Hosta, also called plantain lilies, are primarily grown for their exquisite foliage. Yellow or white margins outline their large, green leaves and leggy purple or white flowers protrude from the foliage during the summer.
Being both aesthetically pleasing and hardy, hostas are adored by gardeners.
These low-growing and wide plants look great on their own but also thrive amongst a number of companion species that will add texture, color, and variety to your beds and borders.
There are a huge number of companion plants for Hostas ranging from vegetables to flowers to herbs. Unfortunately, there are also some species that you should avoid planting near hostas.
This article provides you with all the information you need to know how to pick the perfect partners for your hosta.
- Hostas thrive when surrounded by complementary companion plants that provide aesthetic appeal and practical benefits. Choose plants that prefer similar growing conditions, like partial shade and cool, moist soil, to ensure a harmonious garden.
- Companion planting with hostas can improve biodiversity, attract pollinators, and naturally control pests, eliminating the need for harsh chemicals. Mixing different plant species creates an eye-catching display of colors, shapes, and textures, enhancing the overall beauty of the garden.
- When selecting companion plants, consider the look you want to achieve, plant characteristics, and environmental needs. Opt for good companions like azaleas, ferns, coral bells, and chives, while avoiding sun-loving plants, shallow-rooted trees, and slug-attracting species to ensure the best growth and health for your hostas.
- Key Takeaways
- What is Companion Planting?
- Characteristics of hosta plants
- 16 Great Companion Plants for Hosta
- Bad Companions for Hosta Plants
- Final Thoughts
- Frequently Asked Questions About Plants To Grow With Hostas
- What are companion plants for hostas?
- What are the best companion plants for hostas?
- Which plants should I avoid pairing with hostas?
- Do hostas grow best in full shade or partial shade?
- What are some shade-loving plants that pair well with hostas?
- Can I plant hostas with ferns?
- Are there any ground cover plants that go well with hostas?
- Can I plant hostas in front of other plants?
- What are the best hosta varieties for companion planting?
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What is Companion Planting?
Traditionally, companion planting was practiced on crop plants to improve yield by assisting growth and development.
The idea is that different plant species are planted next to one another in the same soil, in such a way they provide mutualistic benefits to one another.
There is a huge number of benefits that can be derived from companion planting including increased pollination, pest control or even improved aesthetics.
Additionally, this practice eliminates the need to use harsh, artificial chemicals on your plants and instead relies on the natural advantages provided by the plants.
Companion planting has been practiced for thousands of years and is still commonly implemented today.
Although originally used in agriculture, this practice has been adopted by many gardeners to benefit their ornamental plant species, such as hostas.
One famous example that perfectly illustrates companion planting is known as the “Three Sisters” method. It’s used to grow sweetcorn, squash, and beans.
Sweetcorn grows strong and tall. It acts as a natural structural support for the beans to climb up and grow.
Squashes have large leaves which cast shade over the soil, helping to retain moisture in the soil. This increases humidity which aids bean pollination.
The dense foliage also helps suppress weed growth, reducing competition for resources between the crops and weeds.
Beans are legumes. Plants belonging to this family and nitrogen fixers. They take atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into a fixed form in the soil. Nitrogen is an essential element for plant growth and development.
Sweetcorn and beans can utilize this fixed nitrogen to help them grow.
What Are the Benefits of Companion Planting?
Since hostas are notoriously hardy and easy to care for, you may be wondering why you should invest in growing other species alongside them.
Well, companion planting can provide a number of benefits to your hostas. Here are some of the main advantages:
Improves Biodiversity: Unlike monoculture when the same species of plant is grown in an area, companion planting is a form of polyculture.
Having a large variety of plants will attract lots of different wildlife, many of which will be beneficial such as pollinators.
Increases Pollination: Pollinators are responsible for pollinating around 90% of our crop plants, highlighting their importance.
Brightly colored and highly scented flowers are most attractive to pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and birds.
Pest Control: Instead of using artificial pesticides, a lot of plant species naturally repel pests.
These tend to be species that give off strong aromas or produce specific chemical compounds that deter insect pests.
Other plants attract predatory insects that prey on insect pests, helping to keep the population down. This is known as biological pest control.
Aesthetic Appeal: Mixed plant gardens are generally more attractive than a monoculture. Incorporating different plants into your display will create an array of different colors, shapes, and textures.
You can grow species that complement or contrast each other and make your garden visually interesting.
Improves Soil Health: Plants that belong to the “Fabaceae” family are nitrogen fixers. They take nitrogen from the air and fix it into the soil which can be taken up by surrounding plants to aid their growth.
Additionally, plants that cast a lot of shade reduce evaporation rates and help maintain soil moisture.
