15 Best Red Flowering Plants – Bright and Bold Garden Colors

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best red flowering plants

Red is a bright, bold color that adds drama and passion to any area, indoors or out. It can also add warmth and vibrancy and a feeling of romance. It can be a little overpowering if you limit your flowering plants to red, although red and green are complementary colors, and the green tones it down. Also, there are many different shades to choose from, and red combines well with other colors.

When looking for the best red flowering plants for your garden, you will need to consider growing conditions as well as the color red. You will also need to decide whether to plant-primarily red perennials, shrubs, or annuals. One thing is certain, you’ll be spoiled for choice. 

15 Best Red Flowering Plants You Can Grow

red flowering plants

We have chosen a mix of plants with red flowers. Be guided by personal preference as well as availability. 

Just make sure that the red flowering plants you opt for will thrive in your area. If they don’t, you may be limited to growing them in a greenhouse or in containers.

We present our 15 best red flowering plants in alphabetical order:   

Anemone 

Anemones aren’t only Red, but there are so many different red varieties they definitely offer a selection of the best red flowers. Anemones are native to Japan but many species have been developed in Europe and the Mediterranean regions. 

Two of the best include the gorgeous maroon-red Bordeaux cultivar and the rich cherry-red Hollandia anemones, both of which were developed in France.  

Another red beauty is the Italian anemone Mistral Plus Rosso which has black button centers with contrasting white rings. This type thrives in USDA hardiness zones 8-10, while the other two grow well in zones 7-10. 

Azalea 

Radiant red azalea shrubs are closely related to rhododendrons. While rhododendrons are larger than azaleas, azaleas are a Rhododendron species. 

You will find red, bright pink, peach, orange, and even white azaleas in many shades. The choice of red flowers is huge, as there are literally hundreds of red flowering azalea varieties. So, it’s no surprise that red is a favorite color for azalea growers. 

Many azaleas will grow in USDA hardiness zones 3-9. Some, like the stunning evergreen hybrid Rhododendron Stewartsonian, do best in zones 5-8. 

Azaleas are thought to have originated in Japan and Korea, but hybrid plants are found all over the place. They are shade-loving plants. 

Begonia 

Begonias are available in a variety of colors including red, white, pink, yellow, and orange. There are also different types that can be categorized by their root structure. 

For example, hardy begonias, Begonia grandis are grown as perennials in southern U.S. gardens, while tuberous begonias are commonly planted as annuals. 

The tuberous type has the best flowers of all begonias, with large blooms in neon-like shades. The hardy type has small flowers, usually pink or white. 

There are dozens of red varieties including Bliss Deep Red, Ruffled Red, Nonstop Red, and Sun Dancer. They will usually do well in hardiness zones 9, 10, and 11.

Impatiens

Impatiens walleriana, the common impatiens plant, has always been a great choice for shade gardens and containers. But since 2011, when the downy mildew epidemic wiped out the seed-producing stock of many commercial growers, it’s not as widely available as it used to be. 

If you can find it in your local garden center, Soprano Bright Red is a lovely option. But it needs at least 6 hours of full sun daily and only does well in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11. 

Other lovely red Impatiens walleriana plants include Rockapulco Red and Super Elfin. 

Another great option is Impatiens hawkeri, better known as New Guinea impatiens. Many new varieties are bred to resist downy mildew. 

As their name suggests, New Guinea impatiens are native to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. In the U.S., hybrid red flowering varieties, like Infinity Red, grow well in zones 10-12 or are grown as annuals. 

Lobelia Cardinalis

Lobelia is a big genus that includes both perennial and annual species that produce red flowering plants. One beauty is the cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis, a herbaceous perennial native to parts of north, south, and central America.

It forms clumps of dark green leaves and tall flower stalks that produce clusters of scarlet red tubular flowers. There are also cultivars that have rose-pink and white flowers. 

The pure species plant still grows in the wild, and there are some stunning hybrids you can plant in your garden. These include Lobelia x speciosa, known as Fan Scarlet, which grows to about 28 inches, and flowers prolifically from early to mid-summer. 

The cardinal flower does well in USDA zones 3-9 and will grow in zone 2 too. 

Lupin

The choice of lupin colors is brilliant and includes red, pink, white, yellow, blue, and purple. There are also bicolor varieties. 

There are various types including a couple that grows about 2 feet tall and others that are shorter. Native to parts of North America, lupins do well in USDA hardiness zones 4-8. 

Lupinus polyphyllus Gallery Red has a stunning raspberry red color and is a favorite.  

Maltese Cross

Maltese Cross, Lychnis chalcedonica is a red flowering plant that is not very well known. It is also one of the most unusual red perennials you can grow in your garden.

Also known as the Jerusalem Cross flower, the Maltese Cross will grow 3-4 feet tall on a single upright stem.

Native to Mediterranean regions, it is well suited to USDA hardiness zones 4-10. 

Petunia 

Petunias were discovered in South America in the late 18th century. But today, there are so many different hybrids our ancestors wouldn’t believe they were all from the Petunia genus.

