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12 Companion Plants For Hydrangea & What You Shouldn’t Plant With Them

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Hydrangeas, with their lavish blooms and varied hues, are a cornerstone of ornamental gardens. Their broad, vibrant flower heads make a visual impact that few other plants can match.

However, to truly maximize their potential and ensure they thrive, it’s crucial to consider companion planting.

This practice involves strategically pairing plants to enhance the garden’s aesthetic appeal, improve pollination, and even manage pests.

In this guide, we’ll explore the best companion plants for hydrangeas and discuss a few you should avoid to keep your garden healthy and beautiful.

Ideal Companion Plants for Hydrangeas

1. Hostas: Shade-Loving Foliage Complements

Hostas are the quintessential companion for hydrangeas, particularly in shaded garden spots where few plants can thrive. Their lush, leafy foliage offers a beautiful contrast to the rounded blooms of hydrangeas.

Hostas come in a variety of shades and sizes, allowing gardeners to play with different textures under and around hydrangea bushes.

For optimal growth, ensure that both plants receive adequate moisture and are planted in well-draining soil.

2. Ferns: Creating Textural Contrast

Ferns are another shade-tolerant option that pair beautifully with hydrangeas. Their delicate, finely divided leaves provide a textural contrast to the broad, robust leaves of hydrangeas.

Ferns like the lady fern or Japanese painted fern can also benefit from the same moist and shaded conditions that hydrangeas prefer.

This makes them not only a visually appealing companion but also a practical choice for similar gardening conditions.

3. Lavender: Adding Fragrance and Color Contrast

While hydrangeas thrive in moist soil, lavender can accommodate alongside them provided that drainage is well managed.

The key is to plant lavender on a slight mound near your hydrangeas, allowing for better drainage and root health.

Lavender offers a striking color contrast with its silvery foliage and purple spikes, and its delightful fragrance is an added bonus.

Additionally, lavender is known for its ability to repel deer and other pests, offering natural protection for your garden.

4. Azaleas and Rhododendrons: Acidic Soil Mates

Both azaleas and rhododendrons are excellent companions for hydrangeas as they share similar soil pH needs.

These plants thrive in slightly acidic soil, which means they can be grown together without altering soil chemistry for each plant’s preference.

The vibrant flowers of azaleas and the voluminous blooms of rhododendrons create a multi-dimensional display when planted alongside hydrangeas.

5. Daffodils: Early Bloomers to Prelude Hydrangea Blooms

Daffodils are perfect for planting around hydrangeas because they bloom early in the spring, providing color and interest before the hydrangea starts to flower.

By the time hydrangeas begin blooming, the daffodils will have faded, drawing the eye upwards towards the emerging hydrangea blossoms. This staggered blooming also helps keep the garden lively throughout the growing season.

6. Heucheras: Vibrant Foliage for Year-Round Interest

Heucheras, or coral bells, feature mounded foliage in a variety of colors from lime green to deep burgundy.

These plants are particularly effective at providing color and interest even when the hydrangeas are not in bloom.

Heucheras thrive in the same filtered shade that hydrangeas favor and their drought tolerance once established can complement the deeper watering needs of hydrangeas when spaced appropriately.

7. Japanese Maples: Dramatic Foliage and Form

Japanese maples can serve as a stunning backdrop or focal point near hydrangeas. Their intricate leaf patterns and striking fall colors enhance the visual appeal of any garden.

When planting, consider the mature size of both the maple and the hydrangea to avoid overcrowding and to ensure both can receive adequate sunlight and air circulation.

8. Boxwood: Structured Greenery to Frame Hydrangeas

Boxwood shrubs are excellent for adding structure and formal elements to a garden. Their dense, evergreen foliage provides a year-round contrast to the seasonal blooms of hydrangeas.

Planting boxwood around the perimeter of a hydrangea bed can also help to define spaces and create a tidy, organized appearance.

Be mindful of the boxwood’s growth rate and spacing requirements to ensure both plants have room to flourish without competition.

9. Clematis: Vertical Interest with Climbing Vines

Clematis is a versatile climbing vine that pairs wonderfully with hydrangeas, especially those trained as tree forms or grown along fences.

These vines add a vertical dimension to the garden, blossoming with flowers that can complement the color and texture of hydrangea blooms.

For best results, plant clematis nearby so it can use the hydrangea as a supporting structure, but ensure it doesn’t overshadow the main plant.

Clematis requires similar soil conditions as hydrangeas, and with careful pruning, both can thrive without competing for nutrients.

10. Bee Balm: Attracting Pollinators to Aid Bloom Health

Bee balm is not only vibrant and aromatic, but it also attracts pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds, which are beneficial for the entire garden.

Planting bee balm near hydrangeas can help increase pollination, which is essential for plant health and bloom vitality.

Bee balm thrives in conditions similar to hydrangeas, enjoying part shade and moist, well-drained soil, making it an excellent companion in terms of care and environmental needs.

11. Lilies: Bold Blooms for a Stunning Display

Lilies bring a bold splash of color and height to any garden setting, making them a striking companion for hydrangeas.

With their upright form, they can punctuate the softer, mounded form of hydrangeas, offering a textural contrast that is visually appealing.

When planting lilies, consider their bloom time to coordinate with hydrangeas for a continuous display of flowers throughout the season.

12. Annuals (Petunias, Marigolds, and Impatiens): Seasonal Color Splashes

Incorporating annuals like petunias, marigolds, and impatiens provides flexibility in color and fills any gaps in the garden.

These plants can add immediate color while perennials or shrubs are still growing and can be changed each year for a fresh look.

Plant these annuals along the edges of your hydrangea beds or in containers nearby to enhance the overall bloom impact throughout the garden.

What Not to Plant With Hydrangeas

While there are many excellent companions for hydrangeas, some plants can create more harm than good in your garden setting.

1. Black Walnut: Toxic Juglone Issues

Black walnut trees release a substance called juglone, which can be toxic to many plants, including hydrangeas. This chemical stunts the growth of susceptible plants that are grown too close to black walnut trees.

It is best to avoid planting hydrangeas within the root zone of these trees to prevent damage and ensure the health of your hydrangeas.

2. Sun-Loving Drought Tolerant Plants (e.g., Lavender, Rosemary)

Although lavender can be paired carefully with hydrangeas, generally, plants that require full sun and have low water needs, such as rosemary, are not ideal companions.

These plants thrive under conditions that differ significantly from those preferred by hydrangeas, which favor more moisture and less direct sun exposure.

3. Invasive Species That Overpower (e.g., Bamboo, Mint)

Avoid planting aggressive growers like bamboo or mint near hydrangeas. These plants can quickly spread and overpower other plants in your garden, competing aggressively for water, nutrients, and space. Their invasive nature can choke out hydrangeas and drastically reduce their vigor and bloom.

Choosing the right companion plants for hydrangeas can enhance the beauty and health of your garden.

By understanding which plants complement hydrangeas both aesthetically and ecologically, you can create a stunning garden display that lasts throughout the seasons.

Remember, the key to a successful companion planting strategy is to consider the needs and growth habits of each plant, ensuring they can coexist harmoniously.

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