When it comes to flower arranging, we know you’ve got what it takes. But we also know that you’re always learning ways to improve your skills and make drop-dead gorgeous arrangements. That’s where the flower color wheel comes in: When you’re deciding on color combinations for your beautiful floral designs, the color wheel can be your best friend. So, here are a few ways to use it when planning and designing your arrangements.
Color Wheel Basics
We’re not going to dive too deep into color theory here, but it’s a fascinating subject. The color wheel is a simple way to determine how colors work together:
- Hues opposite each other (complementary colors) provide high contrast and high impact.
- Colors next to each other (analogous colors) can have a soothing effect.
- Three colors spaced evenly on the color wheel (triadic colors) also provide high contrast, but less so than the complementary color combination.
- You can also come up with some exciting looks by combining one color with the two colors adjacent to its complement (split-complementary colors).
As you explore combinations of hues, you can also play with their values (light or dark) and saturation (rich or muted). For example, if you’ve got an arrangement where the colors work together, but it seems a bit flat, try adding some lighter and darker shades of the same colors. Or perhaps you have a bouquet where the colors seem overwhelming. In that case, try adding a few muted versions of the same tones to soften things up.
You also need to take the temperature of your colors — whether they’re warm (red undertones) or cool (blue undertones). Every hue in nature, including the primary colors red, blue, and yellow, can be warm or cool. If something seems off in your arrangement, it may be that you’re combining warm and cool tones of the same color, and it just doesn’t work.
How to Combine Colors Nature’s Way
One trick many florists use is to take a tip from nature when creating their color combinations. You can look at all the different hues and tones in a focal flower, then choose other flowers to combine with it that also have those tones. For example, a pink lily can also have yellow, green, red, and more colors in its throat, center, veins, stems, or leaves. By choosing other plants with these colors, you will have a naturally beautiful combination. And make sure you note whether the focal flower is warm or cool-toned, as this will determine the other flowers you choose. Once you have your tones chosen, you can layer in lighter and darker values and saturated or muted tones.
Build Your Color-combining Chops
You may already have a fantastic eye (we’re confident you do!), but sometimes it’s beneficial to take things back to basics and work through different combinations. This can get you out of your comfort zone, and that’s when you can truly create magic.
Start by working with monochromatic arrangements and playing with saturation, vibrance, and textures. You’ll also see warm or cool tones more clearly when you’re working with one hue. Then, move on to two tones, either analogous or complementary. Choose the two main colors first, then work with texture, vibrance, saturation, and temperature (warm or cool).
Try playing around with three or more colors. You can use split-complementary, triadic, or even tetradic (four equidistant hues on the wheel) combinations. This is when you can experiment and come up with some striking combinations!
How to Choose Colors by Mood and Emotion
Sometimes clients will already know what colors they want in an arrangement. But often, they will defer to you, the professional, to express the emotion they want to convey. That’s when your knowledge of color combinations can save the day. Here are a few ways to use color to convey mood and emotion:
- Friendly, cheerful, playful: Use bright, saturated colors in complementary or triadic combinations. And bring in some white and cream to keep it light.
- Romantic, dreamy, vintage: Paler tones work well in this more muted palette, but dark can work too. Focus on one or two colors and add neutral tones like cream or beige.
- Exotic, vibrant, dramatic: Use primary colors and saturated tones in complementary or triadic combinations. Green is a vital color to express this mood, so incorporate bold foliage.
- Luxurious, sophisticated, rich: Jewel tones and darker saturated values are perfect to set this mood. Think deep reds, blues, purples, and the like. And bring in sculptural textures as well.
Using the flower color wheel, you can take your arrangements to a whole new level. Plus, this is a fantastic tool for training a new designer in your shop. We’d love to see some of the amazing arrangements you make using the tips in this article, so share them with us on social media and tag us! #livrio #colorwheel