Gardeners’ Dirt: Painting the garden red | Home And Garden

THEOne component in creating a picturesque garden is choosing colors. Colors evoke emotions, have an aesthetic effect, awaken memories, express a traditional custom or attract our attention. Red is the color we have chosen for the month of February. Additional color options will be explored in future Gardeners’ Dirt articles.

Centuries ago there was the tradition of placing green holly with red berries in cold, wintry houses. Holly is evergreen and can survive in harsh conditions. And the bleak winter needed a sign of optimism. The rugged holly tree was a reminder that spring would come and new green growth would appear.

The bright red berries became a symbol of hope that life would endure too. Red, the color of blood, symbolized life.

Today, red and green color themes can be seen in poinsettias, cyclamen, Christmas cacti, and holly with berries throughout December. The color that means life was highlighted in this column in Nancy Kramer’s January article on ferns.

Red evokes strong emotions and reactions. Red roses and red carnations are the choice for flower gifts for Valentine’s Day.

Since my little garden needed a strong, attention-grabbing palette, I went for a red, monochromatic scheme. This scheme makes a more cohesive design. Red can be used in other ways to generate interest. Variety can be created by using hues for lighter colors or shades for darker colors. Pink, maroon, burgundy, or copper are added to the red palette.

Red foliage can be incorporated for texture and nuance. The size and type of flowers also encourage interest. Red flowers can be highlighted by planting perennials, bulbs, annuals, and wildflowers.

Perennials – crepe myrtles

Put a wow factor in the landscape of red blooming trees. Crepe myrtles produce flowers for several months. Mature tree height sizes include dwarf-dainty red (3 to 5 feet); Intermediate – Cheyenne (5 to 10 feet); medium dynamite (10-12 feet); and crimson missile (over 20 feet).

Perennials – Geranium Pentas and Mary Helen

One of my favorite plants are the red pentas. Pentas is named after the five-pointed petals that make up the flowers. This slow-growing, warm-weather perennial can grow up to three feet tall. This full sun plant is versatile as I can use it in border areas, hanging baskets or butterfly gardens.

Another popular perennial is the Mary Helen geranium with its red-orange flowers. My garden has several pots in sun and shade areas. It is a wonderful “pass-a-long” plant because it is so adaptable to different lighting conditions and easy to multiply. This super geranium tolerates the summers in Victoria and can be brought to protected areas for strict protection against the cold.

Onions – amaryllis

Red light bulbs remind me of a traffic light. When this bloom appears, I stop and look. Amaryllis are enjoyed at Christmas and the bulbs become summer bloomers in sunny areas. Dozens of red varieties are available. The Crossroads area offers favorable conditions for the St. Josephs lily (hardy amaryllis) as well as for Lycoris radiata and red ox blood (schoolhouse lily). When they have to colonize, they appear to form purple villages.

Yearbooks – many possibilities

Annuals are available by purchasing plants or planting seeds. Display red flowers in bulk plantings, filled spaces, or hanging baskets.


Patches of red and blue wildflowers dot the Texas landscape. Clusters of bluebonnets are reminiscent of calm water. In this serene scene, the red flowers pop up and grab your attention. Wildflowers are great Xeriscape additions to gardens.

Red is my favorite color because it’s bold and bold. It’s easy to keep evolving my red palette as so many interesting red plants are available and growing beautifully in this area.

The Gardeners’ Dirt was written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational organization of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension – Victoria County. Send your questions to the attorney at PO Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or [email protected] or comment on this column at

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