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When It Comes to Landscape Color, Orange Crushes It

Clinton Lak of ArtisTree Landscape gets into orange color theory with five of his orangey-ist plant favorites.

Presented by ArtisTree Landscape February 8, 2019

“As a kid I associated the color orange with warmth and comfort -- probably because I grew up in the Massachusetts town of Chicopee where nor’easters whipped through on a regular basis. Today I’m glad to get my orange fix in Florida’s tropical paradise. Marmalades, tangerines, brilliant neons -- I agree with Frank Sinatra when he called orange the happiest color.”  - Clinton Lak, Degreed Landscape Architect, ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design

Orange is one of those “look at me” colors that can sculpt a landscape in a deliberate way. You can use it to frame a seating area, cozy up a large space or draw guests to your grilling area (orange stimulates the appetite, too). As a warm and energetic color, orange moves the eye forward but can be overpowering, so watch out for orange overload. Here are five oranges ArtisTree has a crush on, ranging from sizzling to staple specimens we promise won’t disappoint.

Orange Geiger Tree 
If you’re looking for a stunning coastal tree that’s salt- and drought-tolerant, the Orange Geiger is a brilliant choice. Bright crinkly blossoms appear year round but especially in spring and summer. We like a simple strong trunk vs. multi-trunk specimens. Frothy frills come in yellow and white, but hummingbirds prefer tasty orange. Geigers thrive in sandy, alkaline soil but hate the cold (we prefer not to spec them inland). These evergreen sun lovers will grow to 25 feet and grace you with a showy, 20-foot-wide canopy. 

A few years ago the ubiquitous ixora fell a bit out of favor because it was viewed as old-fashioned. (Seriously?) But this dependable, nearly year-round bloomer remains an old-school-cool choice for both informal and manicured landscapes. Two of our zestiest favorites are Maui and Prince of Orange – both lush flowering shrubs that are moderately drought- and salt-tolerant. They don’t mind partial shade but produce more clusters when the sun’s shining down on their dark, leathery leaves. Easy care with a punchy attitude, ixora is something you’ll want more of. 

We love these tiny dancers with their polka dots of orange twirling on two-foot stalks. Not until 2006, when it was named plant of the year by the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association, did bulbine gain its well-deserved place in the sunlight. This drought-tolerant perennial with yellow stamens will bloom repeatedly for you as a mass planting, rock garden accent or even as a jolt of color in your herb garden. Take care not to overwater, and ready yourself for butterflies and hummingbirds. Hardy bulbine is so divine.

If you like a soft, natural look, this South Florida native is a sure-fire way to light up a landscape. Its organic form (we cringe when we see it sheared tight) makes it a great selection for a casual hedge or privacy screen. Tubular reddish-orange flowers bloom all the way up to 15 feet but can be pruned to your space – against high fences, window walls or around patios. True to its name, the indestructible firebush can take the heat; it’s drought/salt-tolerant and disease-resistant, too. Give it full sun and well-drained soil, and it’ll give you back a bud load of fiery beauty.

Bird of Paradise
No wonder Florida residents can’t get enough of this exotic specimen. Striking orange and blue “plumage” makes it look like a bird in flight; in fact, its nickname is the crane plant. Although it grows in full sun, it likes a little shade and well-drained soil. Orange birds expect you to feed them with a good granular fertilizer and regular irrigation, but other than that, there’s not much to do except remove brown leaves and stems. ArtisTree likes BOPs best when used as a dramatic focal point or tropical accent. By the way, these birds will come through for you with flying colors when planted in containers, too.

Dreaming of a landscape renovation? Choose the landscaper that luxury builders use by calling Jenni Lassen at 941.217.7438.. Or visit www.artistree.com.

For community-wide HOA landscape maintenance services, contact Mike Casper at [email protected] and we’ll get your proposal started.  Our nationally ranked company serves Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties.

Clinton Lak, ArtisTree Degreed Landscape Architect