Hydrangeas are stunning plants with many different varieties in color, leaf, and growth conditions. They grow everywhere and pretty easily.
But sometimes, you will notice your plant not blooming enough or the leaves turning yellow on the edges. In addition to adding color and aesthetics, companion plants can greatly facilitate the growth and yield of hydrangeas.
Pairing plants with hydrangeas can be fun as they are quite easy to deal with. Fortunately, they go with many plants that can provide shade and enhance the nutritional availability of the hydrangeas.
Today we will talk about the best and worst companion plants for hydrangeas and how they can impact the growth of your main plant. So let’s get started!
Hydrangea Woes Common Problems And Their Root Causes
You may notice that your lovely hydrangeas are not doing well despite you taking good care of them. Identifying the problem and the cause will help you make a wiser decision regarding the hydrangea companion plants. Here are some common issues hydrangea growers face, with the root cause.
- Very few or no blooms can happen due to improper pruning or too much nitrogen fertilizer.
- Orange spots on leaves: These spots will indicate hydrangea rust, which is a fungal disease. Remove the infected leaves and avoid watering them from overhead to stop them from spreading further.
- Brown-edged leaves indicate fertilizer burn and are the plant’s way of showing that the roots are getting damaged.
- Flowers may turn brown as the summer approaches, which signifies that the plant needs more water.
- Holes in leaves can occur due to insects feasting on your dear plant. Look for hydrangea’s common enemies, like Japanese beetles and caterpillars.
- Sudden change in flower color: Hydrangeas are macrophytes, meaning they react to the pH of your soil. So if you notice a sudden change in the flower’s color, there has to be some fluctuation happening in your soil’s acidity and alkalinity.
- White fluff on the stems: Those are called hydrangea scale, caused by an insect that feeds on the underside of the hydrangea leaves.
- Very small flowers: If the flowers are smaller than regular, the plant is not getting enough sunlight, phosphorus (which can be added through fertilizer), and water.
- Thin and weak stems: Overusing fertilizer or fertilizing during the wrong time can cause thin and weak stems.
Best Hydrangea Companion Plants For Healthy Hydrangeas
Hydrangea shrubs thrive best in full to partial sunshine (requires partial shade during hot summers) and organic matter-rich, well-drained soil that receives plenty of moisture.
Some plants grow best in similar setups, like hydrangeas, and act as great companion plants. Some can even provide shade and other benefits, like attracting pollinators and repelling pests and predators.
Want a companion plant with a similar color palate yet a very different appearance? Azaleas will do the job.
These Rhododendrons have the same soil, water, and sunlight requirements as hydrangeas, reducing your workload considerably. Their vibrant flowers attract beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies.
They also bloom in the spring, so even if your hydrangeas take time, they’ll compensate for it. So you can expect a garden that blooms year-long.
Pick veronicas if you are looking for a hydrangea companion plant that requires little to no care and attention and is a best friend for carefree gardeners.
They are super hardy ornamental plants that tolerate various soil and water conditions.
They are low-growers and work great as ground cover-ups, so place them near the base of the hydrangeas and enjoy the beautiful purple spiked flowers. They tend to bloom in spring and produce flowers during the summer, close to hydrangeas.
The best part is that they are deer-resistant. So if you fail to save your hydrangeas from herbivorous predators, veronicas can be a savior.
Campanula, aka bellflowers, are perennials that thrive in full sun. Their water drainage, soil, and pH requirements (slightly acidic) are the same as hydrangeas, making them an effortless pair.
Their color palate is also similar to hydrangeas, with different shades of pink, purple, and white. Their blooming starts around mid-summer and ends around early autumn. Hence, when your hydrangeas are hibernating, they can make up for it.
Daylilies are classic if you want something bright and contrasting with your hydrangeas’ soft and pastel colors.
Daylilies are these exotic-looking perennials that look delicate and complement the softness of hydrangeas. However, they are easy to grow and thrive in most soil types.
These fuss-free plants need four to six hours of daylight and do better in full sun. Hence, you can plant them with or without part shade, depending on your location.
The star-shaped white gardenias will complement your hydrangeas without diverting attention from them. It will add depth and texture to your garden. The leaves of the gardenia tree are more vibrant and glossier than hydrangeas.
