Coral Arguments

Amanda Thomsen
Up until just a few years ago, if you would have asked me what color I liked least, it would have been coral.

AKA Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral (Color of the Year 2019).

Growing up, coral was known as a color for retired, golfing grandmas to wear to best show off their tans. Fast forward a few years and I would be honored to hang out with those fit, tan grandmas if they’d have me. It would seem that I didn’t give coral enough credit back then. Let’s fix that.

Let’s talk about how fun coral is!

• Are you sure you know what coral looks like? Coral Pink is something different. It’s not peach or salmon, either. It’s a rich, red-ish orange.

• The color is named after a living sea organism, of course, which begs you to go full-on under the sea! Invite sea shell planters, fish decor, glass buoys, sea turtles, jellyfish (think those glass air plant holders) and salespeople dressed as mermaids (complete with dingelhoppers!) to your displays and end caps.

• Coral mixes flawlessly with both dark foliage and lime foliage, so why not both on your endcaps? Use coral flowers with a whole lot of Princess Caroline Pennisetum, Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Jet Black Sweet Potato Vine, Black Dragon Coleus, Iresine herbstii Purple Lady, Black Pearl Heuchera or Alternanthera Black Knight. Or alternately with Duranta erecta Gold Edge, SolarTower Lime Ipomoea, Coleus Lavish Lime, Acorus Ogon or Lysimachia aurea.

• Coral also looks great paired with baby blue (it’s the complimentary hue on the color wheel) and silver. Pair it with Festuca glauca Elijah Blue, Hot Water Blue Lobelia, Cardoon, Black and Blue Salvia, Browallia americana, Senecio cineraria, Evolvulus glomeratus Blue Eyes and Dichondra argentea.

• Things that are coral: sunsets, some flamingos, lipstick, rum-filled tiki drinks, actual coral.

• Flowers that are coral: Coral Charm Peony, Coral Reef Gerbera Daisies, some varieties of Kangaroo Paw, Giant Coral Zinnia, SunPatiens Compact Hot Coral New Guinea Impatiens, Chelsey Coral Chrysanthemum, Tulip Perestroyka, Tempest Dahlias, Gartenmeister Fuchsia, Coral Honeysuckle, Aloe striata, Kniphofia hirsuta Fire Dance, Oso Easy Mango Salsa Roses, Begonia Coral Chimes, Coral Nymph Salvia and Aztec Coral Verbena.

• Coral spray paint can go a long way in refreshing display pieces. From tomato cages to poured stone ornaments to containers, it’s a cheap and easy way to make the statement. You may ask WHY we might choose to worship a different color every year? It’s so we don’t get stuck … or even more stuck, as the case may be.

• If possible, display coral deck umbrellas, UV-resistant print pillows in shades of coral, as well as welcome mats and maybe even placemats.

• Coral says: “Go ahead! Define me! What you say about ME says more about YOU than it does about ME!” It’s more than just pale orange, creamsicle or “not pink.” It really has its own vibe and it ISN’T old lady.

Coral is so cool now that my hair is dyed coral pink and it has been for a few years. Well, either it’s cool or I’ve become that old lady and I’m trying to show off my tan. GP

Amanda Thomsen is a funky, punky garden writer and author. Her blog is planted at and you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter AND Instagram @KissMyAster. Her new book, available April 2, is “Backyard Adventure: Get Messy, Get Wet, Build Cool Things, and Have Tons of Wild Fun!”