How to design a hot-color flower garden

Free planting plan: Mix fiery and cool colors for dramatic flower beds and bouquets

Hot-color flower garden

Sunset test garden intern Tanya Eggers's hot-color cutting garden

E. Spencer. Toy

Harvesting tips

  • Flower harvesting tips

    To keep the plants looking good from midspring through summer, Eggers harvests flowers for bouquets and clips spent blooms regularly.

    • Cut flowers early in the morning or just after sunset. Avoid cutting during the heat of the day.
    • Carry a bucket of tepid water with you as you harvest. Plunge stems in it as soon as you cut them.
    • Before arranging, recut each stem underwater. Then pull off any foliage or flowers that will be below the water level in the vase.

  • Dahlias

    Plant Finder

    The Sunset Plant Finder helps you choose the right flowers and plants for your climate and gardening style


To celebrate sunny colors, Sunset test garden intern Tanya Eggers designed this cutting garden around a sizzling palette of yellow, orange, and red.

Her goal was to plant flower beds that looked good in the garden and also provided blooms for bouquets over a long season.

It’s easy to create a palette that’s too bright, Eggers says, “but when you add almost-black purples and rich burgundies, they act as a grounding force.”

The result: blazing beds and cool bouquets.

The beds and the blooms

Two half-moon-shaped beds, each roughly 3 feet across and 11 feet long, make up our amply sized but still manageable flower garden (one bed is illustrated to the left; the second mirrors it). A gravel path separates the beds, both edged with Sonoma fieldstone. The planting plan sticks to fiery colors but adds splashes of lime and chocolate to temper the heat. Look for plants in 4-inch and 1-gallon pots.




TIP: Place the beds in a spot that gets full sun. In mild climates, plant in spring for summer bloom.

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