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Get Creative With Combinations

Get Creative With Combinations

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers

Take your spring plantings to the next level by mixing colors in hanging baskets, containers and window boxes. Commercial growers and retailers have capitalized on this trend by offering instant combinations you can purchase. You can have fun mixing your own and coordinating color schemes throughout your outdoor living spaces.

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Two of a Kind

The easiest scheme is to plant two contrasting varieties of the same type, such as two colors of petunias.

Plant two of each color for fullness and balance. One of each color can create an oblong football shape.

One Suntory Mixer, Surfinia Sweethearts, above, pairs two petunias with novel heart patterns – Surfinia Heartbeat Improved and Purple Heart. These two varieties performed well in trials last summer. I really enjoyed the hanging basket I made at my home.

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For early spring, try pairing vivid Senetti pericallis colors. Bicolor Blitz, top, pairs two top sellers, Magenta Bicolor and Blue Bicolor. Neon Nites, bottom, pairs two saturated solids – Magenta and Deep Blue. Senetti loves cool weather and will tolerate temperatures down to 35 degrees. But it won’t last through the summer.

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Three of a Kind

Adding white as a third color really makes the other two colors pop! We’ve done this with several of our Surfinia petunia Suntory Mixers – Plum Perfection, Heavenly Blues and Pink Cheer. We chose a dark color, a midrange color and then white. Heavenly Blues, above, features Purple Majesty for the dark blue, Heavenly Blue for the mid and then White Improved.

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Surdiva scaevolas make outstanding summer combos that are easy to care for. Fan-shaped flowers blend together and don’t require deadheading. Disco Diva features Blue Violet, Fashion Pink and White Improved.

Another great summer annual is Soiree Kawaii catharanthus – vinca’s cute little sister! Our Lady Liberty blend features Red Shades, White Peppermint and Blueberry Kiss. Perfect for the Fourth of July!

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Mixing It Up

After you’ve mastered mixing the same types of plants together, try mixing different types of annuals. The key is to choose plants with harmonious growth habits and sun and water needs. Too often, one aggressive variety can dominate the entire planter or basket. With experience, you can choose plants that play well together.

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One of my favorite Suntory Mixers is Bee Daring. We chose the more compact petunia Surfinia Deep Red to pair with scaevola Surdiva Blue Violet and the sunny bidens, Beedance Red Stripe. You get a high contrast, primary colors effect. This combination has also been outstanding in summer garden trials.

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Years ago, Suntory Flowers developed a Virtual Combo Designer app to encourage creativity and experimentation. Although you still need to know the sun and water needs, you can see how the plants would grow together in terms of vigor. On your iPad, select the type of urn or basket, choose the varieties with a swipe of your finger and voila! Instant combination.

Download the app here: Suntory VCD on the App Store ( If you have an older iPad, it should work. Unfortunately, the app has not been updated for newer models.

For more information on Suntory Flowers, visit

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