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Using Colour in Design: Orange


Orange, love it or loathe it, it can’t be ignored. The colour most associated with the unconventional, the eccentric, but also with amusement, warmth, fire, energy and activity. It is the national colour of the Netherlands and an important symbolic colour in Buddhism and Hinduism.


History of Orange

The first reference to orange in England occurs in the 15th century, when the fruit, known as ‘naranja’ was introduced to England from Spain, so yes, the colour is named after the fruit. Before that it was known by the old English word ‘geoluhread’ meaning yellow-red.




‘There is no blue without yellow and without orange’ Vincent van Gogh.

The Colour Wheel

  • Orange is a secondary colour, found between red and yellow on the colour wheel.

  • Red + Yellow = Orange

  • Mix orange with yellow or red to create the tertiary colours yellow-orange (saffron) or red-orange (tangerine).

  • Its complementary colour (the one that sits opposite it on the wheel) is blue.


Orange in Floristry

Because of its intensity, orange can be a difficult colour to use in designs, the key is getting the balance right. It is an advancing colour which means it will stand out against others and naturally draw the eye. Balance out full hue orange with its complementary colour blue for a strong, powerful look or create a classic citrus mix with lime and yellow.


What Works with Orange?

Tropical flowers immediately come to mind for summer designs using strelitzia and heliconia whose strong outlines mirror the strength of the colour. In winter, use darker, reddish tones of orange for warmth and comfort, in spring add salmon to pale pink and baby blue for a fresh, light look.


Orange Flowers

Line: Antirrhinum, Crocosmia, Eremurus, Freesia, Gladioli, Heliconia, Kniphofia, Physalis, Strelitzia.


Round: Achillea, Banksia, Calendula, Carthamus, Celosia, Chrysanthemum, Dahlia, Gerbera, Helianthus, Leucospermum, Lily, Ranunculus, Rose, Rudbeckia


Transitional: Alstroemeria, Asclepias, Dianthus, Gloriosa, Kalanchoe, Sandersonia.


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