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Garden Companions

September 3, 2018 by Heather Lappe, Associate Landscape Designer

Just like people, plants enjoy being surrounded by good company. In fact, some plants are much healthier when planted together. Normally, each plant competes with those around it for space, resources and nutrients to thrive. By selecting mutually beneficial plant groupings, you can create an effective use of space, pest prevention, increase growth potential and may even attract pollinators along the way!

For maximum growth, it is important to consider each plant’s sun and shade needs, and water and soil conditions.

  • Sun or Shade – it’s important to make sure grouped plants all prefer the same amount of natural light, whether that’s full sun, part-sun, full shade or part-shade.
  • Water – plants sharing the same space should have similar water needs whether they prefer wet, damp or dry conditions.
  • Soil Conditions – it’s important to pay attention to pH preferences; low, neutral or high.

Beyond nutrient needs, plants should also complement each other aesthetically. Some things to consider when designing a beautiful companion garden include:

  • Size – varying heights adds interest to your outdoor living space and mixing up the height of your plants in a group also ensures larger growing plants don’t crowd out small plants.
  • Bloom Time & Season of Interest – select plants that bloom during times you desire color. You can group plants that bloom at the same time for one big floral show or stagger the bloom cycle for color and vibrancy throughout several seasons.
  • Bloom Color –choose a monochromatic look or one with complementary colors.
  • Leaf Texture – add additional color and texture to your space by selecting plants with different leaf textures. For instance, ferns have a fine texture and look great next to hostas, which have a courser leaf texture.
  • WildlifeWhen putting plants together, it is helpful to know if they attract pollinators or repel deer/rabbits. You can make your final selection based on your potential animal needs.

Below are some examples of companion plant groups. Each grouping shares similar sun, water, and soil needs. The plant groups noted below are also aesthetically pleasing, making use of a variety of plant sizes, staggered blooms so they produce color from spring to fall, and color palettes from monochromatic to varied.

Full Sun Perennial Plantings

For a simple color palette (all white/monochromatic) that provides blooms all season long, try coneflower, white swirl Siberian iris and calamintha.

Shady Perennial Plantings

For an easy way to add color to every season, try using plants with colorful leaves. Japanese forest grass, patriot hosta and berry smoothie coral bell provide foliage of yellow from the grass, green and white variegation in the hosta and red and pink tones in the coral bell.

Outdoor Annual Container Plantings in Full Sun

Utilize different growth shapes and sizes (tall vs. vining) while providing season long flowering in warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows) by using lantana, geranium, canna and yellow potato vine.

Curious about adding companion plantings to your outdoor living area at home or work? Our team of experts would love to help! We provide everything from design to installation. Learn more here, or request a quote.

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