There are different forms including Grandiflora, which has large flowers, and Multiflora, which has smaller flowers but lots and lots of them. Cascadia has long, pendulous stems, while Surfinia has trailing stems that support small bell-shaped flowers. 

When you explore the availability of red flower plants that are petunias, a favorite is Petunia Plus Red. It has velvety, bright red petals and flowers that are an endearing trumpet shape. It needs less water than the average variety that will grow in USDA zones 2-11. 

Phlox 

The garden phlox, Phlox paniculata is a colorful, low maintenance plant that commonly grows in USDA hardiness zones 4-8. Some will do well up to zone 10 and even in zone 3. 

Height varies depending on the variety, as does color. Starfire has a vibrant dark magenta flower, while Red Magic tends towards reddish-purple. 

Like impatiens, phlox have suffered from powdery mildew, but some varieties are mildew resistant. When you choose, make sure you check which USDA Zones where it does grows best. 

Poinsettia

The poinsettia is a type of Euphorbia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, which literally translated means the most beautiful Euphorbia. Native to Mexico, it is a deciduous flowering shrub that doesn’t like cold climatic conditions. It can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 10 and higher. 

But did you know that the flowers of the poinsettia aren’t really flowers? They are showy bracts. 

Also, while most of us think of poinsettia flowers as one of the ultimate red flowering plants, the so-called flowers may also be yellow, pink, or white.  

Poppy

Oriental poppies, Papaver orientale, are native to parts of western Asia. But they have naturalized in parts of North America where the winters are cold.

Herbaceous perennials, come in various colors including scarlet red, which is a favorite. They grow best in full sun and will usually thrive in USDA hardiness zones 3-7. You will also find that a few cultivars are suitable for zones 8 and 9. 

Red Rose

What’s not to love about red roses? Probably the most popular red flower of all, they symbolize romance and love. 

There are songs about red roses, and poems. And there’s nothing nicer than a fresh, fragrant-smelling bunch of red roses.

If you decide to grow them in your garden, you’ll be amazed at the choice. In general terms, they need well-drained fertile soil as well as sufficient sunlight and water. 

Some red varieties include Cherry Parfait, Crimson Glory, Munstead Wood, Walko, and Thomas a Becket. Most will thrive in zones 7-9. 

Scarlet Sage

Salvia splendens, also known as red salvia, is a decorative flower with bold, bright red flowers. It’s a perennial plant native to Brazil and can be grown successfully in tropical regions including USDA zones 10 and 11. 

But don’t worry, if you don’t have a tropical climate, all you need to do is grow scarlet sage as an annual.

Scarlet sage grows to a height of 1-2 feet and will spread 9-18 inches. It will grow in the shade but does best in full sun. 

Tulip

The tulip (Tulipa species) is an iconic bulb that flowers in spring. It is also one of the oldest cultivated flowering plants. Tulips have been hybridized to produce flowers in virtually every color of the rainbow, except for blue. 

There are also thousands of different types of tulips with different flower shapes and bloom times. There are even tulips that look like peonies. But the most common shapes resemble cups or goblets.  

While tulips have been grown in Holland since the 17th century, they are native to central Asia. Probably the most popular color of tulips is red because it symbolizes love and romance. 

Tulips grow well in humid climates and do best in USDA hardiness zones 3-8. 

Zonal Geranium 

Zonal geraniums are tropical perennial plants that are members of the Pelargonium genus, family Geraniaceae. Native to South Africa, they are best grown in zones 10 and 11 if you plant them in your garden. 

There are lots of hybrids available today, some of which are derived from Pelargonium inquinans, a stunning red-flowering shrub that grows up to 6.5 feet tall. 

They thrive in full sun and tolerate dry conditions well. In many parts of the U.S., they are grown as annuals or indoors in containers. 

Zonal geraniums are usually red, pink, or purple in color, although you will also find white and bicolored flowers. 

What plant has the prettiest red flower?

prettiest red flower

It’s impossible to judge impartially which plant has the prettiest red flower. Of all those we have included in our best red list, we rank red roses tops. 

What red flowers bloom in summer?

Many red flowers start blooming in spring, sometimes late spring, and then flower all the way through summer. Lupins are one of them, as are begonias and zonal geraniums. 

The cardinal flower blooms in summer, producing a series of flowers well into the fall.

The scarlet red clusters of Maltese cross flowers appear in early to mid-summer.  

What red flowers bloom in spring?

Tulips are, of course, spring-flowering bulbs, and most azaleas bloom in mid-spring. That said, some azaleas, including Encore, bloom from spring, through summer, and even in the fall.   

Begonias will usually bloom in spring through the summer months. Like azaleas, some begonias, like Sun Dancer, bloom from spring until fall. 

Zonal geraniums start flowering in the spring and carry on virtually non-stop until frost stops them. This is one of the reasons they are so popular for window boxes. 

Conclusion

Red flowering plants are attention grabbers. And the choice is so wide you’ve got no excuse for not grabbing people’s attention.

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