Melinda's Garden How-To: Planting with Hydrangeas

Melinda's Garden How-To:Plant partners for hydrangeas

The best companion plants...

Hydrangeas are easy care shrubs, making them a popular mainstay of the landscape. They can stand alone as a specimen, grow en masse as a hedge and be mixed with other shrubs, perennials and annuals to create mixed borders. Here are a few tips for selecting the right plant partners for your favorite hydrangeas.

 

What You Need

    • Hydrangeas suited to the space and growing conditions
    • Annuals, perennials and shrubs that thrive in the same growing conditions
    • Select plants with various bloom times for season long color in the garden; flower and foliage colors that echo (repeat) or compliment the hydrangeas you are growing; or finely textured plants that contrast with bold leaves and flowers of hydrangeas. 

Know Your Hydrangeas

Smooth, Snowball (Annabelle type) Hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens)

  • Grows 3’ to 5’ tall and wider
  • Prefers partial shade, full sun if soil is kept moist
  • Moist, well-drained soil preferred
  • Blooms on new growth

Panicle Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)

  • Dwarf varieties 3’ to 6’ tall & wide, Large varieties up 10’+ tall & wide
  • Performs best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade
  • Moist, well-drained soil preferred
  • Blooms on new growth

Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)

  • Grows 3’ to 6’ tall & wide
  • Grows in full sun with moist soil, afternoon shade
  • Moist, well-drained soil preferred
  • Soil pH (acidity) influences flower color
    • Blue flowers in acidic soil
      • Add aluminum sulfate (per label directions spring through July)
    • Pink flowers in alkaline soil.
    • Tips for pruning Big Leaf hydrangeas in the spring at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vnkPETGB10 

Potential Partners for Shade 

Annuals: 

  • Sunpatiens or New Guinea Impatiens (downy mildew resistant)
  • Begonias
  • Browallia

Perennials:

  • Hostas
  • Lady’s Mantle
  • Astilbe
  • Jacob’s Ladder
  • Coral bells
  • Foam flower (Tiarella)
  • Masterwort (Astrantia)
  • Lungwort
  • Turtlehead (Chelone)
  • Bugbane (Actaea formerly Cimicifuga)
  • Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonachloa)
  • Sedges
  • Ferns

Shrubs:

  • Cool Splash Diervilla
  • Azaleas
  • Boxwood
  • Dwarf Hemlock 

Potential Partners for Sun

Annuals:

  • Petunia
  • Verbenas
  • Annual Vinca
  • Sedums
  • Zinnia
  • Cosmos
  • Tall Ageratum

Perennials:

  • Coral Bells
  • Allium
  • Perennial Geranium
  • Lamb’s Ear
  • Catmint (Nepeta)
  • Agastache
  • Shasta Daisies
  • Phlox
  • Willow Amsonia
  • Coneflower
  • Liatris
  • Hardy Hibiscus
  • Ornamental Grasses
  • Clematis

Shrubs:

  • Butterfly Bush
  • Roses
  • Weigela
  • Purple Leafed Ninebark
  • Dwarf Blue Spruce
  • Dwarf Pines

 

Written by, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience.  She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Gardening How-To with you!