Plants that have long, deep roots will penetrate far into the soil, breaking it up as they do so. This makes the soil more porous and reduces the likelihood of waterlogging.
Considerations When Selecting Companion Plants
Before you go out and purchase some companion plants for your hosta, there are a few things you need to think about. Not every plant will make a great companion for your hosta.
In terms of aesthetics, consider what sort of look you are trying to create with your hosta garden. Do you want to follow a certain color scheme? Hostas have wonderful blue flowers that pop in most gardens.
Do you wish to focus on creating an interesting textural display or would you rather colorful flowers be the focal point? Some plants may look beautiful when paired together and others less so.
Moreover, you should consider the characteristics of the plants. Plants that grow large and quickly may become invasive and engulf species that are small and slow growing.
Likewise, if you pair heavy feeders together, they will start competing for water and nutrients.
Think about if your plants require the same environmental conditions. A plant that needs a hot and arid climate to grow should not be paired with one that only grows in cool and wet areas.
Similarly, a plant that thrives in acidic soil will not grow well next to one which needs alkaline soil. If your garden is predominantly shady, a sun-loving plant will suffer if grown there.
If you combine plants that are vulnerable to the same pests and diseases, you increase the likelihood of an outbreak as they can be easily transferred among the plants.
Characteristics of hosta plants
|Plant Family |
Asparagaceae (Asparagus family)
|Watering Conditions |
Well-draining soil, keep consistently moist
|Mature Size |
Varies by variety, typically 1-4 feet tall
|Soil Requirements |
Rich, well-draining soil; pH slightly acidic to neutral
|Sunlight Needs |
Partial shade to full shade
|Temperature Tolerance |
Hardy in USDA zones 3-9
|Growth Habit |
Herbaceous perennial with attractive foliage
|Flowering Period |
|Flower Color |
Lavender, purple, or white, depending on variety
|Foliage Characteristics |
Broad, heart-shaped leaves in various colors, including green, blue, and variegated
|Propagation Methods |
Division of clumps, seeds (less common)
|Pruning and Maintenance |
Remove faded flower stalks; cut back foliage in late autumn
|Common Pests and Diseases |
Slugs, snails, deer; foliar nematodes, leaf spot, crown rot
|Companion Planting |
Ferns, astilbes, heucheras, and other shade-loving plants
|Edible Parts |
Leaves (although not commonly consumed as food)
|Wildlife Attraction |
Attracts pollinators such as bees
Mildly toxic to pets and humans if ingested
|Special Care Instructions |
Mulch around the base to conserve moisture; protect from direct sunlight in hot climates
16 Great Companion Plants for Hosta
Hostas are shade-loving plants that grow best when planted in cool, moist soil in shady areas. They favor slightly acidic soil between pH 6.0 and 6.5.
Their USDA hardiness zones are 3 to 8, which means any plants you wish to grow alongside your hosta should require similar conditions.
Below, I have compiled a list of plants that make great hosta companions. Most of them offer aesthetic benefits because they look great when planted with hostas, although some also offer practical benefits, such as pest control.
Shrubs and Flowers
Azalea: The combination of green foliage and large, vibrant flowers makes for a great pairing. Both plants enjoy cool soil and shade.
Additionally, the dense growth of the azaleas hides some of the leggy growth of the azaleas near the soil.
Begonia: Another plant that grows well in partial shade is begonia. There are lots of varieties that boast unique foliage and pretty flowers, making for a great display.
Tulip: These flowers provide a splash of color amongst the bed of green hosta leaves. Tulips flower in the spring so will receive lots of sun before the hosta leaves begin to grow.
As the tulips begin to die, the host’s leaves emerge.
Japanese Forest Grass: This ornamental shrub has long, thin leaves that droop, giving the shrub a rounded shape.
Its unique foliage provides a stark contrast against the large, broad hosta leaves. Japanese forest grass is low maintenance and produces green flowers on the top during summer.
Bugleweed: This flowering plant grows low to the ground, creating a beautiful carpet-like effect underneath your hosta.
Its purple blooms stand out from the foliage and attract lots of pollinators, especially bees.
Pansy: Pansies bloom in the spring so will inject life and color into your garden prior to your hosta blooming. These small and dainty flowers look great when scattered in small gaps.
Additionally, pansies love cool conditions and the large leaves of the hosta will provide them with shade.
Bleeding Heart: A popular landscaping perennial, bleeding hearts make great companions for shade-loving plants such as hostas.
They boast pink, heart-shaped flowers which make for a great focal point and stand out against the green hosta foliage.
Daffodil: The yellow blooms of daffodils inject color amongst hostas prior to them filling out. Daffodils are easy to care for and grow well in partial shade.
