Hosta Companion Plants (What To Plant With Hostas)
What to plant with Hostas is a question that comes up often. With their wide leaves and dense growth, it can be hard to decide what will look good with them. Which is why these pictures of landscaping ideas for Hosta companion plants may come in handy.
Hostas are one of the most-commonly recommended plants for shade gardens.
And it’s easy to see why.
They are easy to care for and will thrive in the shade-all-day spots where most plants just don’t grow well.
Which is why I’m planting a bunch of them in the shady part of my yard.
The only problem?
It’s hard to decide what to plant with the Hostas that will look good and add some extra color and interest to the shade garden.
So I went searching for pictures to get some landscaping ideas for Hosta companion plants and thought I would share my favorites.
1 | Spring Bulbs
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Spring bulbs like tulips and daffodils are great companion plants for Hostas, especially when planted under deciduous trees.
Since Hostas are one of the latest perennials to come up in the spring, they let the bulbs have their time in the sun before the tree leaves come out.
By the time the tree leaves emerge, the bulbs are done blooming and the Hostas will have the shade that makes them happy.
Then when the bulb season is done, the Hosta leaves help to cover the bulb leaves.
The perfect combination!
Alliums growing up through the Hostas almost look like they’re the same plant.
Bulbs with spiky leaves (like these wood hyacinths) create an interesting contrast with the wide Hosta leaves.
Spring Bulb Suggestions
2 | Shade Ground Cover Plants
Although Hostas aren’t invasive, they are pretty tough plants.
Which makes the large varieties work really well with shade ground covers (like Pachysandra) that can be a little aggressive.
They will even hold their own against potentially-invasive perennials like Lamium and Periwinkle.
Note: To make sure you aren’t creating a maintenance nightmare in your garden, check with your local nursery to see how aggressive some of these ground covers are in your area before planting.
Of course if you prefer easier to maintain ground covers, Hostas will work fine with them, too.
The Japanese Forest Grass in the picture above is one such example. Its yellow color really stands out against the blue and green Hosta leaves.
Shade Ground Cover Companion Plants
- Japanese Forest Grass
- Black Mondo Grass
Find our more about these shade-loving ground cover perennials HERE.
3 | Hostas With Ferns
Another one of the plants that often makes its way into shade gardens is ferns.
So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Hostas and ferns make a pretty good plant combination.
The lacy fern leaves create an interesting contrast against the wide Hosta leaves.
And the two together give the garden a lush, almost tropical feeling.
Planting them along the top of a retaining wall helps to soften the look of the stacked stone.
Japanese painted ferns with their beautiful silver and pink leaves provide both textural and color contrast against a yellow and green ‘June’ Hosta.
Find more hardy fern varieties HERE.
Some fern varieties can take over your garden if grown in the right conditions, so be sure to check with your local nursery for the best ones to grow in your area.
4 | Other Hostas
One of the easiest ways to make a statement with Hostas is to plant them with a whole bunch of other Hostas.
To create a big display, put in 3 to 5 plants of 3 to 5 different varieties.
Use some Hostas with variegated leaves and some with solid colored leaves so that it doesn’t look too busy.
Alternating different varieties down the side of a garden border is a beautiful way to line a pathway.
A whole line of the same type can also be stunning.
5 | Other Shade Perennials
Hostas look great with many other shade perennials.
For the most interesting combinations, look for leaves with different textures and colors, and flowers that will stand out against the Hosta leaves.
Blue Hydrangeas and pink spiky Astilbes look beautiful with yellow and green variegated Hostas.
Adding a statue in the middle provides an unexpected focal point.
Perennial geraniums make a good border in front of larger Hostas.
Because of their spiky leaves and colorful flowers, Daylilies are a good Hosta companion plant if they are planted in part shade. (They won’t bloom well if the area is too shady).
Alternating the Daylilies and Hostas makes a beautiful border along a path, or edge of a retaining wall.
In this picture, the dark leaves of Heuchera echo the reddish color of the Maple tree above. And the contrast with the green Hosta leaves makes this plant combination work really well.
Perennial Companion Plants
- Perennial Geraniums
- Bleeding Heart
6 | Annuals
Sometimes, planting a few annuals in with the Hostas is the best way to add some color.
You can do this by putting them in the ground between your perennials like the Coleus in the picture above.
