How To Choose Colours For Flower Arrangements

by Beauty, Colour, Decor, Floral, Flowers

Have you ever seen an arrangement that takes your breathe away? You might even tell yourself that you are incapable of creating something just as fantastic–I’m here to tell you that you can! By understanding how to apply colour theory to floral design, you will learn how to choose colours for flower arrangements.



The use of colour theory in floral design is of utmost importance for any florist.

Colour often carries the first impression and general emotion of any piece; bright and cheerful; soft and sombre; or eclectic and modern. Florals with high contrast, like yellow and purple, often look jaunty and unusual, whereas a more monochromatic palette of pinks and reds will appear more subtle and cohesive.

The use of saturation can also play with the impact of an arrangement. A collection of soft pinks and pale yellows will suggest youth, spring, and softness. Take that same corner of the colour wheel and turn up the saturation to bright gold and deep red, and you have a dramatic fall arrangement!

It can be tempting to look at which colours you prefer and put them all together, but they can appear disorganized and distract from each other and the arrangement itself.

With a bit of planning, you can accent, complement and highlight some choice colours to really make your arrangement pop!

Back To Basics!

The first step to understanding colour theory is to know where those colours came from. Time for the old colour wheel – you remember this guy from art class?

The first colours we start with are the primary colours – yellow, blue, and red. It’s from these colours that all other colours are made, and you can’t make these colours by mixing any other.
From there, blue and yellow make green, yellow and red make orange, and red and blue make purple. These are the secondary colours. You can go even further, mixing adjacent colours to create tertiary colours like blue-green or teal; yellow-green or chartreuse; red-purple or fuchsia (you get the idea.)
Color wheel. colour theory to floral design/. How To Choose Colours For Flower Arrangements
Now consider which of these colours look best together.
There are established colour “rules” you can refer to when seeking inspiration. We’ll cover the basics, but there are many theories for you to explore.
 How To Choose Colours For Flower Arrangements. complementary coloured flowers. colour theory to floral design


The first one is complementary colours. These are any two colours opposite each other on the colour wheel –  yellow and purple; orange and blue; fuchsia and chartreuse (red-purple and yellow-green). This is the reason Christmas colours work since red and green are opposite each other. It’s also used heavily in summer blockbuster posters: everything is orange and teal. This is a fairly bold look that can be quite striking; think of the purple and gold of royalty or the red and green of a fresh rose.


Split-complementary colours are a trio of one colour and the two colours on either side of its opposite on the wheel.
So for yellow, instead of straight purple, you’d use blue-purple (indigo) and red-purple (fuchsia). For red, instead of green, you’d use blue-green (teal) and yellow-green (chartreuse).
It’s appealing for the same reasons and is still a striking combination, but it can be a softer contrast and often evokes more of a gentle scheme.
How To Choose Colours For Flower Arrangements. split-complementary coloured flowers. colour theory to floral design
analogous coloured flowers. colour theory to floral design


The next rule to check out is using analogous colours. Analogous colours are beside each other on the colour wheel; yellow, chartreuse, and green; fuchsia, red and red-orange; blue, teal and green. They always match nicely and create a cohesive yet flowing look.


From there, it’s pretty easy to move into monochromatic colours.
It takes the simplicity up a notch and uses only one colour on the wheel, adjusting the saturation of it and using different shades. Various shades of reds and pinks are a favourite with flowers, especially around Valentine’s Day. Using white as a base, such as a fluffy hydrangea, and building the colour in deepening shades of yellow creates a soft, sunshine-like brightness.
monochromatic coloured arrangement. colour theory to floral design
colour theory to floral design


The last theory I’ll discuss is triadic colours. These are any three colours that sit equidistant on the colour wheel; red, blue, and yellow; green, orange, and purple; teal, fuchsia, and gold; brick (red-orange), indigo (blue-purple), and chartreuse. This colour scheme tends to appear quite bright, even if you’re using paler or more muted versions of the colours. A good way to tone down this combo if it’s too bright is to mix and match the saturation of the colours. A deeper orange with a softer purple and green, for example, will be more pleasing than all jewel tones or all pastels.

Now that you have the basics of colour, you’re free to mix and match at your whim!

A few things to consider when working with colours: These are not hard and fast rules.
Use them as a starting point and explore from there. Different things like the texture, lighting, surroundings and the amount of each colour used will affect any artistic composition. Try mixing and matching these schemes as well. Try a complementing combination of purple and yellow with an analogous expansion from yellow into chartreuse, green and teal. Or try differing amounts of each colour. Using 80% red components with 15% yellow and 5% blue will look totally different than equal amounts of each.
A few things to consider when working with flowers: They are a natural item and as such the colours will vary from flower to flower. The natural essence of flowers creates a filter through which our brain accepts near-matches far more readily than if you were holding up two almost-matching paint chips. It doesn’t matter as much here to be exact, focus more on the overall effect than the minute details of colour-matching.

Which colour combos are your favourite to see in flower arrangements? Let us know in the comments!

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