Companion Planting With Flowers: Which Flowers Grow Well Together

Companion Planting With Flowers: Which Flowers Grow Well Together

By: Liz Baessler

Companion planting is a great way to give your vegetable garden a completely organic boost. Simply by positioning certain plants together, you can deter pests and create a good balance of nutrients. Read on to learn more about using flowers for companion plants in garden beds and which flowers grow well together.

Companion Planting with Flowers

Flowers tend to have specific blooming times – planting something that blossoms in the spring next to something that blossoms in high summer will ensure bright color in that spot the whole time.

Also, the foliage and flowers of the later blooming plants will help disguise the fading foliage of perennials that have already passed. That being said, some flowers just look good together with their complementary colors and heights.

When companion planting with flowers, there are a few more things to keep in mind. What are your flowers’ growing conditions? Make sure to pair flowers that require the same amount of moisture and sunlight. Don’t accidentally pair a short, sun-loving plant with a taller one that will cast a shadow over it.

When pairing flowers that will bloom at the same time, consider their colors and shapes. A wash of the same color is nice, but the individual flowers might get lost. Try combining complementary colors, like yellow and purple, to make the colors pop.

Flowers That Look Good Together

So which flowers grow well together? Use the following flowers for companion plants in garden beds as a guide to get you started:

The Black eyed Susan pairs well in the garden with:

  • Cosmos
  • Globe amaranth
  • Daylilies
  • Shasta daisy
  • Phlox

And Daylilies looks great in a Flowerbed with:

  • Coneflower
  • Yarrow
  • Taro
  • Black eyed Susan
  • Lavender

Bee balm gets along with nearly any plant but particularly enjoys the company of globe thistle, columbine and silver sage.

Tulip flowers like fellow spring-blooming bulbs such as daffodils and grape hyacinth but also enjoy the company of perennials like asters and hosta.

Daffodils, like tulips, also prefer the company of other flower bulbs in addition to asters, hosta and iris.

Shasta daisy is a perennial plant that gets along well with a number of other flowers including Algerian iris, germander sage, rudbeckia and coneflowers.

This list, by no means, is all inclusive. As long as you keep growing conditions, heights, bloom times and colors under consideration, just about any flowering plant can make an excellent neighbor to another one. As the saying goes, “A flower does not think of competing to the other flower next to it. It just blooms.”

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Read more about General Flower Garden Care

Combining Tulips with Annuals and Perennials

When combining tulips with perennials, consider some perennials that, although they may not flower at the same time as the tulips, will hide the dying and yellowing foliage of the tulips when they are finished blooming. Daylilies are a good example.

Plant annuals around tulips that are just poking out of the ground. Tulips grow quickly to their flowering stage in spring, especially if temperatures are warm. If the annual flowers are already blooming, they'll be ready for the opening tulip flowers.

Photography by Suzanne DeJohn/National Gardening Association

Although tulips look great massed in planting beds, they look even better when combined with other bulbs, annual and perennial flowers, or shrubs. To get the best results, you'll need to consider each plant's color, bloom season, and height. Here's some combinations to get you started.

  • Bulbs
  • Annual and perennial plants
  • Shovel
  • Trowel
  • Soil amendments such as compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Hose

Tulips with other bulbs. Although a bed of red and yellow tulips is stunning, its stardom is fleeting. Why not extend the bloom season by including bulbs that will bloom before, during, and after the tulips are finished? Just remember the heights of the bulbs, and plant lower-growing ones in front of taller varieties. Some suggested combinations:

'Red Dynasty' tulip with 'Yellow Crown' fritillaria
Red 'Showwinner' tulips with 'Giant White' crocus
Pink 'Angelique' tulip with pink 'Rosy Clouds' daffodil

Tulips with annual flowers. In warm-winter areas, plant these annuals with the tulip bulbs in fall. In cold-winter areas, plant the annuals in spring as soon as you see the first tulip shoots emerge from the soil. Remember to keep low-growing annuals in front of taller tulip varieties.

Purple-white 'Shirley' tulip with white-purple-yellow 'Johnny Jump Up' violas
Red, white, yellow or purple Rembrandt tulip with white sweet alyssum
'Apricot Beauty' tulip with blue forget-me-not (Myosotis)

Tulips with perennial flowers. These combinations are low-maintenance and can be repeated every year. Perennials may need to be divided or thinned after a few years to leave room for planting tulips around them.

Tulips with spring-blooming shrubs. Tulips can be stunning when planted in front of or around these shrubs. These combinations bloom around the same time in spring or have complementary foliage color.

Care for plantings. When planting tulips with perennial flowers or shrubs, take into account the mature sizes of the perennials and shrubs. After a few years, you may neend to divide or move them. Except for species tulips, which naturalize easily, most varieties don't rebloom well, so you must replant each year.

When you plant bulbs around existing plants, be careful not to damage the root systems of the shrubs or flowers. Also, because the bulbs will be competing with the flower or shrub for water and nutrients, keep the area well fertilized and watered, especially in spring and fall. Add compost to the soil at planting time, and fertilize the bulbs with a high phosphorus and moderate to low nitrogen fertilizer.

