15 Stunning Plants to Pair with Hydrangeas for a Gorgeous Garden

Last Updated on May 30, 2024 by Kimberly Crawford

Ever wondered how to make your hydrangeas stand out even more? Companion planting might be the answer you’re looking for. Hydrangeas are not just about their stunning blooms; they can thrive even better when paired with the right plants.

This strategy, known as companion planting, brings a host of benefits. It not only boosts the beauty of your garden but also helps in improving growth and keeping pests at bay.

So, let’s dig into the world of what to plant with hydrangeas to create a garden that’s both gorgeous and healthy.

best plants to grow with hydrangeas 1

Understanding Hydrangeas

Types of Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas come in various types, each with its unique charm. The mophead hydrangeas are known for their large, round flower heads that look like pom-poms.

Then there’s the lacecap hydrangeas with flatter blooms that have tiny flowers in the center and larger ones around the edges, giving them a lacy appearance.

The panicle hydrangeas stand out with their cone-shaped flowers that change color as they mature, providing a dynamic look throughout the growing season.

Growing Conditions

To get the best out of your hydrangeas, you need to pay attention to their growing conditions. They thrive in well-draining soil that’s rich in organic matter. These plants prefer partial shade but can handle some morning sun.

Watering is crucial; keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Hydrangeas can be quite forgiving, but they don’t like extreme conditions, so it’s best to keep them away from harsh afternoon sun and dry spots.

Bloom Times and Color Variations

One of the joys of growing hydrangeas is their stunning variety of bloom times and colors. Depending on the type, they can bloom from late spring to early autumn.

The color of their flowers can be influenced by the soil pH; acidic soils tend to produce blue flowers, while alkaline soils yield pink ones. Some varieties even offer multi-colored blooms, which can add a spectacular show to your garden as the seasons change.

Best Companion Plants for Hydrangeas

Shade-Loving Plants

1. Hostas

hydrangeas hostas

Hostas are a fantastic choice for planting with hydrangeas. Their broad, lush leaves provide a striking contrast to the delicate flowers of hydrangeas.

Hostas thrive in the same partial shade conditions that hydrangeas love, making them a perfect match.

2. Ferns

hydrangeas ferns

Ferns add a lovely, airy texture to your garden. These plants enjoy the same moist, well-drained soil as hydrangeas.

Their feathery fronds create a beautiful backdrop that highlights the vibrant blooms of hydrangeas.

3. Astilbes

hydrangeas Astilbes

Astilbes bring a burst of color with their plume-like flowers. They prefer the shady, moist conditions that hydrangeas also thrive in.

The combination of astilbes and hydrangeas can create a lush, colorful display in your garden.

Colorful Bloomers

4. Azaleas

Azaleas and Rhododendrons are excellent companions for hydrangeas.

These plants not only share similar soil and light preferences but also offer a variety of colors that can complement hydrangea blooms. Their vibrant flowers can add layers of color to your garden.

5. Daylilies

hydrangeas daylilies

Daylilies are tough, versatile plants that can thrive alongside hydrangeas. They bring bright, cheerful blooms that can fill the gaps between hydrangea flowering periods.

Their different blooming times ensure your garden stays colorful for longer.

6. Columbines

hydrangeas Columbines
Credit: Austin Ganim Landscape Design, LLC

Columbines add a touch of elegance with their unique, delicate flowers. They grow well in the same conditions as hydrangeas and can add a splash of color to the garden, especially in spring and early summer.

Ground Covers

7. Heucheras

hydrangeas Heucheras

Heucheras (Coral Bells) are a popular ground cover choice. Their colorful foliage can add interest even when hydrangeas are not in bloom. They grow well in partial shade and well-drained soil, making them a great companion for hydrangeas.

8. Creeping Jenny

hydrangeas Creeping Jenny

Creeping Jenny is a vigorous ground cover that can help keep weeds at bay. Its bright green or golden leaves create a stunning contrast with hydrangea flowers. This plant loves moist conditions, just like hydrangeas.

9. Lamium

hydrangeas Lamium

Lamium is another excellent ground cover that thrives in shady areas. Its silver-tinged leaves and small flowers can brighten up the space under hydrangeas, providing an attractive carpet of foliage.

Ornamental Grasses

10. Hakonechloa

hydrangeas Hakonechloa

Hakonechloa (Japanese Forest Grass) adds a graceful, flowing texture to the garden. Its arching, golden-green leaves can enhance the look of hydrangeas, especially in shaded spots.

