The color that always catches my eye in the garden is orange. It is not subtle, it reaches out and commands your attention. Though it is in between red and yellow it is the hallmark color on the color wheel.
Now not any old orange will do for The Garden Guy, I want screaming, shocking orange and the best plant for that is Compact Electric Orange SunPatiens. This is also the best name ever given to a color, perfection indeed.
I've grown this plant for a number of years and one occasion left my little white-haired ladies on the board feeling as though I had just hosted a gala of debauchery. In other words, this color was NOT found on their color wheel.
This is okay as we are not all the same. I hear it from my color designer son as his clients will have a long list of colors to never use. This orange is normally there. On the other hand, sometimes they have such a long list that in the end, he has to ask the question, "Well, what color would you like?"
The Compact Electric Orange is so vivid I think stop signs and firetrucks should adopt the color.
A complementary pairing with any shade of blue is simply riveting. One of my suggestions is Sanguna Atomic Blue petunia. You have to admit electric orange and atomic blue sounds like quite a marriage. The petunia market is loaded with so many varieties however you'll just be choosing what is available. But it's not just blue petunias, but blue salvias too.
You may find it hard to believe but should you plant Compact Electric Orange SunPatiens even now you may actually have them blooming for the next 150 days or more in the deep south. I know of no other plants that can match this type of garden performance.
Soil preparation plays a critical role in your success with SunPatiens which are, New Guinea hybrids. The soil should be fertile, organic-rich and very well drained. In almost every instance I have planted them on raised beds comprised of a prepared landscape mix, an application of a controlled release fertilizer, with a good layer of mulch. The fertilizer is important as it gives the plants a quick jump start.
Though I have been talking about their ability to perform in full sun, they are just as sensational in morning sun and afternoon shade, high filtered light or any location other than dense shade.
You will find SunPatiens in 3 growth habits, vigorous, compact and spreading. While this is mostly true, I can also say in the south, they are all pretty vigorous. To me, this just means there are more glorious flowers to enjoy. Compact Electric Orange reaches 14- 32 inches in height with an equal spread.
Recently I saw a terrific planting of electric orange that was broken up by Fresh Look Yellow celosia, had a dash of blue from Cathedral Deep Blue salvia and a front layer of Lanai Peach verbena.
Though I love the psychedelic orange there are plenty of lavenders, pinks, lilacs, whites and even reds throughout the series, one or two of which should fit your palette. Be forewarned there is a very good chance they will still be looking good when it is time to plant pansies. Oh, what a problem!
(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, "Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South" and "Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden." Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)