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Pantone Color of the Year: 'Living Coral,' a grand slam in the garden

Sombrero Hot Coral echinacea is perennial in zones 4-9 and will attract a wide variety of butterflies.



 (Norman Winter/TNS)
Sombrero Hot Coral echinacea is perennial in zones 4-9 and will attract a wide variety of butterflies. (Norman Winter/TNS)
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‘Living Coral’ is the Pantone Color of the Year for 2019 as set by the gurus of all things color. Typically, we think of clothing or fashion, home decor, and all things indoors when it comes to the color of the year but The Garden Guy says let’s take this outside too.

Coral or as they say Living Coral is probably the rarest of flower colors when it comes to the garden. I love it because it warms but it’s not as scorching hot as orange. In the garden, it will draw attention without being gaudy and is a real treasure when you find it on the shelves.

The growing season is long and we don’t want our flowers to be one-month wonders. The Garden Guy has some picks to give you the most bang for the buck with weeks of glorious flower power.

Look no further than Superbells Coralina, a hybrid calibrachoa. If you haven’t grown calibrachoas yet then know it is like a little petunia. Little is the adjective to describe the difference in flower only as this plant loads up with more flowers than you can count.

This coral beauty also spreads, making hanging baskets and mixed containers suddenly become a piece of art. If you’ve tried calibrachoas and they didn’t last then you need to provide sun, water as needed and to feed regularly. If you do this, your Superbells will literally explode with flowers until pansy planting time in the fall.

One of my favorite partners with the Superbells Coralina is the soft blue from Blue My Mind, Hawaiian Blue Eyes, or Blue daze evolvulus. This color of blue is as rare as coral and once put together form a marriage that is hard to beat. You’ll find the evolvulus also blooms all summer.

Saucy Coral salvia is my next suggestion for your ‘Living Coral’ color of the year garden component. While I like the Coralina for the baskets and containers Saucy Coral will thrill planted in the landscape where its tall spikes of flowers will create untold excitement. The visiting hummingbirds and butterflies will also be part of the daily regimen.

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Saucy Coral will reach close to three feet in height and will mostly be used as an annual. It can be a perennial in zones 9-10 and may occasionally offer a spring return in zone 8. But I assure you the entire Saucy series is worth every penny for the color and power they deliver to the landscape.

Saucy salvias like fertile well-drained soil and plenty of sun that can also give good performance in part-sun locations. Deadheading will keep those flowers coming. Use it with your favorite perennial blue salvias creating informal drifts or sweeps. Intermingling the blue and coral is also dazzling.

If you look at the Pantone ‘Living Coral’ press release, you will find darker and lighter versions or various saturations of the color. In that light, my next flower is the Sombrero Hot Coral echinacea. There is not a gardener around who doesn’t love coneflowers, and Sombrero Hot Coral is a feast for the eyes.

This echinacea is recommended for zones 4-9 meaning just about the whole country can relish in the color of the perennial coneflower. If you look on the internet, you’ll see some advertising that makes it look more-red or orange, I promise it is indeed a ‘Living Coral’. It will reach about 24 inches tall with a 22-inch spread. Give it sunlight, well-drained soil and you’ll find this a treasure for years to come.

Pantone my message to you is that you hit a ‘Grand Slam’ this year and The Garden Guy urges everyone to take ‘Living Coral’ to the landscape too!

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