Red flowers can add a touch of drama and spice to a planting scheme. Grow them alongside purple-coloured blooms for a sumptuous border or container display, or combine with zingy orange flowers and cornflower blues for bolder effect. As well as looking great in border displays, red flowers also look great in the vase, again working with a variety of other colours to dramatic effect.
The colour of red flowers is caused by the presence of certain biological pigments in the petals, such as carotenoids, anthocyanins and betalains. These, along with environmental factors such as soil pH and presence of trace elements, determines the shade of red, from almost pink to deep crimson.
We list 40 of the best red-flowered plants to grow, including perennials, shrubs and climbers, below.
Poppies are one of the best known red flowers to grow, with their paper-thin, delicate blooms. Annual poppies include (Papaver commutatum 'Ladybird', Papaver rhoeas, Papaver somniferum) while a popular perennial is Papaver orientale 'Perry's White'. All do best in a spot in full sun.
H x S: 55cm x 55cm
Alonsoa meridionalis 'Rebel'
Although technically a half-hardy perennial, Alonsoa meridionalis 'Rebel' is best grown in Britain as an annual and makes a great bedding plant. It will produce masses of scarlet flowers from June to October.
H x S: 60cm x 40cm
Dianthus, or pinks, are cottage garden favourites. Grow these short-lived perennials at the front of borders or in containers. Dianthus cruentus bears single, magenta flowers, and will make a wonderfully delicate addition to your border.
H x S: 60cm x 15cm
H x S: 90cm x 90cm
Monarda ‘Gardenview Scarlet’
Bergamot is a tough, herbaceous perennial that grows best in moist soils. The foliage is aromatic and the shaggy blooms are loved by bees. For scarlet blooms, try 'Gardenview Scarlet' or 'Cambridge Scarlet.
H x S: 90cm x 50cm
Salvias are a great addition to the summer garden, with months of blooms and nectar-rich flowers a magnet for pollinating insects. Salvias with red flowers to grow include 'Silas Dyson' and 'Royal Bumble'. They're best planted in a sheltered spot in full sun, in a moist, well-drained soil.
H x S: 60cm x 30cm
Crocosmias are much-loved for their sprays of hot-coloured flowers. One of the best known red-flowered cultivars is 'Lucifer', with arching sprays of fiery red blooms. It is one of the tallest varieties and makes an excellent cut flower. Other red varieties include 'Hellfire' and 'Harvest Sun'.
H x S: 1.5m x 50cm
You won't be surprised to hear that there are plenty of roses with red flowers to choose from. To cover garden boundaries and structures, try a climbing rose like 'Parkdirektor Riggers', and for interest in a large pot or at the front of a herbaceous border, try a Floribunda rose like ‘Drama Queen’.
H x S: varied
Callistemon citrinus ‘Splendens’
With dramatic, red flower spikes in summer, it's easy to see why Callistemon citrinus ‘Splendens’ is also known as the bottlebrush plant. Not only are the flowers striking, but the foliage of this plant releases a lemony scent when touched. It requires warm, sheltered conditions.
H x S: 1.5m x 1.5m
Peonies are hugely popular. There are many red-flowered cultivars to choose from, for year round structure, try a tree peony like 'Shin Jitsugetsu Nishiki', or for fragrance, take a look at 'Monsieur Martin Cahuzac', which has a rich, spicy scent. And for a dramatic punch in late spring and early summer, look no further than Paeonia 'Chocolate Soldier'.
H x S: 70cm x 70cm
Achillea millefolium 'Fanal'
Achillea millefolium ‘Fanal’ is ideal for growing at the back of a herbaceous border, and will stand out with its bright orange-red flowers. The flat and colourful flowerheads are perfect for attracting a range of pollinators. It will work well with other perennial flowers and cottage garden planting schemes.
H x S: 75cm x 60cm
Abutilon 'Ashford Red'
Chinese lantern, Abutilon 'Ashford Red', is a tall, evergreen shrub with bell- or lantern-shaped blooms. It will need protection from frost, and is only tolerant of temperatures down to 1°c.
H x S: 3m x 2m
Hesperantha coccinea ‘Major’
Hesperantha coccinea ‘Major’ bursts into colour just as most other garden plants are dying down in the autumn. The delicate pink-red flowers are reminiscent of a wide open crocus. It makes an excellent cut flower.
