Learn the color wheel

What is Color Theory? Playing with Color in Faux Floral Design

Color theory is a staple concept in faux floral design. In short, it makes the difference between an amateur creation and a total work of art.

If you’re looking to sell faux floral designs, you must understand color theory in order to create cohesive designs – one’s that will catch your customer’s eye and make them fall in love with your craft.

Color theory is a powerful tool, combining disparate florals and greenery and combining them in a symbiotic design.

Color itself can take your customer on a visual journey, helping their eyes move throughout the design in a pleasing harmony.

In this post, I’m sharing how to use the basics of color theory to your advantage with faux floral design. I’ve included all the fundamentals you’ll need to grasp color theory along with design tips and example combinations.

With this knowledge, you can let your creativity shine through perfectly matched faux florals, greenery, berries, and more.

Alana from Greenery Market working on a laptop with a color wheel next to her.

What is Color Theory?

Color theory is a field of study that explores how colors interact with and affect one another.

This theory encompasses all of the principles and guidelines that help artists understand how to use colors effectively, surpassing singular mediums.

You’ll often see color theory used in artwork including floral design, painting, interior design, and textiles.

It’s also used in everyday settings like marketing, urban planning, education, and psychology.

In other words, color theory is all around us.

8 Elements of Color Theory – Why is Color Theory Important in Floral Design?

Color theory involves several key concepts including the color wheel, color harmony, color psychology, and color mixing.

Here is a look at these fundamental aspects and how they work with faux floral design:

The Color Wheel by Greenery Market

1. Color Wheel

The color wheel is a circular representation of color, typically including primary, secondary, and some tertiary colors; It’s the first step to creating any color combination.

The way that the colors are organized transforms the wheel into a tool for artists to use.

When looking at the wheel, you’ll notice that complementary colors are opposite from each other, analogous colors are next to each other, and triadic colors are equally spaced out on the wheel.

Having a color wheel handy when choosing materials for your floral designs can be helpful for visualizing how the colors will work in conjunction with one another.

2. Color Harmony

Color harmony is the practice of creating pleasing combinations of colors within a single composition.

There are four common harmony schemes that you’ll recognize from your color wheel:


Combining colors that are opposite on the color wheel will provide a bold look and exciting contrast. This is useful for focal flowers. For example, pairing yellow sunflowers with purple berries.


If you’re looking to create a soothing, harmonious effect, try an analogous combination. This means colors that are next to each other on the wheel like blue and green or orange and yellow.


For a balanced and bright design, choose colors that are evenly spaced out on the wheel like purple, green, and orange, or red, yellow, and blue.


Various shades of a singular color. An example would combine different shades of blue like pale blue hydrangeas, bright blue geranium, and blue-green eucalyptus.

color inspires emotions

3. Color Psychology

Color can evoke emotional and psychological responses to its mere appearance.

Warm colors you’d find in a sunset bring energy to a piece. Cool colors like blues, greens, and purple are calmer and promote serenity.

Different colors are also believed to have symbolic meanings and associations. For example, red can represent passion or danger, while blue may evoke feelings of calmness or sadness.

As a study, color psychology examines how colors influence human perception and behavior.

Think about the difference between creating a design for a funeral and one as a celebratory gift. The funeral arrangement will likely contain gentler tones than the bright and cheerful gift design.

Having a solid knowledge of color psychology will allow you to tailor your design based on the emotion you’re trying to convey.

4. Color Mixing

While color mixing isn’t used as much by floral designers, it’s still an important concept of color theory to understand.

Learning about color mixing will teach your eyes to see underlying pigments and color temperature.

Understanding how colors interact, or color mixing, is crucial in color theory – it involves combining different colors to create new hues, shades, and tints.

I recommend playing with food color and water to see how the colors change when you mix them. Explore how primary colors mix to create secondary colors, and how further mixing can produce an endless variety of exciting colors.

5. Color Temperature

Beyond the color wheel, you’ll want to consider color temperature when creating floral designs.

Color temperatures are described as either warm or cool. Colors look most harmonious when used with colors of the same temperature.

Warm faux florals are comforting and inviting, including multiple shades of red, yellow, orange, and pink.

Cool faux florals are fresh and serene, with blue, purple, and green colors.

You can also create faux floral designs with dramatic depth by combining both cool and warm color temperatures, balancing them evenly so that each element looks at home.

serving table with a floral centerpiece acting as a focal point

6. Focal Points

Focal points refer to places of emphasis within a design. In floral color theory, this means using high-contrast colors to create specific focal points.

For instance, placing a stunning orange flower against mixed greenery will naturally draw the eye to one place.