Or plant them in containers that you place in the garden, like the impatiens in this picture.
This option gives you more control over the height of the flowers.
Annual Companion Plants
7 | Under Shade Shrubs and Vines
Hostas also do well with shade-loving shrubs, such as Rhododendrons.
The blooms from the bushes add some extra color to your shade garden.
While Japanese Maples don’t bloom, the red, lacy leaves add some variety to a bed of Hostas.
Find more shade-loving shrubs HERE.
Climbing Hydrangea is a vine that thrives in the shade.
It takes a while to get going, but once it does, it makes a good complement to Hostas.
The leaves have a similar shape but the lacy flowers add a different texture.
Shrub and Vine Companion Plants
- Japanese Maples
- Climbing Hydrangeas
That’s my list of landscaping ideas for Hosta companion plants. Hopefully you’ve found as much inspiration for your shade garden as I did for mine 🙂
Other Hosta Information
Have comments or questions about our Hosta companion plants and landscaping ideas? Tell us in the section below.
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This post was originally published on July 9, 2020 but was updated with new content on January 4, 2022.
Unfortunately, the same shadowy and humid places cherished by Hostas are home to some “Hostas-loving” animals: slugs. I realized that Hostas leaves are very prone to suffer attacks from those voracious animals after seeing that their beautiful leaves almost disappeared a few days after transplant. For a couple of years, I fought against the slugs with molluscicides, but I gave up and nowadays I have some ferns, not as colourful as Hostas, but slug-resistant.
Hi Jesus…you’re right…slugs can definitely be a problem with Hostas. I find that the varieties with thick leaves are much better at resisting them. In case you haven’t tried them (and want to), I have a few of recommendations here: https://www.fromhousetohome.com/gardenersoasis/hosta-varieties/#slug-resistant.
I sprinkle diatomed earth on the small shoots in spring it is safe for humans, slugs can not support it because too abrasive, there is a variety “Food grade” No more problem with slug
Thanks, Lolie! That’s a great suggestion for keeping slugs off Hostas!
What to plant as ground squirrels eat my bulbs?
Hi Margaret…Squirrels aren’t supposed to like daffodils or alliums because of their strong taste so you might try those. You could also try putting some chicken wire down where the bulbs are so the squirrels can’t dig (cover it with mulch if you don’t like the look of it).
I put slightly crushed egg shells all around the base of my hosts plants. My grandma taught me to do that because the slugs did not like to climb over the sharp shells.
Thanks for the tip, Suzanne! That sounds like it would work well 🙂
We had a bout with slugs a few years ago, until hubby put some toads out. Haven’t seen a slug in 3 years! Just be sure to keep water out for the toads though.
Thanks for the suggestion! Toads are great for controlling all kinds of garden pests 🙂
Hello Granny B,
I too have a terrible time keeping slugs away from my Hostas. Where does one get toads to put in the garden?? Do tell.
Oh, I think Impatiens are the perfect pop of color with hostas and ferns.
I agree, Lin! I think Impatiens make a great accent plant with Hostas 🙂
Praying Mantis will keep your garden clean of all crawling insects. I tried them on my potatoe patch which was infested. within a few weeks, they were gone. Once the Mantis eat all of the insects, beings the are cannibals, they kill each other, however that usually takes the whole season. You can google Praying mantis eggs and should be able to buy them. They come frozen, so just hang the packets under the leaves.
I have variegated Solomon Seal in with some bleeding hearts and lower in front Impatiens. I also have ferns and sedum ground cover.
It sounds very pretty, Pat. Thanks for the suggestions!
I love this Garden email. Such great help and ideas.
Thanks ladies keep it coming!!!!!
Thanks, Linda! I’m glad you’re finding it helpful 🙂
I love hostas. My grandmother would split hers every few years and share with me. I like to plant mine next to purple coral bells and coleus for the color abstract. I didn’t think about growing the hostas next to the spring bulbs to hide the leaves when they’re done blooming. Great idea! Thanks for the great info!
Thanks for the suggestion, Kimberly! Hostas planted with Coral Bells and Coleus sounds very pretty!
Can you plant trans-plant Hosta in Sept?
Hi Ellen…yes…Sept is a great time to transplant Hostas since the soil is still warm but the temperatures aren’t too hot.
