The list of reasons to love coral bells is many, an attractive foliage that’s easy to grow, long-lasting, and versatile nature being one of them. One of the best ways to enhance the depth and color of a coral reef garden is to pair them with complementary companion plants.
Fortunately, several companion plants for coral bells exist, from Hostas to Japanese forest grass. Some other similar shade-loving perennials include a variety of ferns, astilbes, lungworts, etc.
However, there are also some plants you should strictly avoid planting next to your beloved coral bells if you want them to be nice and healthy. So keep reading to know more!
Why Do You Need Coral Bells Companion Plants?
Companion plants add variety to your garden and help your main crop grow better. For example, coral bells have very specific sun and soil preferences, and your location might not regulate that properly throughout the year.
In such cases, companion plants can provide shade, attract beneficial insects, repel harmful insects, improve soil quality, and do much more than add aesthetic value. They help your coral bells grow healthier and bring color, vibrance, and variety.
Best Plants to Grow With Coral Bells
Choosing the right plants to grow alongside your coral bells can add texture, depth, and interest to your garden, creating a stunning display. From ferns to hostas to foam flowers, the list has it all. So let’s dig in!
1. Japanese Painted Ferns
This native eastern Asian fern has similar growing conditions to your coral bells, making them super easy to maintain together. Like coral bells, they flourish in shaded setups and soil with excellent drainage.
Their feathery foliage with distinct textures will beautifully complement coral bells’ colorful pink, white, and red flowers. Japanese-painted ferns come in various shades, from steel grey and frosty white to deep burgundy.
The ferns are hardy in zones 4 through 9, so they thrive best in cold weather and can easily withstand even the harshest winters. So the best time to plant a nursery-grown Japanese-painted fern is the spring or fall.
The preferred soil pH for this plant is between 5.5 to 7.0. Hence, adding compost to the soil before planting them will help it thrive.
2. Hosta ‘Sum And Substance’
Hosta will be a good pick if you want a contrasting plant that enhances your coral bells’ vibrant color and texture while requiring low maintenance, sum, and substance.
They prefer moderate sunlight, like coral bells, and grow better in moist and nicely drained soil. On that note, some varieties of hostas can withstand strong sunlight, but Hosta Sum and Substance need partial to full shade.
If you care for them and give them enough root space, they can often reach up to five feet wide and 3 feet tall. Harsh liquid fertilizers are a big no-no for this plant. So instead, go for a slow-release fertilizer at half strength.
3. Astilbe ‘Fanal’
This one will look perfect if you have the green spice coral bells!
Astilbe Fanal’s feathery foliage and vibrant colors greatly complement the simple look of green spice or any other subtle varieties of coral bells.
Like coral bells, Astilbe Fanals cannot survive in arid and hot conditions. Therefore, you must keep their water adequate, not too little or too much.
You can skip shades if you live in a light, sunny area. And if you live in a cold climate, lay down at least 2 inches of mulch around the stem before the first frost.
Plant them early or in late spring or fall to enjoy the striking flowers during the early summer or early spring, respectively. Avoid planting them during the hottest part of the season.
4. Dicentra Spectabilis
Widely known as the bleeding heart, Dicentra spectabilis are easy perennials. The small heart-shaped dangling flowers will look strikingly good with your coral bells’ large and voluminous leaves.
They are members of the poppy family and bloom over a long season, stretching from late spring to early fall. So you will be enjoying the flowers almost throughout the year.
However, since they thrive better in cooler climates, you must keep them in the shade in a cold and moist environment. Or else the blooming might stop in the peak summer.
Don’t worry about them in the winter because most varieties of bleeding hearts can easily withstand the coldest climates.
5. Raspberry Splash
Raspberry splash, aka lungwort, is yet another low-maintenance perennial, perfect for your woodland or shade garden. They are evergreen and come in a variety of more than 17 species.
