15 Red-Flowering Plants to Consider for Your Garden

Azalea 'kazuko' plant with red ruffled flowers in sunlight

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Red flowers have several advantages in a garden. Red is a warm color that can be used to influence one's perception of a landscape. For instance, using red flowers in a border can draw attention to that particular area of your yard and away from other areas. Red flowers are also thought to inject emotional energy and a sense of romance into a garden. Through deliberate use of red flowers and careful planning, you can control how people see your landscape and even their emotional experience.

Here are suggestions for 15 plants featuring red flowers or seed structures that contribute this vibrant color to your garden.

Design Tip

Bold red, and lots of it, can make an undeniable statment in a garden design. But planting bicolor flowers, in which a predominate red also includes a related yellow or orange hue or a contrasting white, is also worth considering. Bicolor coreopsis flowers, for example, can help you achieve maximum effect with minimal design effort.

  • 01 of 15

    Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus x)

    Hardy hibiscus flower with red petals and long stigma closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Hibiscus is often considered a tropical flower, but the hardy hibiscus is a shrubby, woody-stemmed perennial that has been creating by crossing different hibiscus species, including H. moscheutos, H. coccineusH. laevisH. militaris, and H. palustris. The result are a group of hybrid plants that are hardy into zones 4 or 5, vastly improving on the tropical preferences of most hibiscus species. These hybrid plants typically grow to about 4 feet tall with large pink or red flowers sometimes as much as 10 inches across.

    Hardy hibiscus plants have a shrubby growth habit and woody, but they generally die back in the winter. Cut the stems back to 3 to 4 inches in winter in cooler climates.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–9 (depends on variety)
    • Color Varieties: Red, pink, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist, rich
  • 02 of 15

    Hardy Jewel Coreopsis (Coreopsis Hardy Jewel Series)

    My picture shows Ruby Frost coreopsis. It's a bi-colored flower with a rich red color.
    David Beaulieu

    Hardy Jewel is a trademarked series of thread leaf coreopsis cultivars that feature flowers with red petals edged another color. Hardy Jewel 'Ruby Frost' has white edges around ruby-colored edges. With Hardy Jewel 'Desert Coral', the edges of the petals are peach/coral in color. There are also other coreopsis cultivars with red flowers, such as 'Limerock Ruby'.

    This perennial plant forms mounds to a height of about 16 to 18 inches, with a spread of up to twice that. It's excellent for attracting butterflies, plus the birds and the bees, while deer reputedly tend not to eat it. Since established plants tolerate drought, Ruby Frost coreopsis does furnish you with another option for xeriscaping, although they will not bloom as prolifically in low-water gardens.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–9
    • Color Varieties: Red with white or peach edges
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained
  • 03 of 15

    Hardy Mum (Chrysanthemum x morifolium)

    red chrysanthemum
    Adél Békefi / Getty Images

    A staple of fall planting beds, hardy mums (chrysanthemums) come in a variety of colors, including a number of vivid reds, such as 'Autumn Red'. Hardy mums are often purchased as fully flowering nursery specimens and planted as annuals for a burst of fall color. But if you want to grow them as perennials, plant them in the spring to allow them to fully establish root systems by fall. Most varieties are hardy to zone 5, but a few have been developed that survive all the way to zone 3. The plants can grow to 3 feet tall, with a spread of 2 feet or more.

    If you grow them as perennials, make sure to keep mums pinched back during the spring and summer to force them into a fuller, bushier growth for fall. Left to their own, these plants can get leggy and flimsy.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–9
    • Color Varieties: Red, bronze, orange, white, yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist, rich, well-drained
  • 04 of 15

    Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

    Lobelia Fulgens Queen Victoria Flowers
    By Eve Livesey / Getty Images

    The Lobelia genus is a large one with several annual and perennial species with red flowers, such as Lobelia cardinalis, known commonly as cardinal flower. The pure species plant is a native perennial wildflower, but there are also some good hybrid Lobelia cultivars, such as Lobelia x speciosa 'Fan Scarlet', that are more common in garden use. Fan Scarlet grows to about 28 inches tall and flowers with stalks covered with red blooms in early to mid summer. It is a fairly fine-textured plant that contrasts well with coarser-textured plants in a mixed border garden.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–9
    • Color Varieties: Scarlet red
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium to wet; good tolerance for boggy soils
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  • 05 of 15

    Peony (Paeonia spp.)

