them from seed, and the bed is right out in the open so it’s pretty unprotected, so they don’t seem to survive,” he says.

So he’s left planting the annuals every year. But like the Old Glory Francis Scott Key wrote about all those years ago, this botanical star-spangled banner will yet wave for years to come.

“I’m pretty sure it’s going to last longer than I will,” he says with a laugh.

A patriotic flower garden can be a great way to show off your national pride, support a military serviceman or servicewoman, or just add decorative flair to your yard or landscaping for summer holidays. With careful steps, your flower garden can be filled with red, white and blue pride for the entire neighborhood to enjoy.

When to Be Patriotic

While a red, white and blue flower garden can be enjoyed any time from early spring through late fall, these color combinations are more popular for celebrating summer holidays. From Memorial Day in late May through Flag Day (June 14), Independence Day (July 4) and even to Labor Day in early September, a patriotic flower garden can be the perfect decoration. These designs are also popular for summer barbecues, family reunions and other celebrations. Whenever you want your garden to be in its full, colorful bloom, however, be sure to choose suitable flowers with planting times and growth habits that ensure they look their best on the desired date.

Planning the Flower Garden

You can turn an existing flowerbed into a patriotic display or plan an entirely new flower garden to show your patriotic pride. Regardless of which flowerbed you use, there are different factors that should be considered to make sure the bed looks its very best.

  • Size
    Any size flower garden can show patriotic colors, but it needs to be carefully designed so all the colors are seen equally. Larger flowerbeds are easier to design colorfully, though it does also depend on where the flower garden is positioned. If the garden is in a very visible space, a smaller garden can be just as delightful as any larger flowerbed. For mini gardens, patriotic plantings may be constructed in a single pot with one thriller, one filler and one spiller plant to give the arrangement balance and movement.
  • Shape
    Any flowerbed shape can be patriotically designed, whether it is a small, narrow bed, a larger round bed, a spot beneath a tree or alongside a house or fence. A curved bed might lend itself well to a “waving flag” type of design, while a round bed could become a star pattern. Simple color blocking can be used in any bed shape to create a patriotic color scheme.
  • Location
    It is important that a patriotic flower garden be visible, not only for your enjoyment, but also for your guests, whether those guests are neighbors passing by your yard, visitors enjoying a barbecue party or anyone else who may see the bed. Properly positioned, the flower garden can be a welcome statement for your yard as well as a focal point for your landscape.
  • Design
    There are many beautiful designs for patriotic flower gardens. You could create an image in flowers, such as planning colors and arrangements to mimic an American flag, or you might create star shapes with the different colors. Simply balancing patriotic colors in different tiers can be a lovely option as well.

Coloring Your Patriotic Flower Garden

There are many different and beautiful ways to incorporate red, white and blue into a patriotic flower garden, both with plants as well as decorative accents.

  • Red
    Popular red flowers for a patriotic bed include astilbe, gerbera daisies, cockscomb, dianthus, begonias, dahlias, poppies, camellias, impatiens, geraniums, petunias, salvia and ranunculus. Choose flowers with bold, rich red shades that aren’t too pale or pinkish. Other red accents could include red brick edging, a bright red gazing ball, red hummingbird feeders or even red mulch such as wood chips or lava rock.
  • White
    White stone edging, a short decorative fence or river rocks can frame a patriotic flower bed, and there are many stunning white flowers to fill that bed. Heliotrope, astilbe, petunias, gerbera daisies, jasmine, camellias, peonies, chrysanthemums, yarrow, ranunculus, anemone, vinca, dahlia and hyacinth are just a few options that can add a burst of white to the bed. You can also consider red and blue flowers that have white accents in their blooms.
  • Blue
    It can be difficult to find blue flowers with the proper rich hue for a patriotic flower garden. Options include cornflower, flax, globe thistles, periwinkle, salvia, harvestbells, desert bluebells, sweetpea and lobelia. To add more blue tones, consider a blue gazing ball, ceramic blue bird bath or blue containers and pots in the proper blue shades rather than having too much purple-like coloration.

More Tips for a Patriotic Flower Garden

There are many other fun ways to give your flower garden even more patriotic flair. Choose flower types that have star shapes in their blooms or coloration, or opt for big, bold blooms that resemble bursts of fireworks. Adding ornamental grasses to the bed can give it a sense of fireworks as well, or you can go vertical with a colored trellis or arbor, such as a blue structure to support red and white flowers. Add flag stakes to decorate the bed and there will be no mistaking its patriotic nature.

