Red is not your colour? You might be surprised at how well hot-coloured blooms can blend with other shades or bring new contrast to areas dominated by foliage.
Here are a few red possibilities which are hardy in Zone 2 or 3. If you are inspired, look for them at your local nursery or through an online supplier. I've listed them in order of bloom time.
Consider this pretty cultivar an early summer Valentine.
Unlike other Dicentra, which tend to have rosy blossoms, the flowers on 'Valentine' are a true cherry red. I have seen this plant growing quite successfully in a Zone 2 Thunder Bay garden.
Plant where it will have partial shade, respite from hot afternoon sun, and rich, moist soil. These growing conditions should keep 'Valentine' coming back each spring.
A compact cultivar, 'Grand Marshall' grows 13-16" tall with a 16-20" spread. The fuschia-red blooms are sure to attract hummingbirds and other pollinators to your garden.
This cultivar comes from the Morden Breeding Program in Manitoba. Hardiness and mildew resistance were key improvements the plant breeders were striving to establish and 'Grand Marshall' is rated for Zone 3.
Interestingly, 'Grand Marshall' is the culture plant being used to develop hardy Monarda cultivars we will see in the future.
Hollyhocks are an old-fashioned plant that is making a comeback, especially with the introduction of double-flowered varieties that are more resistant to rust.
'Double Scarlet' has wine red blooms on tall stalks (4-6 ft). A great plant for adding impact to a mixed border. Average, well-drained soil and plenty of sun keep Hollyhocks of all colours happy.
Remember that Hollyhocks are biennial; they take two years to grow from seed to flower, after which they are spent. Hollyhocks do self-seed readily, so once established, you can expect to see seedlings emerge in spring. In time you should have a continuous display. Said to be a deer resistant plant.
Shade-loving Astilbe is also called False Spirea. Cultivars range from white through pale and deep pink, but this red variety is classic.
It does add punch to this planting, doesn't it? Who says red and purple flowers can't grow together! Here, 'Red Sentinel' also erves as a bright foil for lime foliage.
Astilbe likes an organically rich, moist soil. It does best with regular watering; if you see the leaf tips browning, this is usually a sign that it is drying too much between waterings. Some sources suggest Astilbe as a plant choice for rain gardens.
'Power Surge' Chrysanthemum is a new offering from Jefferies Nurseries in Manitoba for the 2013 growing season.
Of the plants named here, Chrysanthemum is probably the most difficult to cultivate to full bloom. That's because it is "typically a short-day (SD) plant, and flower bud formation takes place when the photo period is shorter than 12 hours."
It's true that Chrysanthemum is not that hardy in the northern garden. Only consider if you have a sheltered corner of the garden where the micro climate will allow you to gain a little zone hardiness. I have brought mums through a winter to bloom for a second season, but no more than that.
Even so, wouldn't those red pom-poms be worth the effort?
author of the children's book,
Red is Best.
Need more information about plant hardiness zones?
What is your favorite red flowering plant? Do tell.