11. Carex

hydrangeas Carex

Carex (Sedge) offers a variety of textures and colors. This grass can thrive in both wet and dry conditions, making it versatile for planting alongside hydrangeas. Its fine foliage can create a nice contrast with the bold hydrangea blooms.

12. Festuca

hydrangeas Festuca

Festuca (Fescue) is a low-maintenance grass that can add a soft, wispy texture to your garden. Its blue-green foliage can complement the colors of hydrangea flowers, creating a harmonious garden scene.

Fragrant Plants

13. Lavender

hydrangeas lavender

Lavender brings a delightful fragrance to your garden. While it prefers full sun, it can still thrive near hydrangeas if given enough light. The purple blooms of lavender can create a lovely contrast with the soft hues of hydrangea flowers.

14. Gardenias

Gardenias are known for their strong, sweet fragrance. They can be a perfect companion for hydrangeas, adding an extra sensory dimension to your garden. Gardenias enjoy similar soil and light conditions, making them easy to grow together.

15. Dianthus

hydrangeas Dianthus

Dianthus (Pinks) offer a spicy, clove-like scent. Their low-growing habit and colorful blooms can complement hydrangeas beautifully. Dianthus prefers well-drained soil and partial shade, making it a good match for hydrangeas.

Considerations for Companion Planting

Matching Soil pH Requirements

When planning companion planting, it’s crucial to match the soil pH requirements of your plants. Hydrangeas thrive in acidic to neutral soils, with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5.

Choosing companions like azaleas or rhododendrons that also prefer acidic soil will ensure all your plants grow healthy and vibrant. If your soil isn’t naturally acidic, you can amend it with peat moss or sulfur to maintain the right pH levels.

Sunlight and Water Compatibility

Ensuring that your companion plants have similar sunlight and water needs is key to a thriving garden. Hydrangeas prefer partial shade and consistent moisture.

Pairing them with plants like hostas and ferns, which also enjoy shaded conditions and regular watering, will make it easier to maintain a balanced garden.

Avoid plants that need full sun or very dry conditions, as they might struggle to coexist with hydrangeas.

Seasonal Interest and Bloom Times

To keep your garden looking lively throughout the year, consider the seasonal interest and bloom times of your plants. Hydrangeas typically bloom in late spring to early autumn.

Adding early bloomers like columbines or late bloomers like daylilies can extend the visual appeal of your garden. This way, you’ll always have something in bloom, ensuring a constant display of color and texture.

Growth Habits and Space Requirements

Understanding the growth habits and space requirements of your plants will help you avoid overcrowding. Hydrangeas can grow quite large, so they need space to spread out.

Planting low-growing ground covers like creeping Jenny or compact grasses like festuca around them can create a layered effect without competing for space. Always consider the mature size of each plant to maintain harmony in your garden.

Designing Your Garden with Hydrangeas and Companions

Tips for Arranging Plants for Maximum Impact

Arranging your plants for maximum impact can transform your garden into a stunning display. Start by considering the height and color of each plant.

Place taller plants like hydrangeas at the back or center of your garden beds, with shorter companions like hostas and ferns in front.

This creates a layered effect that adds depth and visual interest. Mix and match colors thoughtfully to enhance the overall beauty of your garden.

Creating Focal Points and Layers

Creating focal points in your garden draws the eye and makes your space more engaging. Use bold plants like hydrangeas as the main attractions.

Surround these with layers of companion plants that complement and highlight their beauty. For instance, combine azaleas and rhododendrons for a burst of color, or add ornamental grasses like hakonechloa for a soft, flowing texture.

This layered approach not only looks beautiful but also ensures that your garden has year-round interest.

Using Containers and Borders Effectively

Containers and borders can be powerful tools in your garden design. Containers allow you to move plants around easily, providing flexibility and adding height to your garden.

They are perfect for plants like lavender or gardenias, which can be placed strategically to enhance the fragrance and appearance of your space. Borders help define areas and create a sense of order.

Use low-growing ground covers like creeping Jenny along borders to create a lush, continuous edge that complements the taller plants in your garden beds.


Planting hydrangeas with the right companions can elevate your garden to new heights. By understanding the needs of your plants, such as matching soil pH, ensuring sunlight and water compatibility, considering seasonal interest, and accounting for growth habits, you can create a thriving, beautiful garden.

Thoughtful arrangement, creating focal points, and using containers and borders effectively will maximize the visual impact.

Embrace these strategies, and you’ll have a garden that’s not only gorgeous but also healthy and easy to maintain. Happy gardening!