Gardenias thrive in a warmer climate, so when your hydrangeas stop blooming in mid-summer, you can enjoy these fragrant cloud-like flowers.
Bees and butterflies enjoy the flowers’ sweet smell, making them good pollen attractors.
Apart from that, their soil and water needs are similar to hydrangeas. They also bloom best in moist and acidic soil.
Hydrangeas stop blooming during the winter, so you can pair them with camellias to make up for it. They will keep adding a pop of color to your garden while your hydrangeas prepare for the next season.
The ruby-pink blossoms will add a soft romantic touch to the garden. The plant thrives in full to part shade. So you can place them under big hydrangea plants.
Astilbe, aka false goat’s beard, is a great companion plant for hydrangeas. The fluffy and feathery flowers love the part shade and thrive in acidic soil.
Their minimal appearance will never outshine hydrangeas but will complement their dreamy look. Astilbe’s lush foliage gives it great ornamental value even after the blooming season.
If you want to add versatility through foliage and keep your hydrangea flowers as the centerpiece, pair them with ferns.
Ferns also attract beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings, which feed on common garden pests like aphids, keeping your hydrangeas safe. Ferns can be a savior if you face issues with hydrangea pests and leaf-eating insects.
Like hydrangeas, ferns grow in full sun to part shade, and their lush green leaves are bound to add character to your garden.
Hostas are known for their hassle-free and friendly companionships. On top of that, their preferences perfectly match hydrangeas’.
Try variegated hostas if you want more than monotoned foliage like ferns.
The foliage can vary from silvery blue to off-white, depending on the variety you pick. Remember, the lighter the foliage shade, the more sunlight it can tolerate.
10. Japanese Forest Grass
Lastly, you can try the classic hydrangeas and Japanese forest grass combo. They are made for each other since they are the only ornamental grass that loves shade.
Based on your preference, you can go for the variegated or non-variegated variety of grass. The flowers are minimal, but when they bloom in the late summer, they will add a pleasant touch to your garden.
11. Japanese Maple
If you are looking for a companion plant that can provide shade to your hydrangeas with style, there is nothing better than the Japanese maple tree.
Their crimson-red, feathery leaves make them look like a tree straight out of some fairyland. Their color gives a great contrast to the bright green hydrangea leaves yet matches well with the color of hydrangea flowers.
They can be a great centerpiece around which you can place your hydrangeas.
Plants To Avoid Pairing With Hydrangeas
As mentioned before, hydrangeas require very specific soil and water conditions, and even the slightest change can affect the overall growth of the plant. So here are some types of plants you should avoid planting next to hydrangeas as they may alter the soil and water drainage.
1. Drought-Tolerant Plants
The soil’s moisture content is one of the biggest requirements for growing lush and healthy hydrangeas.
Drought-tolerant plants have deep root systems. They soak up maximum amounts of water and store it for the future.
Planting a drought-tolerant plant next to them will significantly lower the moisture content and cause dehydration in your hydrangeas.
Even though oakleaf hydrangeas are a type of hydrangea, they are the most drought-tolerant hydrangeas, so you should refrain from planting them alongside the more common hydrangea varieties.
2. Plants With Invasive Roots
Plants with invasive root systems are not great companion plants for most surrounding plants. They not only suck up necessary nutrients and water, depriving the neighboring plants, but their strong and invasive roots can also damage the root system of hydrangeas.
3. Plants Needing Heavy Fertilization
Using too much fertilizer on hydrangeas can have adverse reactions. The leaves and flowers can start turning brown, and the plant can stop blooming altogether. Hence, pairing them with plants that need heavy fertilization is not a great idea.
4. Plants Needing Full Sun Or Full Shade
Too much sun or cold can hinder the growth of hydrangeas. They do well in full sun during spring and require part shade as the summer strengthens. Therefore, they cannot be compatible with plants needing full sun or being kept in full shade.
Hydrangeas are an overall hassle-free plant if you can match their basic requirements. Just keep their soil moist and acidic and provide them part shade during peak summers.
They don’t need much pruning or fertilization, either. Too much fertilization can cause trouble! The best hydrangea companion plants are those that have similar climate and soil requirements to them.
Fortunately, the list is long, and some of them can give your garden year-long blooming.