How to Contrast Flowers


Flowers in gardens or in floral arrangements can often be shown off to their best advantage when contrasted against other flowers varying in color, texture, form and size. Think of where flowers fall on the color wheel and consider pairing flowers with colors opposite each other on the wheel (complementary colors). Flowers can be cool or warm in hue. You can use contrast in bold, shocking ways but also to evoke subtle variations using softer tones that give flower gardens and arrangements a calmer mood.

Step 1

Pair flowers with complementary colors to invoke the power of contrast. Use contrast to maximize the vividness of each flower and give the garden or arrangement visual interest. Place yellow near blue, or put purple near bright chartreuse, or mix coral orange and blue for a vibrant, shocking combination.

Step 2

Limit your color palate to three hues for a very restful, harmonious and sophisticated floral display or garden. Choose blue and white flowers on backgrounds of bright lime and dark green for a cool garden. Choose flowers in hues of yellow and orange against green for a bright, warm-toned garden that has a controlled feel but is still energizing.

Step 3

Use all one hue of flower in many shades, sizes, shapes and textures to evoke a subtle contrast that is romantic, moody and restrained. Rely on variations in the flowering plants to create contrast. A purple-themed garden or arrangement with flowers ranging from the very palest lavender-white to the deepest purplish indigo blue is striking and contemporary without feeling cold or boring. Create a glowing nighttime garden by planting all types of flowering plants in only white and pale cream. White flowers will glow in moonlight or candlelight and look cool and crisp in the sunlight.

Things You'll Need

  • Color wheel printout


  • Cornell University
Keywords: mixing flower colors, color wheel and flowers, complementary and contrasting colors

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.