I purchased a house last year in august that had some Hostas already grown. I do not know much about gardening but I have read that they are perennials and will grow again. If I want to add annuals around them, would I have to wait until they have started to regrow? and would I have to buy annuals that have already flowered? I appreciate any feedback as I have no idea where to start. Thanks!
Hi Jess…Yes, Hostas are perennial so they will come back. I would wait until the Hostas have started to come up before planting the annuals so you know where they are. (You could mark the spots with plant labels so you’ll know next year). The annuals don’t have to be blooming when you plant them, although many will be when you buy them. The only thing to watch out for is to get annuals that will grow in part shade or shade. Otherwise you may not get many flowers.
Some very nice suggestions for Hosta companions. However I would highly disagree with pachysandra, and that the Hostas can stand up to the competition. I had to rip out an entire bed that I had added pachysandra to, as it took over absolutely everything in its path, including the Hostas. You also need to be careful as to what variety of fern that you add, some are extremely invasive. Of course, both of those errors occurred when I was newer to gardening.
Hi Jill…Thanks for the update. I will add a note that Pachysandra can be very aggressive in the right growing conditions (it does work well in some areas). And I agree that the same can be said for some varieties of ferns.
Thank you!!! You had all the answers I was looking for, I started with a Rhodendron and added a hosta on a whim because it was the only thing I could find that was good in shade. And the last missing piece I needed was a vine type which you have given me a climbing hydrangea.
I’m happy you found it helpful, Bethany! Climbing Hydrangea will look beautiful with your Rhododendron and Hosta. It does take a little while to get going, but I think it’s worth the wait 🙂
I have several limelight hyrdranges. They start out small but spread and get huge. They are very heavy and after June rains they fall over . They look beautiful at the beginning but start to look like a jungle. What would you suggest?
Hi Janice…Limelight Hydrangeas are one of the bigger varieties so I don’t think there’s a lot you can do to make them smaller. But I will often stake them to keep the flowers more upright. To do this, I put 3 or 4 stakes in the ground around the plant (in far enough that they are covered by the leaves. Then tie some string around the outside of the stakes making sure to catch all the branches inside. You may need to do more than 1 round of string at different heights depending on how many different sized branches you have.
I also had a limelight that would grow 2 stories so after 3rd year got 3 black wrought iron tall fence sections and ringed it around the hydrangea and it stood tall and looked amazing!
Hi Linda…that is one massive Hydrangea! But it sounds like it would look very pretty with the wrought iron.
I have had the same problem, so what I do is put a small fence that wraps around my Hydrangea close enough for support. The fence has little “feet or wires” that go into the dirt. It just supports your beautiful plant ! Suzanne
I had a lovely bed of a variety of hostas with spring bulbs. I added some ferns and they have completely destroyed the bed. This fall I will have to take everything out and grub out the nasty fern roots. This has been an expensive learning experience!
Oh no! It sounds like you got some aggressive fern varieties. Hopefully you can save the Hostas and bulbs so you don’t have to buy all new ones.
Love the companion ideas. Any suggestions on keeping deer away from my hosta? They tend to mistake it for a buffet.
Hi Michelle…Unfortunately, (as you know) deer love Hostas! You can try some deer repellents like hanging irish spring soap or spraying Liquid Fence around. I have another post about keeping deer out of your garden that has some other ideas you could try.
I had the same problem, however, I seem to have found the answer.
This year, I took up all of my fences because I watched my neighbor defeat the deer. It seems, they hate to be squirted by a hose. The make a motion detector aprayer that comes on for about 10 seconds and sprays a blast of water about 3 to 4 feet off the ground. For the past two years, I have had NO deer problems.
You can find these sprayers, made by Rain Bird at Ace Hardware. I tried other brands, but they did not work well or last very long. These from ACE HaRDWARE really do the trick. Good Luck.
Thanks for the suggestion, Bob!
I’ve recently fallen in love with hostas and truly enjoy growing them in our yard. Thank you for the beautiful photos and companion ideas! My mind is already putting these together for my hostas. So glad I found this wonderful article!!!
Thanks, Paula! I’m happy you found it helpful 🙂 Good luck with your Hostas!
I have 3 large pine trees will Hostas do well under them ?
Hi Joanie…yes, I have Hostas growing under pines and they do well. You just need to make sure they are well watered.