    Burma ruby peony with red petals closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Few red-blooming plants are as dramatic as red cultivars of hybrid peonies. The peonae genus includes more than 30 species of herbaceous perennials and shrubby plants. Peonies grown in garden cultivation are generally divided into hybrid types based on three species:

    P. tenuifolia, the fern-leaf peony, has bright crimson flowers. It is a somewhat temperamental plant, but once established in a location it likes, it will thrive for many decades.

    The very common hybrid herbaceous peonies based on P. lactiflora and other species are also very long-lived plants. Some good red hybrids include 'Red Charm', 'Jean Ericksen', 'Fairy Princess', and ‘Early Scout'.

    Tree peonies with red blooms include Paeonia suffruticosa, and cultivars such as 'Dutchess of Kent'.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Color Varieties: Red, pink, white, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, rich, well-drained
  • 06 of 15

    Zonal Geranium (Pelargonium x horatum)

    Red Geranium
    Hans / Pixabay

    The common geranium plants seen in window boxes, hanging baskets, and cemetery plantings are hybrid plants derived from species in the Pelargonium genus. They are much different plants than the true hardy geraniums that actually own the genus name Geranium.

    The zonal geraniums are tropical perennials that are usually planted as annuals. Although sometimes regarded as over-used plants, zonal geranium hold up so well with so little care than their continued popularity is guaranteed.

    Known as "zonal" because the leaves exhibit divided zones of color, these plants are known for large clusters of flowers that continue to bloom almost non-stop from spring until frost. Zonal geraniums have an upright growth habit, but a closely related plant, Pelargonium peltatum, is the ivy-leaved geranium, which has a trailing habit that makes it excellent for hanging baskets or to cascade over the edge of large pots.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; usually planted as annuals
    • Color Varieties: Red, pink, purple, white, bicolors
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average moisture, rich, well-drained; good tolerance for dry conditions
  • 07 of 15

    Maltese Cross Flowers (Silene chalcedonica or Lychnis chalcedonica)

    Field of Lychnis chalcedonica
    Say-Cheese / Getty Images

    Named for the shape of the lobed flowers, Maltese cross grows 3 to 4 feet tall on a single vertical stem. The scarlet-red flower clusters appear in early to mid-summer. Also known as the Jerusalem Cross Flower, Maltese cross is drought tolerant and easily brights up flower gardens, attracting butterflies in summer. The plant may need to be staked to prevent it from flopping, especially where it does not receive full sun.

    Maltese cross in a Mediterranean native and will do best in climates that resemble that region—mild winters and hot, dry summers.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–10
    • Color Varieties: Scarlet red
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Consistently moist, well-drained
  • 08 of 15

    Oriental Poppies (Papaver orientale)

    Red poppy on thin stem in front of field with red poppies and wildflowers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Although cultivars in other colors are available, bright orangish-red is the classic color for the perennial oriental poppy. This short-lived perennial is a cold-weather plant that needs a period of winter chill in order to thrive—it is not a plant suited to warm climates. It often fades out in mid summer, then begins to general new basal leaves in fall, which will produce blooms the following summer.

    Oriental poppies self-seed freely, but the volunteer offspring may not resemble the parent plants. Therefore, this short-lived plant is better propagated by taking basal cuttings and replanting them.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Color Varieties: Red, orange, purple, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, rich, well-draining
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  • 09 of 15

    Tulips (Tulipa spp. and Hybrids)

    Red tulips
    Ludex2014 / Pixabay

    Tulips comprise a vast array of spring-blooming bulbs of various types and classes, and each category has many bright red varieties to choose from. Tulips require a chilling period in order to bloom, so if grown in warm climates, the bulbs are usually planted as annuals that have been commercially chilled before sale. In colder climates, many types are reliably hardy and perennial, although more unique hybrids may loose their vigor after a few years. Be sure to furnish tulips with a soil that has good drainage. Tulips usually bloom in April and May.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Color Varieties: All color except blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, rich, well-drained
  • 10 of 15

    Azalea (Rhododendron spp.)

    Red Azalea
    JamesDeMers / Pixabay

    Closely related to rhododendrons, azalea shrubs are usually deciduous woody plants that bloom in spring. There is a vast array of colors available, inluding bright red azaleas such as 'Stewartstonian' (Rhododendron x Gable 'Stewartstonian'), suitable for growing in zones 5–8. The green summer foliage of this red azalea yields to a mahogany color in winter, making it an ideal candidate to provide year-round interest on the landscape.