H x S: 60cm x 30cm
With their foxglove-like flowers, penstemons work well in cottage garden planting schemes, plus they're very attractive to bumblebees. Many varieties have red flowers, including Penstemon 'Red Ace' (pictured), which has rich, deep red blooms from midsummer until the first frosts.
H x S: 60cm x 45cm
Daylilies will flower for weeks, but individual blooms last for only one day. For a splash of red, look no further than Hemerocallis ‘Stafford’, a vibrant addition to your garden which has bright scarlet flowers with a deep yellow throat.
H x S: 75 x 45cm
Achillea millefolium 'Red Velvet'
With their feathery foliage and striking flat, circular heads of flowers throughout summer, achillea are an excellent addition to many planting schemes. They come in a range of colours, but Achillea millefolium 'Red Velvet' is a particularly vibrant choice.
H x S: 60cm x 50cm
Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty'
For a splash of colour later in the season, look no further than Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty' which will make a statement in any planting scheme, whether it be a hot colour scheme or a pastel hued border. The flowers are useful for cutting and great for bees.
H x S: 90cm x 60cm
Lobelia cardinalis is another excellent choice for colour later in the year, this perennial flowers throughout summer and well into autumn. It thrives in damp conditions, and can even be planted in shallow water at the edge of a pond. Bright red flowers appear on stems that can reach up to 1m in height.
H x S: 100cm x 30cm
- Buy Lobelia cardinalis 'Queen Victoria' from Crocus
- Buy Lobelia cardinalis 'Queen Victoria' from Thompsom & Morgan
Chrysanthemum 'Ruby Mound'
Not only will Chrysanthemum 'Ruby Mound' make a bold statement in your border with its large double ruby red blooms, it also makes an excellent cut flower. It will work particularly well in cottage garden schemes, being both hardy and free flowering.
H x S: 50cm x 50cm
Coreopsis 'Limerock Ruby'
Coreopsis are bright and cheerful plants that bear daisy-like blooms in a variety of colours. Red-flowered 'Limerock Ruby' is reliable and easy to grow, and would work well in a hot planting scheme, or to add a flash of colour to container displays.
H x S: 50cm x 50cm
Zinnia tenuifolia ‘Red Spider’
Zinnia bear intricate, delicate and striking blooms. Zinnia tenuifolia 'Red Spider' is a neat and compact plant, with dainty, spider-like, scalloped flowers in bright red. Easy to grow from seed, it will work well in a sunny border or in a container.
H x S: 60cm x 20cm
Pelargonium ‘Balcon Mixed’
Pelargonium 'Balcon Mixed' is a collection of trailing ivy-leaved geraniums, available in a variety of colours including red. Plants grow well in pots or hanging baskets in a sunny spot, and their trailing blooms will spill over the edges.
H x S: 45cm x 90cm
Easy to grow from seed, sun-loving and with a long flowering season, cosmos make an excellent choice for a vibrant border. Red cosmos varieties include Cosmos bipinnatus 'Rubenza' and Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Gazebo Red’.
H x S: 75cm x 30cm
- Buy Cosmos bipinnatus 'Rubenza' from Thompson & Morgan
- Buy Cosmos 'Velouette' from Dobies
- Buy Cosmos bipinnatus 'Dazzler' from Crocus
Although they have a reputation for being a little old-fashioned, a vibrant, blousy, burst of red from a begonia in a border or hanging basket is hard to resist. There are many red varieties to choose from, such as the scarlet blooms of Begonia 'Red Glory' and 'Illumination Scarlet', or the large flowers of Begonia 'Prima Donna Red'.
H x S: varied
With their distinctive, tall towers of blooms, delphiniums are intrinsically linked to the cottage garden. Red-flowered varieties include Delphinium nudicaule ‘Redcap’ (pictured), a compact variety with orange-red flowers. Grow in full sun or dappled shade, in moist, well-drained soil. 'Red Lark' is a taller variety with unusual salmon-red flowers.
H x S: 75cm x 40cm
Also known as sword lilies, gladioli are useful for adding a bold splash of colour to a sunny herbaceous border, they also make an excellent cut flower. Popular red varieties include Gladiolus 'Plum Tart' or Gladiolus papilio 'Ruby'.
H x S: 75cm x 45cm
This hardy perennial is famed for its showy summer blooms, making it a popular choice, plus it is easy to grow. Red varieties of alstroemeria include Alstroemeria ‘Adele’, Alstroemeria 'Angel' (pictured), Alstroemeria 'Spitfire' and Alstroemeria 'Nirvana'.
H x S: 30cm x 50cm
Astilbe 'Fanal' (× _arendsii_)
With its bold spikes of red blooms, Astilbe 'Fanal' (× _arendsii_) certainly makes a scarlet statement in the garden. The flowers will keep their colour for a few weeks, and like other astilbe they will thrive in a shady spot.
H x S: 60cm x 45cm
Perfect for adding a splash of colour to pots and borders, Anemone coronaria flowers from May to June. It's common name is florist's anemone, so as you'd expect, it also makes an excellent cut flower.
H x S: 30cm x 20cm
Iconic beacons of spring, tulips are hard to resist in April and May. They will grow well in pots or can be combined in borders to great effect. Red tulips include 'Toyata' and 'Glasnost' (pictured), browse our list of the best red tulips to grow for more inspiration.
H x S: 40-60cm x 15cm
Chaenomeles × superba 'Crimson and Gold'
This compact, hardy shrub produces vibrant red flowers in the spring and is also a useful ground cover plant. Commonly known as Japanese quince, spring flowers are followed by yellow fruit which you can use to make jelly and other preserves.
H x S: 1.5m x 2.5cm
Much-loved and commonly grown, fuchsias are a staple for many gardeners with their delightful blooms and long flowering season. Red varieties include Fuchsia 'Snowcap' which has bright red outer sepals and Fuchsia ‘Chang’ (pictured) with its red tubular blooms.
H x S: various
Potentilla thurberi ‘Monarch’s Velvet’
For a pop of red in a herbaceous border, look no further than Potentilla thurberi ‘Monarch’s Velvet. This clump-forming perennial produces strawberry-like, deep red flowers in the summer. Plant with other sun-loving flowering plants for a stunning display all summer.
H x S: 40cm x 40cm
Phaseolus coccineus ‘Painted Lady’
This traditional runner bean variety produces large crops of well-flavoured beans, but it's also worth growing for its red and white flowers. The attractive blooms of Phaseolus coccineus ‘Painted Lady’ mean it will be just as valuable in the flower garden as on the vegetable patch.
H x S: 200cm x 10cm
Add a striking addition to your garden with Feijoa sellowiana, this exotic evergreen shrub bears purple-pink flowers with significant, bright red stamens. If grown in a spot that doesn't reach temperatures below 5°C, you can look forward to delicious fruits.
H x S: 2m x 2.5m
Weigela are easy to grow shrubs that put on an eye-catching display of funnel-shaped flowers, popular with bees, in the early summer. Varieties bearing red flowers include Weigla 'Bristol Ruby' , Weigla 'Nain Rouge' and Weigela 'Florida Red'.
H x S: 2.4m x 1.8m
Rhododendrons are popular flowering shrubs, and there are thousands of cultivars to choose from ranging from those suited to containers to much larger plants. They require the right acidic growing conditions, but get this right and you'll be treated to a display of vibrant blooms in early summer. Red varieties include Rhododendron 'Dopey', Rhododendron 'Vulcan' and Rhododendron 'Leo'.
H x S: Various
Tropaeolum majus 'Empress of India'
One of the easiest annuals to grow, nasturtiums flower from midsummer right through until the first frosts, making them a star of any garden. Plus, all parts of the plant are edible. Tropaeolum majus 'Empress of India' is a non-trailing variety with deep red, semi-double flowers that contract beautifully against purple-green leaves.
H x S: 30cm x 45cm
- Buy Tropaeolum majus 'Empress of India' from Crocus
- Buy Tropaeolum majus 'Empress of India' from Primrose
Red hot pokers
Kniphofia, or red hot pokers, are a perennial with bottlebrush blooms in a range of fiery colours including orange and red hues, making them the perfect addition to a hot-coloured border in a sunny spot. Kniphofia ‘Nancy’s Red’ bears bright red, orange spikes that will provide striking interest all summer.
H x S: 70cm x 60cm
The amount of clematis to choose from for your garden can be overwhelming, with a vast range of flower size, colour and shape. Narrow the search down by choosing vibrant red varieties, including Clematis 'Nubia', Clematis 'Rebecca' (pictured) which is compact and ideal for pots, and Clematis 'Charmaine'.
H x S: various