• Complementary color schemes use colors that are opposites or near opposites on the color wheel. The colors do not share a common primary color relationship. Examples include red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and violet.
• Triadic color schemes use three colors that are spaced equidistantly on the color wheel. It may be necessary to use some variations of tints, tones, or shades to find the right color combination.
• Polychromatic color schemes use all of the hues together. The brilliance can often be too intense so the floral designer may prefer a modified polychromatic scheme that tones it down.
These are not the only possible or desirable groupings of colors. As stated at the outset, most people have an intuitive ability to combine colors attractively. The selection of colors for a floral arrangement should be based on logic and on that natural intuition.
In the use of color, professional florists are often restricted to the colors of the flowers currently in the cooler. They are also restricted by an inability to dictate the setting or background that will display the arrangement to best advantage. A polychromatic arrangement for a church may be set on a white linen communion table or against a stained glass window. One setting could enhance the flowers and the other absorb them completely. A white corsage worn on a white dress will not have the visual impact that it will have if worn against a darker color or pattern.
Within any given arrangement, darker shades and tones are best used in lesser quantities than lighter tones and tints. The dark shades and tones are most effectively used at the focal center of the arrangement, with lighter color used for line and filler flowers.