Choosing plant combinations is an art. We're here to show you how to perfect it with gorgeous annual and perennial plant combination ideas for any garden. The garden is one of the best places to tap into your creativity and inner artist. Below you'll find a few annual and perennial plant combination ideas to get you started. These ideas are sure to spark some creativity. However, there's so much more to explore when it comes to making artful plant choices.
If you're looking for more combination ideas and lessons, sign up for our Grow Beautifully newsletter. You'll get our upcoming "Shades of Beautiful" plant palette color guide delivered straight to your inbox. (You can get last year's guide here). Or, take a deep dive into perfecting the art of the plant combo with our Perfect Plant Combos webinar recording. Get the guide and watch the webinar for a master's class in combining plants for maximum impact in any space.
Top 10 Tips for Creating Beautiful Plant Combos
- Use your cart at the garden center to play with color palettes. You're the artist and you're in charge of what you think looks great. Experiment with combos and find what you like.
- Mass multiples of the same plants in larger garden beds for a cohesive, more impactful effect.
- Place matters! Make sure you're combining plants with similar light, water, and soil needs together.
- Keep it simple in small borders and containers. For instance, use no more than 3 bloom colors OR 3 shades of one color family. OR mix leaf sizes in the same color family.
- Use repetition and rhythm in larger landscapes.
- Remember foliage is a color; consider your green tones — are they "warm" or "cool"?
- Think in terms of height and layers. Keep mature plant heights in mind when layering your plant combinations.
- Soften showy blooms with grasses and evergreens.
- Use contrasting colors to create a lively "pop," or use tonal shades for a more soothing look.
- Keep experimenting! Creativity in the garden never stops. You're always bound to find something new that you love if you keep paying attention with curiosity.
Lively Combination Ideas for Containers and Borders
Here are a few ideas of ways that you can pull three cheerful colors together (in the first two options). OR three shades of the same color (third option) to achieve a lively, welcoming display. These examples show ways that you can combine bright, "happy" colors, or colors that communicate joy. Placed in containers or borders in your front porch or yard to welcome people to your home. This will instantly put visitors in a good mood.
A superior annual for color, blooms, and all-season performance, this hybrid petunia blooms from spring until the first hard frost and makes a great partner to other colorful blooms. Up to 14" tall, 18" wide. Annual
Bright yellow flowers with showy green center cones bloom from late spring through fall. Perfect for combining in borders and containers. Up to 20" tall, 18" wide. Zones 4-9.
Forms a dense mat of bright color in garden beds and looks great as a "spiller" in container combos, too! Plus, this creeping variety is more heat tolerant than garden phlox. Up to 6" tall. 3' wide. Zones 3-9.
A beautiful dwarf variety that forms a beautiful backdrop for other colorful perennials. Dense blooms of bright pink smother this shrub for vibrant summer color. Up to 3' tall and wide. Zones 7-10.
Two well-mannered varieties of jessamine are planted in the same pot. This is to deliver spectacular bright-yellow flowers throughout most of the year. Twining stems reach 10-20'. Zones 7-9.
Photo by Hort Printers
Large, vibrant yellow flowers bloom on this heat-tolerant, non-invasive, seedless annual. This produces over 1,000 flowers in one season, from spring until frost. Up to 32" tall, 40" wide. Annual.
Bright yellow leaves have a sunny color all season long. Add this perennial to an annual container planting to soften and fill it with bright, billowing color. Up to 2' tall, 3' wide. Zones 4-9.
Dark Meets Light Perennial Combination Ideas
These dark and dramatic plant combinations were inspired by the "Dark Meets Light" garden trend. You can learn more about this in the Garden Trends webinar. These beautiful perennial combinations are also great examples of the "height matters" and "foliage is a color" tips above. They combine plants with deep, dark foliage and contrast them against light blooms or a cool-tone groundcover. These combinations utilize a taller back layer, mid-sized middle layer, and short groundcover. This is to achieve a balanced look that allows you to fully enjoy what all the plants have to offer.
A low-maintenance shrub that offers a high visual impact. Deep burgundy stems are covered in mildew-resistant, dark-burgundy purple leaves on a densely branched dwarf form. Pale pink flowers pop against dark foliage in spring and summer. Up to 4' tall and wide. Zones 4-8.
The deep, dark purple-red foliage of this stunning heuchera is sun tolerant and lovely. Especially when combined with other dark-foliage plants or used as a contrast with bright foliage and blooms. Up to 18" tall, 15" wide. Zones 4-9.
A favorite drought-tolerant grass for perennial and container planting in warm climes. With dense purple-maroon blades and rosy red plumes that look spectacular combined with bright blooms or other dark-foliaged plants. Up to 4' tall, 3' wide. Zones 8-11.
A hybrid succulent with the structure of an Agave and the fast growth and exciting colors of a Manfreda. The dark color and distinct structure look great combined with the softness of ornamental grass. Up to 10" tall, 22" wide. Zones 9-10.
Photo: Walter's Gardens
Pair this low-growing, powdery blue-green succulent with the deep, dark foliage of plants. Try purple fountain grass or mangave for a gorgeous contrast. Up to 1' tall, 3' wide. Zones 10-11.
Refreshing and Refined Perennial Combination Ideas
Simplified color palettes like this one convey an understated elegance. This is hard to achieve with bright blooms in multiple colors. In these combinations, you'll find a white-flowering shrub that acts as the refined focal point. Plus an evergreen shrub as the foundational structure. Lastly, a strappy, variegated foliage plant as the soft, luminescent groundcover. This green-and-white color palette never goes out of style, and always has an elevated elegance.
Gorgeous as a foundation plant, massed, and combined with other classically beautiful shrubs, grasses, and perennials. Long-lasting blooms emerge pale green, turn white, and then blush as they age. Resists scorch and burn. Up to 3-1/2' tall, 3' wide. Zones 4-9.
Boxwood is well known for its use in hedges and screens. It's also perfect for combining with other shrubs and perennials thanks to its evergreen structure. Up to 9' tall, 2' wide. Zones 5-9.
Add the mounding fountain of ribbon-like, white-striped foliage to bring brilliant texture to partially shaded gardens. Classically beautiful when planted en masse as a groundcover, and when combined with colorful flowers in a container. Up to 15" tall, 24" wide. Zones 5-9.
Large, fragrant flowers bloom on this superior grafted selection with rootstock. This is nematode resistant, tolerates poor soils, and takes in more soil nutrients. An elegant choice for straightforward color palettes. Up to 8' tall, 6' wide. Zones 8-11.
Dwarf, non-fruiting evergreen with a graceful dwarf habit and green leaves that have silvery-green undersides. Like the boxwood, it provides evergreen structure in the warm-zone garden. Up to 6' tall and wide. Zones 8-11.
Prized for its unique foliage that is exceptionally broad, and variegated. Along with green and cream marbling and a wide, sot yellow margin. Up to 20" tall, 24" wide. Zones 8-11.
Get More Plant Combination Ideas and Lessons
- Sign up for our Grow Beautifully newsletter. You'll get our latest "Shades of Beautiful" plant palette color guide delivered straight to your inbox.
- Perfect Plant Combos webinar recording.
- How to Create a Peaceful Retreat with Rhythm and Repetition
- Mass planting: The simplest way to make an impact
- Using Layers to Wow in a Low-Water Shade Garden
- Heat-Tolerant Plants: Cool shades for hot gardens
- Fresh Plant and Color Combos for Fall Container Gardens
- These Stunning Container Plants Can Take the Heat!