    There are also azaleas bred for colder climates, as far north as zone 3. Azalea shrubs can vary greatly in size, ranging from dwarf varieties growing 3 or 4 feet tall to 15-foot varieties. The azalea is a good choice for foundation plantings since most varieties remain a relatively compact plants.

    Apply an organic mulch to protect its shallow roots from water loss and extremes in soil temperature.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–9
    • Color Varieties: Red, pink, white orange
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade (some varieties will tolerate full sun)
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist but well-drained, acidic
  • 11 of 15

    Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides)

    Redhead coleus (Plectranthus or Solenostemon scuttellarioides ) - Pembroke Pines, Florida, USA
    Holly Guerrio / Getty Images

    Not all plants achieve brilliant red color through their flowers. Coleus plants are available in many varieties with bright red foliage. Coleus is a tropical perennial usually grown as an annual in garden beds and containers. The red coleus' color works well with yellow flowers such as marigolds.

    Traditionally a shade plant, there are now types of coleus that can be grown in the sun. It remains, however, a great plant for brighting shady spots of th e garden. While it does bloom, the flowers of coleus are insignificant and often are pinched off to promote more vigorous foliage.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; can be grown everywhere as an annual
    • Color Varieties: Foliage colors include reds, pinks, greens, purples, oranges, and multi colors
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade; some varieties tolerate full sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist, rich, well-drained
  • 12 of 15

    Red Salvia (Salvia splendens)

    Red salvia
    Doug Menuez / Forrester Images / Getty Images

    Salvia is quite a large genus of annual and perennial plants, many of which have red flowers. But the most popular of these is Salvia splendens, often known simply as red salvia or scarlet sage.

    Because of its color, red salvia is useful in decorations for holidays such as Halloween and 4th of July. Although it is a perennial plant in tropical climates, red salvia is treated as an annual in most regions where it is used. Typically, salvia plants grow rapidly and thrive in warm summer temperatures.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11 (can be grown as an annual everywhere)
    • Color Varieties: Red (white and bicolor cultivars also available)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Evenly moist, well-drained
    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)

    Fruits of Ricinus Communis plant or Castor bean plant or Castor oil plant
    Zen Rial / Getty Images

    The bright red found in the towering caster bean plant is not due to the flowers (which are an insignificant greenish-yellow), but rather in the large spiny reddish seed pods. Castor bean seed pods are very pretty to look at, but be aware that the seeds are very toxic—this is the plant from which the highly poisonous ricin powder, famous for being used in terrorist attacks, is derived.

    Notoriety aside, caster bean is an important crop and can create an interesting accent in a garden that is carefully supervised. Visitors will be quite curious about these unique plant, towering 6 to 12 feet tall with enormous glossy leaves. But these are not plants to grow where curious children play.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11; grown as annuals elsewhere
    • Color Varieties: Reddish seed pods; foliage may be green, reddish, or bronze
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Evenly moist, rich, well-drained
  • 14 of 15

    Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus)

    Close up of red blooming amaranthus flower with hanging blossoms
    Ralf Liebhold / Getty Images

    The provocatively named love-lies-bleeding is one of several plants in the Amaranth genus with red flowers that appear in dangling clusters that resemble catkins. The genus includes both annual and short-lived perennial species, many of which are considered weedy, such as pigweed (A. albus). Love-lies-bleeding is a 3- to 5-foot annual species that gets its name from the drooping panicles of flowers that appear from July all the way to frost. It is commonly used in beds and borders, and smaller cultivars are sometimes planted in hanging baskets.

    The seeds of amaranth are sometimes harvested and used as an addition to cereals and in bread recipes.

    • USDA Growing Zones: Grown as an annual in all zones
    • Color Varieties: Red
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
  • 15 of 15

    Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

    Virginia creeper vines
    Perry Mastrovito / Getty Images

    Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a perennial vine that can grow aggressively to a length of 50 feet or more. Its claim to red fame comes from the brilliant reddish color it assumed in fall. This is principally a foliage plant, since the greenish-white summer flowers are not very impressive. Blue-black berries are revealed when the leaves drop, serving birds with a favorite meal.

    This plant should be used carefully, since it can engulf structures and cause damage to wood surfaces. But it can be great for disguising unwanted features, like old garden sheds or walls. It can also work as a ground cover in areas where there are no vertical structures to climb.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–9
    • Color Varieties: Green summer foliage gives way to brilliant red-burgundy is fall (greenish-white flowers are insignificant)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained