The colour of red flowers is caused by the presence of certain biological pigments in the petals, such as carotenoids, anthocyanins and betalains.
Red-flowered plants, chosen wisely, can be the crowning glory of a planting scheme. Grow them alongside plum-coloured blooms for a sumptuous border or container display. Or combine with zingy oranges and cornflower blues for bolder effect.
Plus, hot borders wouldn’t be complete without red blooms combined with spicy yellows and oranges.
Check out our handy Plant Finder to discover lots more red-flowered plants.
Discover 10 of the best plants with red flowers, including perennials, shrubs and climbers, below.
Poppies are one of the best known red flowers to grow. Annual poppies include (Papaver rhoeas, Papaver commutatum, Papaver somniferum, while the popular perennial poppy of choice is Papaver orientale. All enjoy a spot in full sun.
When grown in the UK, mask flowers (alonsoa) are usually treated as annuals, though, as perennials, it’s possible to overwinter them. Growing to around a metre tall, they’re ideal for the middle of borders.
Dianthus, or pinks, are cottage garden favourites. Grow these short-lived perennials at the front of borders or in containers. If you dislike the more showy cultivars, try growing Dianthus cruentus – a gorgeous species with single, magenta flowers.
There are a huge variety of dahlias to grow, red cultivars included. For pollinators, choose single varieties like ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ or the bronze-leaved ‘Tally Ho’. Here’s our advice on how to lift dahlias for winter.
Bergamot (monarda) 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, grow a cultivar like ‘Cambridge Scarlet’ or ‘Squaw’.
Intense-red, narrow flowers of salvia ‘Honey Melon’
Crocosmias are much-loved for their sprays of hotly coloured flowers. One of the best known red-flowered cultivars is ‘Lucifer’. Others include ‘Hellfire’ and ‘Harvest Sun’. Try combining with perennials like Verbena bonariensis and calamagrostis grasses.
There are lots of roses with red flowers you could grow. To cover garden boundaries and structures, try a climbing rose like ‘Parkdirektor Riggers’ (pictured). If you’re after a deep red rose, ‘Black Beauty’ is one of the best.
Callistemons are unusual plants, also known as bottlebrush plants, owing to the striking red flowers. The foliage has a lovely, lemony scent. Grows to the size of a large shrub or small tree.
Peonies are gorgeous and robust plants, with lots of red-flowered cultivars available to buy and grow. 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.
Planting partners for red flowers
- Liatris – striking perennial with bottlebrush, amethyst blooms. Great for bees
- Echinacea – lots of cultivars to choose from. Pink and orange types combine especially well
- Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ – red flowers stand out against the dark bronze foliage of this cultivar
- Calamagrostis – these grasses are ideal for breaking up planting schemes and adding texture
- Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’ – rich, plum-coloured blooms and popular with pollinators
- Birches – these small trees are perfect for underplanting with red-flowered plants