To be sure your garden looks its very best right before a party, holiday or other celebration, trim away excess greenery so as much red, white and blue color is exposed as possible. Also trim, prune or pinch away any blooms that have faded or discolored, especially white blooms that may be showing brown edges that can detract from the flowerbed’s beauty. With a little care and attention, your patriotic flower garden will be brimming with colorful spirit all summer long.

Here’s to the red, white, and blue!

I absolutely love the fourth of July. It’s such a fun, celebratory holiday. American flags are waving in the wind, kids are slurping the melted juice from bomb pops off of their arms, and nobody can seem to get enough of the colors red, white, and blue. It’s no different here at the nurseries. This time of year, you can find these three colors in an explosion of blooms. Let’s take a look at some of your options for putting together a display that could rival any firework show!

The Reds:

When I set out to find my perfect trio of patriotic color, I was looking for brilliant, blazing, red blooms to start the combo off. Turns out I didn’t have to look very far. What I found while walking though the nursery was an abundance of crimson blooms that beckoned me to enjoy their fiery display. The pentas are unwavering with their full clusters of tiny, star-shaped flowers. Their true-red hue is like a magnet for hummingbirds who hone in when they see their favorite color, and butterflies don’t turn up their snout at these either. A trip down the lane brings me to some tropical red jatropha, which makes a stunning display with it’s contrast of deep, red blossoms against dark, green foliage. I plan on potting one of these up so I can protect it from future cold spells.

( I thought hard about those pentas. The star-shaped flowers almost won me over.)

(Red, jatropha is quite a beauty, but my eyes got pulled along elsewhere.)

I thought I had my winner of the “reds”, but just as I had made my decision, two very exciting specimens practically jumped out in front of me showing me that they had it all. Not only did these next two plants have the color I was searching for, they also had a unique feature in that they looked like a firework had just exploded. In fact, one even boasts the word firecracker in it’s name. The two plants I now was tormented to choose between were the dwarf red Fairy Duster (Calliandra emarginata) and the firecracker fern (Russelia equisetformis). The dwarf red Fairy Duster proves to be stunning to look at. Each little bloom, and boy there are a ton of them, look like tiny, fiber optic, powderpuffs. You know, like those fiber optic lights that could change colors that were so popular in the eighties? The cherry-red “powderpuff” flowers on the dwarf red Fairy Duster practically bloom nonstop spring through late fall, bringing both butterflies and hummingbirds to visit through multiple seasons. This tropical shrub is a fast grower in the warm weather, so I would need to make room for the 3 foot tall, by 4 foot wide growth habit, or I could possibly plant it in a pot. If planted in a pot, I could bring it indoors when the cold weather (30’s and below) is predicted. This plant looks like miniature, red fireworks are exploding all over it. The cheeriness of the plant almost makes me swoon and I think I may have found my winner.

(See what I mean by the “fiber optic” look?)

But wait, I still needed to take a look at the firecracker fern. The firecracker fern does not mislead with it’s name in any fashion. It truly looks like the trails of sparks that descend from the sky after a firework is ignited. Long, thin stems with tiny, bright-green leaves and tons of deep-red flowers droop from their own weight and create a beautiful cascading effect. The flowers on this perennial, cover the plant from late spring and all through summer. Not only are the flowers the hummingbird’s favorite color, they also have the tubular shape that fits a hummingbird’s beak like a glove. Oh, I think I am in love! It looks like the true winner has exploded it’s way into my heart. I’ve definitely picked my red.

( The thought of those tiny beaks examining the tubular flowers won me over. Plus, it has the word “firecracker in it’s name. How could I resist?)

The Whites:

White, in this trio of patriotic color, must not be overlooked. It is what gives a crisp, cool contrast to the bold colors of red and blue. Many people do overlook white when choosing flowers for their gardens. I totally understand the allure that bright color can bestow upon the eyes; but I’ve recently been smitten by the clean and fresh look that white flowers can gift a garden, especially when mixed in with some of those desirable brights. The first stop was a brilliant display in the greenhouse where I found snow-white vinca in cheery six packs. It wouldn’t take much to gather a few of these to plant in a mass and create a show-stopping, brilliantly-white, exhibit. I knew the vinca would carry me through the summer and it’s heat, so I kept them at the top of the list. Next I took a jaunt over to the hibiscus display. I was seeking out an ivory beauty with some dramatic flair. I found a stunning specimen in a Texas Star perennial hibiscus. The huge, beautiful, creamy-white flowers would bloom for me the whole warm season, and then return each spring with even more stalks which would result in even more blooms.