Dogwood: These flowering shrubs can grow quite large and will provide your hosta with shade and protection from the wind.
Their striking red branches add some color to the garden during winter.
Fern: The delicate, airy texture of fern fronds provides visual interest and texture when planted next to the large, solid leaves of hostas.
Ferns and hostas both thrive in cool, shady, and moist conditions.
Coral Bells: These flowers thrive in the same water, soil, and light conditions as hostas, making them great companions.
The leaves of coral bells come in a variety of colors and create an eye-catching foliage display.
Herbs and Vegetables
Chives: The upright chives look great planted against the large, round leaves of hostas. Their purple flowers add a splash of color against the green foliage.
The scent of chives can help deter slugs and snails from feeding on your hosta. Additionally, chives are a great herb to incorporate into many dishes.
Lettuce: There are lots of varieties of lettuce that differ in their leaf shape and color, which look great against hosta foliage.
Lettuce also has the added bonus of being picked and used to make fresh salads.
Mint: The strong fragrance of mint acts as a natural insect repellent, helping to deter pests from your hostas.
It can grow in light shade, although grows very quickly so ensure you give it plenty of space.
Lemon Balm: The dainty leaves of lemon balm provide a nice contrast against the large hosta leaves. Additionally, the fresh fragrance of lemon balm helps to repel insect pests that feast on hostas.
Parsley: This herb thrives in the shade, making it a great hosta companion. The small, compact leaves provide texture when planted amongst hostas.
Bad Companions for Hosta Plants
Although hostas are easy to care for and are hardy to most conditions, there are still a few plants you should avoid growing alongside them. Some plants that make bad companions for hostas are:
Plants that Attract Slugs and Snails: Hosta leaves are delicious to slugs and snails and they are often under attack.
Avoid growing slug and snail-attracting plants near your hostas to minimize the chances of their leaves getting eaten.
Shallow Rooted Trees and Shrubs: Hostas themselves have shallow root systems. Growing them under plants with shallow and aggressive roots will put them in competition for nutrients and water.
Sun-Loving Plants: Hostas thrive in shady conditions. If they are placed near a plant that requires direct sunlight, your hosta is likely to get scorched and die.
For more growing tips and advice about growing Hosta, here is a link to Fertilizers for Hostas.
There are many shade loving plants that make good hosta companions. Choosing the right ones to plant next to your Hostas can really brighten up your garden.
Make sure to find plants like Hostas that prefer shade instead of the scorching hot sun because this will ensure your plants thrive and stay healthy.
With Hostas in your garden, you’ll enjoy beautiful shade plants and create an oasis of color.
Frequently Asked Questions About Plants To Grow With Hostas
What are companion plants for hostas?
Companion plants for hostas are plants that grow well alongside hostas and create a visually appealing and harmonious garden.
These plants complement the beauty of hostas and enhance their overall appearance.
What are the best companion plants for hostas?
The best companion plants for hostas are coral bells, bleeding hearts, ferns, and ground cover plants.
These plants share similar growing conditions and provide contrasting foliage colors, textures, and blooms, making them perfect companions for hostas.
Which plants should I avoid pairing with hostas?
Three types of plants that are best to avoid pairing with hostas are those that prefer full sun, like sun-loving annuals or perennial plants.
Hostas thrive in shade gardens, so it is important to choose plants that have similar light requirements and will not compete for sunlight.
Do hostas grow best in full shade or partial shade?
Hostas grow best in partial shade to full shade. While they can tolerate some morning sun, too much direct sunlight can scorch their leaves.
Providing them with dappled or filtered sunlight is ideal for their growth and foliage coloration.
What are some shade-loving plants that pair well with hostas?
Some shade-loving plants that pair well with hostas include astilbe, heuchera, hellebore, and ligularia. These plants thrive in shady environments and have similar growing requirements to hostas.
Can I plant hostas with ferns?
Absolutely! Hostas and ferns make great companions in the garden. Both plants prefer shade to partial shade and have textured foliage that complements each other.
The feathery fronds of ferns create a beautiful contrast with the broad leaves of hostas.
Are there any ground cover plants that go well with hostas?
Yes, there are several ground cover plants that go well with hostas. Some popular choices include ajuga, lamium, pachysandra, and sweet woodruff.
These low-growing plants create a lush carpet of foliage that complements the upright growth of hostas.
Can I plant hostas in front of other plants?
Yes, planting hostas in front of other plants can create a layered and visually appealing garden.
However, make sure to choose plants with contrasting heights and foliage textures, so they do not get overshadowed by the larger hostas.
What are the best hosta varieties for companion planting?
There are many hosta varieties that work well for companion planting. Some popular choices include ‘Sum and Substance’, ‘June’, ‘Blue Angel