You can use high-contrast focal points throughout your arrangement, naturally drawing the viewer’s eye through the piece.

7. Context and Lighting

You may also consider how color works in different contexts and spaces. Consider how color interacts with lighting.

If you’re selling your designs at an outdoor craft fair, pale, pastel florals may be washed out by the natural lighting. In this case, bright, eye-catching colors are going to be preferred.

When displaying your arrangements through photographs, you have more control over lighting and can make the proper adjustments.

Some general lighting tips to keep in mind:

Natural light will enhance vibrancy and bring life to brightly-colored designs.
Yellow light will make warm-colored florals appear warmer and more inviting.
White light will highlight serene shades of blue and green.

Understand how color and lighting work with one another and use this knowledge to create designs that work in the majority of conditions.

8. Texture and Interaction

Texture can have a surprising effect on how colors appear and interact with one another.

Faux florals are made with various materials and finishes that can look different based on condition and chosen combinations.

For example, glossy finishes will reflect more light for a vibrant, shiny look. Matte finishes may look softer and more diffused.

Textures will also affect depth perception, creating shadows and varying points of contrast.

It’s important to consider how texture can transform color combinations; it can make design elements look harmonious and interesting, or scattered and out-of-place.

decorating beyond greenery and flowers

Color Theory Beyond Flowers and Greenery

Color theory in floral design goes beyond the beautiful florals and greenery – every element of the design comes into play!

Remember to note all materials, ensuring a cohesive harmony. Pay attention to:

  • Vase, pot, or other base.
  • Visible dessert moss, rocks, or other base addition.
  • Ribbons, bows, jute string, and accessories
  • Colors surrounding the arrangement, how it’s displayed on a craft posting, where it will live in a home, etc.

What Do Colors Represent in Floral Design?

Colors and symbolism have a long history in floral design. In fact, the study of floriography or “language of flowers” has been practiced for thousands of years across Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Some common color representations include:

  • Red – Passion, love, longing, desire, romance, lust
  • Orange – Energy, warmth, enthusiasm, admiration, excitement
  • Yellow – Friendship, joy, new beginnings, positivity
  • Green – Natural-world, renewal, growth, rebirth, health, harmony, balance
  • Blue – Calm, tranquil, serene, rarity
  • Purple – Elegance, adoration, spirituality, mystery, royalty, luxury
  • White – Purity, innocence, a fresh start
  • Black – Mystery, remembrance, saying goodbye
  • Pink – Affection, appreciation, playfulness, sweetness

FAQs: Color Theory and Faux Floral Design

These are the questions I get asked the most about color theory in floral design.

What is the difference between saturation, hue, and brightness?

All three terms refer to how color is perceived. Here are the basic differences between the three:

Hue – The hue is the pure, basic color without added black or white. Examples include red, yellow, and blue.

Saturation – Sometimes called chroma, saturation refers to how vivid a color appears. A high-saturated color is intense, pure, and vivid. A low-saturated color is muted and grayed.

Brightness – This is how light or dark a color is, with more white or black in the color. This is also called lightness or value.

How do I choose colors for my faux floral design?

I recommend starting with a design’s purpose before picking any colors.

Think about why you’re creating the design, where you’re going to display it, who it’s for, and what emotion you may want to convey with the piece.

Choose colors that suit this purpose, using color theory to match colors that will look harmonious together.

You can also take seasonal considerations, choosing florals that are in-season and which best convey the time of year. Some examples include pastels for spring, deep colors for winter, brights for summer, and leaf tones for autumn.

What color greenery should I use in my design?

Greenery colors depend on the level of contrast you’d like to achieve and the temperature of the piece.

You may love the look of frosty greenery mixed with soothing lilac, pastel blue, and creamy mint green.

For higher contrast, you could pair deep green leaves with bright yellows, vibrant oranges, and hot pinks.

In general, I recommend sticking to a similar color scheme of greenery and playing with different textures within this scheme. This will create both visual interest and harmony.

dual tone leaves

Final thoughts: What is Color Theory?

By learning and studying color theory, floral designers can elevate their creations and best communicate with their customers.

Understanding floral color theory allows you to make informed decisions about color palettes, create solid visual harmony, and evoke strong emotions in your work.

Not only does the study of color theory provide a framework for understanding and manipulating colors, but it also helps you make quick and confident decisions in your designs.

You’ll notice this change immediately when shopping at Greenery Market or any faux floral supply store.

I hope you’ve found my guide on floral color theory useful in taking your faux floral designs to the next level. Whether you’re looking to perfect your craft or you’re just getting started, color theory is a launching pad for success in your art form.

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