What to Plant With Hydrangeas?

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Hydrangeas are beloved for their large, showy blooms and versatility in the garden. Whether you’re looking to create a visually appealing landscape or optimize the health and growth of your plants, choosing the right companions for your hydrangeas is crucial. This article explores the best companion plants for hydrangeas, taking into consideration aesthetic appeal, environmental compatibility, and mutual benefits.


Understanding Hydrangeas

Before diving into companion planting, it’s important to understand the basic needs of hydrangeas:

  • Light: Most hydrangeas prefer partial shade, though some varieties can tolerate more sun with adequate moisture.
  • Soil: Hydrangeas thrive in well-draining, slightly acidic soil with plenty of organic matter.
  • Water: They need consistent moisture, especially during dry periods, to prevent wilting and promote lush growth.
  • Space: Adequate spacing is necessary to ensure good air circulation and prevent fungal diseases.


Benefits of Companion Planting

Companion planting with hydrangeas offers several benefits:

  1. Pest Control: Certain plants can repel pests that may harm hydrangeas.
  2. Disease Prevention: Improved air circulation and diverse plantings can reduce disease risk.
  3. Enhanced Beauty: Companion plants can complement the colors and textures of hydrangeas, creating a more attractive garden.
  4. Soil Health: Some plants can improve soil quality by adding nutrients or aiding in moisture retention.


Top Companion Plants for Hydrangeas

Here are some of the best plants to pair with hydrangeas, categorized by their primary benefits:

1. Ferns (Dryopteris, Athyrium, etc.)

Benefits: Ferns thrive in the same moist, shady conditions as hydrangeas and provide a lush, green backdrop that highlights the vibrant hydrangea blooms.

How to Plant: Ferns can be planted around the base of hydrangeas, ensuring they have enough space to spread. They help maintain soil moisture and add texture to the garden.

2. Hostas (Hosta spp.)

Benefits: Hostas offer bold foliage that contrasts beautifully with hydrangea flowers. They also thrive in similar conditions and can help cover the bare lower stems of hydrangeas.

How to Plant: Plant hostas in clusters around hydrangeas, especially in shaded areas. Their large leaves help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.

3. Azaleas and Rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.)

Benefits: These acid-loving shrubs bloom in the spring, providing early color before hydrangeas come into full bloom. They share similar soil and light requirements with hydrangeas.

How to Plant: Group azaleas and rhododendrons with hydrangeas to create a layered effect. Ensure they have enough space to avoid overcrowding.

4. Astilbes (Astilbe spp.)

Benefits: Astilbes produce feathery plumes of flowers in late spring to early summer, complementing the hydrangea’s blooms. They thrive in partial shade and moist soil.

How to Plant: Plant astilbes near hydrangeas to fill in gaps and provide continuous bloom interest. They work well in borders and woodland gardens.

5. Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra)

Benefits: This ornamental grass provides a striking contrast with its arching, golden foliage. It thrives in similar conditions and adds movement to the garden.

How to Plant: Use Japanese forest grass as a ground cover or edging plant around hydrangeas. It’s particularly effective in shaded areas.

6. Heucheras (Heuchera spp.)

Benefits: Also known as coral bells, heucheras offer colorful foliage that contrasts with hydrangea flowers. They are shade-tolerant and prefer well-draining soil.

How to Plant: Plant heucheras in front of or alongside hydrangeas to add vibrant foliage colors ranging from deep purples to bright greens.

7. Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.)

Benefits: Daylilies add a burst of color and can tolerate more sun, making them suitable for areas where hydrangeas receive dappled light. They help to extend the blooming season in the garden.

How to Plant: Plant daylilies in front of or interspersed with hydrangeas. Their strappy leaves and bright flowers create a striking contrast.

8. Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

Benefits: Bleeding hearts bloom in early spring, providing early interest before hydrangeas bloom. They thrive in partial shade and moist soil.

How to Plant: Plant bleeding hearts in clusters around hydrangeas. Their delicate, heart-shaped flowers add a romantic touch to the garden.

9. Boxwood (Buxus spp.)

Benefits: Boxwoods provide evergreen structure and formality to a garden. They can be used to create hedges or borders around hydrangea beds.

How to Plant: Use boxwoods to outline hydrangea plantings, providing year-round interest and a structured backdrop for the hydrangeas’ showy blooms.

10. Tiarella (Tiarella cordifolia)

Benefits: Also known as foamflower, tiarella produces delicate, frothy blooms and attractive foliage. It thrives in the same moist, shady conditions as hydrangeas.

How to Plant: Plant tiarella as a ground cover around hydrangeas. It’s particularly useful in woodland gardens and shaded borders.

Planting and Care Tips

  • Soil Preparation: Ensure the soil is well-draining and rich in organic matter. Add compost or peat moss to improve soil structure and acidity if needed.
  • Watering: Water deeply and regularly, especially during dry spells. Mulch around the base of the plants to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Fertilization: Use a balanced fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to lush foliage at the expense of flowers.
  • Pruning: Prune hydrangeas and their companion plants as needed to maintain shape and remove dead or diseased growth. Follow specific guidelines for each plant type.



Companion planting with hydrangeas can enhance the beauty, health, and productivity of your garden. By selecting plants with complementary growth habits, similar cultural requirements, and added benefits like pest control and soil improvement, you can create a harmonious and thriving garden ecosystem. Whether you choose foliage-rich ferns, colorful heucheras, or structured boxwoods, the right companions will help your hydrangeas shine and contribute to a stunning and healthy landscape.


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