Beautiful Hydrangea Companion Plants

My Garden Life
August 24, 2022
Table of Contents
Hydrangeas are stunning when they’re in full flower, but their form and leaves could be described as “plain” up until that point. There are many hydrangea companion plants that can take on a supporting role before hydrangeas come into bloom. These flowering hydrangea companions enjoy the same growing conditions. Also, many will bloom all season long, setting the stage for a spectacular display once the hydrangea flowers appear.

What Plants Make Good Companions for Hydrangea Shrubs?

Beautiful white flower clusters of Annabelle hydrangea shrub growing next to green and white variegated hosta
Hydrangeas generally need rich, well-draining, moist soil, along with some shade. Hydrangea companion plants should share similar growing needs. Pick and choose contrasting colors, heights and shapes to form attractive pairings.
The best hydrangea companions are:
  • Small or short.
  • Shade-tolerant.
  • Produce flowers in colors that complement your hydrangea.
  • Have foliage textures that offer contrast and interest.
  • Not aggressive spreaders.

Here are Twelve Terrific Options for Hydrangea Companion Plants

Annuals to Grow with Hydrangea

Annuals are plants that complete a seed-to-flower-to-seed life cycle in one growing season. Annual plants can succeed next to hydrangeas, if shade-tolerant varieties are chosen.

Impatiens

pink, lavender, and red impatiens flowering in the shade of an evergreen shrub
Among the most classic garden flowers, impatiens are shade-tolerant and usually don’t grow taller than 18 inches (45 cm). Impatiens come in nearly any color you can think of, so you can choose a variety that pairs perfectly with your hydrangeas.

Begonias

Beautiful contrast of pink wax begonias next to a blue bigleaf hydrangea in full bloom
There are over 1,000 species of begonia. Like impatiens, they stay close to the ground and don’t mind a fair amount of shade. Looking for a great color combo? Try white hydrangeas with scarlet begonias.

Geraniums

a lush pelargonium geranium plant covered with vibrant red flower clusters
Like hydrangeas, geraniums have long blooming seasons, from late spring into fall. With bright, gorgeous flowers, geraniums are known as low-hassle, high-reward annuals. Geraniums prefer a bit of direct sun to flower at their best, so choose these only if your hydrangeas are in a sunnier position.

Snapdragons

a dense grouping of brilliant pink and orange snapdragons in full bloom in a border flower garden
Snapdragons are beautiful and interesting flowers. They come in lots of heights and colors, so you can pick out a variety that best pairs with your hydrangeas. Use snapdragons to create variety in height when combined with other low-growing plants.

Perennials to Grow with Hydrangea

Perennials are plants with life spans longer than two years, that return each year with fresh blooms. Lots of perennials are small, shade-tolerant and produce beautiful flowers – all excellent traits for coexisting with hydrangeas.

Hostas

gorgeous pink hydrangea shrubs in full flower along a house foundation with a row of different potted hosta plants in the foreground
Hostas are one of the most popular companion choices for hydrangeas. Many hostas grow low to the ground, where they can appreciate the shade cast by hydrangea neighbors. Hostas are available in a wide range of colors, with many variegated varieties available. They provide color and texture when hydrangea isn’t in flower.

Foxglove

spikes of white and lavender digitalis flowers in a garden
Foxgloves enjoy the same growing conditions as hydrangeas. Foxglove stalks can reach several feet in height–a bit higher than most options on this list. Use foxglove to create a more consistent eye-level display alongside hydrangeas. Use them as a backdrop to lower-growing hydrangea companion plants.

Coral Bells

a dense planting of variegated coral bell plants with airy spikes of red flowers held above the foliage
The broad leaves of coral bells look something like a cross between lettuce and maple leaves. They’re native to North America and fit nicely in woodland settings. Low-growing and dense, coral bells can fill in the space between your hydrangeas and the edges of a landscaping bed. Better yet, hybrid varieties of coral bells are available in a range of foliage colors that are just as showy as flowering plants.

Lamium, Spotted Dead-nettle

close up of spotted dead-nettle (Lamium) with silver and green foliage and small lavender-purple flowers
Lamium is a low-growing, perennial ground cover that’s great for creating a “finished” look around your hydrangeas. The foliage is dense enough that it also serves as effective weed control. Lamium varieties are available in a range of color combinations; from silvery-green to gold. They’re a great way to add interest around hydrangeas when the shrubs aren’t yet in bloom. Small flowers appear in early summer to provide another layer of color.

Ornamental Grass

variegated ornamental grass planted in front of a row of blue bigleaf hydrangea in full flower
Ornamental grasses provide subtle and elegant companionship, leaving your hydrangeas as the center of attention. Ornamental grasses are a low-maintenance option for adding ground cover around your featured plants. Look for shorter varieties that won’t overwhelm your hydrangea bush.

Shrubs to Grow with Hydrangea

Smaller plants are generally preferable to shrubs for pairing with hydrangea. However, there are all sorts of shrubs that grow well under the same conditions as hydrangeas. A thoughtfully selected shrub combination can create a striking display for larger borders or foundation plantings.

Azaleas

spring shrub border made up of deep pink azalea and white rhododendron shrubs in full flower
Like hydrangeas, azaleas prefer partial sun. Azalea flowers are bright and lovely. You can pick a white, pink or purple variety that complements your hydrangea flower color. Azaleas bloom in the spring, making them a good choice for adding color in the period before hydrangeas start to bloom.

Boxwood

home foundation planting featuring a tidy row of globe boxwood shrubs in front of white-flowered Annabelle hydrangea shrubs in full bloom
Boxwoods’ dense, compact growth pattern is a nice contrast with hydrangeas’ soft, looser profile. These humble green shrubs tolerate trimming and pruning, making it easy to keep them sized and shaped to suit your preference, or accommodate the available space.

Gardenia

gardenia shrub covered with white gardenia flowers
Gardenia shrubs are every bit as decorative as hydrangeas. Their fragrant white flowers appear over a long season from spring through fall. Gardenia blooms are subtle enough that they don’t compete with hydrangea flowers for attention. Their luxurious scent adds fragrance to the landscape.

Learn More About Hydrangeas

gorgeous urban garden in front of a brick building featuring white hydrangeas, ornamental grasses, and colorful perennial flowers
Hydrangeas are wonderful centerpieces of any landscape planting. New varieties appear every year to keep flowering shrub enthusiasts satisfied. If you’re new to hydrangea cultivation, check out this introductory guide to hydrangeas and see if they have a place in your garden.

4 Comments

  1. Carmen Contreraz

    I was given so much Information. I actually had hired master gardener redesign my front yard with my existing plant from my back garden. She used only 2 of your suggestions Tomorrow is Flower Day at Eastern Market in Detroit MI. Thank you for the wonderful ideas. I hope to finally complete my front yard.

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Hi Carmen,
      Happy to hear that you found some ideas here. It should be wonderful to have your landscaping finally completed so that you can just relax and enjoy!

      Reply
  2. Terri Rule

    Thank you!! I’m having trouble with encore Adela’s not making it through winter. They end up half frozen out live in southeast TN zone 7. I have them planted on the Southwest side of home in semi shade area. Next to woods.

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Hi Terri,
      It sounds like you probably need to protect your shrubs for the winter. The breeders of the Encore azalea have a dedicated website that has lots of tips on the planting and care of these azaleas. If you don’t see an answer to your question in the “Frequently Asked Questions” you can also contact them with specific questions. Click HERE to visit the Encore Azaleas website.

      Reply

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