When combining tulips with perennials, consider some perennials that, although they may not flower at the same time as the tulips, will hide the dying and yellowing foliage of the tulips when they are finished blooming. Daylilies are a good example.

Plant annuals around tulips that are just poking out of the ground. Tulips grow quickly to their flowering stage in spring, especially if temperatures are warm. If the annual flowers are already blooming, they'll be ready for the opening tulip flowers.

Borage (Borago officinalis)

Borage is a herb that many people have never heard of. It is easy to grow, has beautiful summer flowers, and offers a flavor similar to cucumber. Both its leaves and purple blooms are edible. Many gardeners grow borage as a companion to tomatoes because they believe it deters the pest tomato hornworm. It is also popular with bees and other insects, which means it helps ensure tomato plants are well pollinated.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: Annual for most.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade.
  • Soil Needs: Well-drained, medium moisture but can tolerate dry conditions.

11 Plant Combos You Should Grow Side-by-Side

It's part folklore, part science, but companion planting just may help your garden grow.

Step back in time to embrace some gardening wisdom your grandparents may have practiced: The concept of companion planting, or planting combinations of specific plants for their mutual benefit. "The theory behind companion planting is that certain plants may help each other take up nutrients, improve pest management, or attract pollinators," says Tom Maloney, horticulture educator for Penn State Extension. "Some research, such as how to attract beneficial insects like lacewings to the garden to fight pests, has been studied, so we know it's effective. We're still researching other aspects of companion planting."

While you're you're planning your companion garden, consider making your yard more inviting to some other friends by including flowers that attract hummingbirds or flowers that attract butterflies. Make the space appealing to the younger members of your family by including the best plants for kids or even a whimsical fairy garden. Add some pretty and practical structure to the garden with garden fence ideas. Don't forget to make space for some of the best flowers that bloom in summer. But be sure to set aside an area, whether it's a small plot or a raised bed, to try out these common-sense companion combinations in your garden. Then sit back and reap the benefits.

"For me, companion planting is about bringing pollinators and beneficial insects to your garden to improve biodiversity," says Amy Stross, blogger at and author of The Suburban Micro-Farm. Stross grows cukes up a trellis, and lets the nasturtiums, which have a unique scent that seems to repel pests, grow in a colorful tumble underneath.

These are all vegetables that require pollinators to produce, so invite insect visitors into your garden by planting flowering herbs such as dill, fennel, and parsley near melons and squash. "You won't get any yield if you don't have pollination for these veggies," says Maloney.

Alyssum is an annual that's easy to grow from seed in between rows of vegetables. "It's a big attractor of hover flies, which are beneficial insects that control aphids," says Stross. Plant pretty Swiss chard as a border, interspersed with these delicate low-growing flowers.

This Native American example of companion planting is often called the "Three Sisters." Corn gives the beans a place to climb. Beans convert atmospheric nitrogen to a form the plants can use. The spreading leaves of squash or pumpkin create a living mulch that reduces weeds and holds moisture.

These flowers exude a sticky substance on their stems that attract aphids and traps them there, says Stross. She finds that planting it next to her brassica crops, specifically broccoli, keeps the aphids off the broccoli. Plus, it brings in beneficial ladybugs to dine on the aphids.

"Pairing plants with different growth habits together is referred to as 'intercropping,' and we do have some data to show it's effective," says Maloney. In this case, tomatoes and eggplant grow tall and eventually can shade cool season crops such as lettuce, which doesn't like heat. This trick may extend your lettuce season slightly.

These two plants take up nutrients from different places in the soil so they aren't competing for resources. Radishes mature quickly and don't grow as deeply as carrots, which have a long tap root and take more days to mature, says Maloney.

Some gardeners believe basil improves the flavor of tomatoes, but it's primarily planted because its strong scent may repel pests. Plus, if you let some of your basil or cilantro go to flower, it brings in the pollinators, says Stross.

Aphids steer clear of smelly plants like chives or garlic, so try it near your lettuce. Or add alyssum nearby to bring in the beneficial insects, says Stross.

Plants with a strong odor or taste are said to discourage beetle and aphids. While there's no guarantee it works, it's certainly worth giving it a try to prevent roses from getting eaten by these pesky little bugs, which seemingly multiply overnight.

Chamomile brings in the beneficial insects for brassicas such as cabbage. In the fall, chop it up and toss on the bed to decompose, while leaving the roots intact to decay and enrich the soil, suggests Stross. "Maybe there's not always a lot of scientific evidence behind some of these pairings, but just start trying and see what works," says Stross. After all, experimentation is half the fun in the garden!

4. Heather

Heather is another early bloomer that is a good match with blueberries. Heather is a low-growing shrubby groundcover with delicate white or purple flowers. These plants are long-lived and always a pleasure to look at. Heather makes an excellent companion plant for blueberries.

There are many different varieties of Thyme to choose from!

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