Most of New Jersey, with the exception of a small corner in the northwest part of the state that is in USDA hardiness Zone 5, is in Zones 6 and 7. The average night-time winter temperatures in these two zones does not go below -15 degrees F. The best red flowers do well in these temperatures, and come back year after year as either perennials or annuals that re-seed themselves.
Eastern Red Columbine
Eastern red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is also known as wild columbine and Canada columbine. The plant grows to about 2 feet tall and 1 foot across, and produces fern-like leaves that grow from 4 to 6 inches wide. It has bell-like flowers that grow from 1 to 2 inches long with five red petals and five red-yellow petals. These flowers produce beak-shaped fruit pods. Plant eastern red columbine in any sunny location and dry to lightly-moist soil. The plant is a favorite of hummingbirds and bumblebees.
Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is also known as trumpet honeysuckle. The plant is a vine that produces smooth leaves that grow from 1 to 3 inches long, and coral red flowers that grow about 2 inches long in clusters at the end of the stems. The flowers are followed by berries in late summer and early fall. Plant coral honeysuckle in full sun and a soil that is dry to moist. The berries are a favorite food for songbirds and ruby-throated hummingbirds and butterflies will come for the nectar.
Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) is a biennial plant that produces leaves that feel like sandpaper. Leaves grow from 1 to 2 inches long and the same in width on the sides of 5 to 6 foot tall stems in the first year of its life. The funnel-shaped flowers grow from 2 to 4 inches in size along the stalk the second year. Plant hollyhocks in full sun and well-drained, but never completely dry, soil. Plant hollyhocks where their height is an advantage--along a fence or wall, or at the back of a perennial garden.
Scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea), also known as Texas sage and salvia, is grown as an annual in New Jersey, but will re-seed itself and grow new plants. The plant grows from 2 to 3 feet tall and produces 1 to 2 inch triangular-shaped leaves and bright red flowers that grow about 1 inch long and bloom from early spring until first frost. Plant scarlet sage in full sun and moist soil. Use scarlet sage as a bedding plant or in borders. Hummingbirds and butterflies will stop by all season long.