(Brilliant, white, refreshing vinca makes a bold contrast against dark-green leaves.)

(The creamy, marshmallow-white of the Texas Star hibiscus almost won me over.)

I was starting to get worried that I wasn’t going to be able to make a decision very easily, especially when I widened my search and started seeing the white pentas, the dainty white flowers of baby’s breath, and white trailing lantana. I finally decided I wanted something really hardy that tops the list as one of our best xeriscape perrenials and that brought me to the black-foot daisy. This tough little plant bears small, white, daisy-like flowers with sunny-yellow centers. The dense, rounded growth habit makes these flowers look like a perfect, large bouquet. The plant is native to the dry, limestone soil so once it is established, it doesn’t need much water. A xeriscape perennial that attracts butterflies and is deer resistant, yep, I found my white. It was time to turn my attention to my favorite color of the patriotic trio…..blue.

(Crisp-white, with a little sunshine in the middle. Blackfoot Daisy won my heart.)

The Blues:

Not only is blue my favorite color in general, but it also happens to be my favorite hue in the botanical world. Blue flowers calm me, blue flowers relax me, and blue flowers bring a sense of coolness to the air even on hot summer days. So needless to say, I was looking forward to scoping out these sky-hued plants the most. I had noticed that the Agapanthus, or Lily of the Nile, had popped out their brilliant, blue, globe-shaped blooms, so I wanted to take a closer peek. I came across an Ellemae Lily of the Nile and what a spectacular sight! The blue of the flowers was practically electric! The 3′ to 4′ blooms emerging from a large clump of strap-like, dark-green leaves would make an excellent background, or edging along a fence or wall. Plus, the spherical blooms looked like, you guessed it, fireworks! This one would be perfect in a spot in the landscape that receives am sun/ pm shade or filtered light. I thought I might not even need to look any further, but I did still have a couple of “must sees” on my list.

(The stunning, Ellemae Lily of the Nile.)

I think I talk about plumbago a lot, but it’s only because I love it so much. It truly is one of the showiest, easy-to care-for perennials out there. This shrub has a cascading look to it, as long stems that are peppered with blue florets weep out, heavy with the blooms. It grows to about 3 feet tall, and will spread almost that wide. You see it in many landscapes both in sun or part sun, because it grows so easily. Again, to me, the flower clusters look like an explosion of bright-blue fireworks that just don’t want to stop. The plumbago will bloom spring, summer and fall, and then return again come the following spring. Another plus to this plant is that it really doesn’t have any insect or disease issues that plague it. I think I’ve found my blue.

(Tons of flower clusters, and they just keep on coming. Way to go, Plumbago!)

I happily gather all my plants to hit the check out, when what do my wandering eyes zero in on? Hold everything! I’ve just seen a plant that looks like it is swarming with tiny blue butterflies! Blue? Butterflies? It just doesn’t get much better than this. Taking a closer look, I see that it is actually the flowers of this plant that are shaped like butterflies, antennae and all. I have stumbled upon the Blue Butterfly Clerodendrum or the Blue Glory Bower. This xeriscape, tropical shrub is such a fun specimen. The beautiful two-toned hue of the blooms and their unique shape give this shrub an extremely whimsical feel. I’ll need to plant this one in a pot so that I can bring it in for the winter to protect it from frost; but in the meantime, I can find a sun to part sun spot on my patio so it can bring me a smile every day. I will get blooms from this plant spring through autumn, and since it flowers on the current season’s growth, I can prune it anytime to keep it in shape and encourage new blooms. Even though I made up my mind about the plumbago being my “blue”, I just have to have this one…..too.

(Swirls and whirls of tiny blue butterflies. Makes my heart sing!)

Of course you can make your own “firework” display with any number of colors with huge selection of plants we have at the nurseries, but I thought it would be fun to just focus on the colors that we proudly wear and display on this very special holiday. May you have a very happy and safe Fourth of July!

The Happy Gardener

Lisa Mulroy

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