The mottled or spotted leaves are supposed to resemble a diseased lung, which gave it its name, “Lungworts.” But no matter their weird name, they look pretty, especially due to the vibrant raspberry flowers!
The best part? They don’t easily catch serious insects or diseases. Only slugs and snails might visit them occasionally.
However, due to the scorching sun, there can be an issue of powdery mildew and depreciating leaves. So to avoid that, keeping them in shaded areas is the best solution.
6. Spring Symphony
With deep-lobed leaves and contrasting tiny star-shaped white flowers, spring symphonies look stunning as ground cover and edging paths.
They are fast-growing and very hardy and flower from May to July. You can safely pair them with hostas.
7. Jacob Cline
Famous for its enormous flowers and high resistance to diseases, Jacob cline, aka Bee balm, is one of the best companion plants you can pair with coral bells.
These perennials grow in the same soil and climate conditions as coral bells so you won’t need extra effort. However, note that they could be better at enduring cold weather.
8. Winter Jewels
As the name suggests, Winter Jewels bear stunning blooms right around Christmas. The color of the flowers can be white, pink, purple, or yellow, depending on the species you choose.
They are easy to grow and require no maintenance besides occasional trimming. But DO NOT plant them if you have a pet dog or cat, as they are considered toxic for them!
Suppose you only want leaves and no blossoms for your shaded garden. In that case, variegatums can be a good companion for your coral bells.
Commonly known as croton plants, these shrubs can grow up to 8 feet tall when they mature. If you have obsidian coral bells, then the rich autumn colors of this houseplant will add a nice pop to your garden.
10. Jack Frost
If you want an all-leaves winter wonderland theme for your shaded garden, pair jack frosts with frosted berry coral bells.
Apart from their similar habitat and soil requirements, both have the same silver foliage, giving a classy monochromatic look.
But if you want to contrast, you can pair them with vibrant heucheras, which will look equally good.
Toad lilies are a great way to add elevation, flowers, and an exotic look to your garden.
They are already unique enough, with their alien-looking spotted flowers and two-toned leaves. Planting them together will turn your guests’ heads.
12. Caesar’s Brother
Popularly known as Siberian iris, this perennial retains its beautiful foliage throughout the year. But it becomes even more dramatic during late springs and early summers when you can see the deep, velvety violet flowers.
Soil acidity for both coral bells and Siberian iris is 5.2 -6.4. If you don’t have much space under the shade, you can place them outside since they prefer full sun and require partial shade only in the warmer seasons.
Plants You Should Never Grow With Coral Bells
In this article section, I have listed some plants you should never grow with Coral Bells. The reason ranges from different weather requirements to high nutrient needs for the companion plants. Read on to know more.
Sunflowers thrive in hot, dry environments and need full sun, which is exactly opposite to the needs of Huecheras.
So you can never plant them next to each other.
These marsh plants may be native to cold regions, but their soil requirements differ from coral bells.
While coral bells cannot do well without well-drained soil, cattails thrive in brackish waters, meaning the ground has to be saturated with water.
3. English ivy
These woody vines can quickly outgrow your beloved coral beds and occupy all the space. While doing that, it will also be soaking in all the nutrients, which makes it an overall lousy companion plant.
Tomatoes also have high nutrient needs. So planting them adjacent will result in a fight between the two, and ultimately only one can survive.
5. Birch Trees
Birch or any similar tree with an aggressive root system is not an ideal companion plant for coral bells.
Birch trees need much water and nutrients to grow, especially in their earliest stage. They will most definitely outcompete your comparatively delicate coral bells.
Ready to Grow Your Enchanting Coral Bells Garden?
I hope you have found many options for choosing companion plants for coral bells. The ones listed here have the same soil and weather needs as coral bells, making your maintenance job easy.
However, there are other factors you should consider. Avoid picking plants with high nutritional needs or a rapid growth rate. Coral bells have a delicate root system; hence, such plants can be invasive, hindering growth.