Why Hostas And Hydrangeas Are A Perfect Pair In The Garden

Why Hostas And Hydrangeas Are A Perfect Pair In The Garden

Having companions is important to everyone, including plants. Some plants get along well with others, while some prefer to be alone. In the ornamental plant world, hostas and hydrangeas are considered the top companions. Their similarities and differences complement each other perfectly. Both plants have similar environmental requirements such as soil conditions and hardiness zones, but their growth habits are quite different.

You can find hostas and hydrangeas in hardy zones 3 through 9, although this may vary depending on the variety of each plant. When it comes to variety, you have many options to choose from if you wish to add these plants to your landscape. Hydrangeas come in different sizes and colors such as white, bright pink, and purple. You can create a unique and stunning landscape by pairing the bright green blooms of limelight hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’) with one of the many variegated bright green hostas cultivars. There is a lot of room for creativity when it comes to this fabulous duo.

Agreeable growing conditions

gardener fertilizing hydrangea plants

rafa jodar/Shutterstock

When growing companion plants, the biggest consideration is finding out if they will thrive in the same environment. This includes sunlight, soil type, and the amount of water they need to grow. At the top of the list is hardiness zones. Each plant in the arrangement must be hardy to your zone, or they won’t make it through the winter. Likewise, a plant that likes dry soil conditions will not do well if it’s paired with something that requires a consistently moist growing medium.

As we mentioned, hostas and hydrangeas are generally hardy in the same zones. They also both thrive in consistently moist, fertile soil. Hydrangeas certainly put on a more dynamic show with their big, gorgeous blooms, but hostas also need good soil to make the most of their stunning, textured leaves. Some varieties of hostas also produce a significant number of delicate blooms on vertical stems in the summer. Since these two plants agree on soil conditions, you won’t have to worry about different amendments or watering schedules.

Complimentary growth habits

full ornamental summer garden


What makes this dynamic duo really pop in the garden are their contrasts. The height and width of hosta plants and hydrangeas vary greatly depending on the varieties. The largest hydrangeas can reach over 10 feet tall, while compact options stay under 4 feet tall at maturity. Likewise, there are compact hostas and much larger cultivars. What remains common between all the varieties available is the ability of hydrangeas to offer a beautiful backdrop, while hostas feature as a smooth understory plant. In all but the hottest environments, most hydrangeas do well in full sun, so their height provides shade for hostas — which grow best in partial shade. While these two plants have different sunlight requirements, their size and sun requirements complement each other nicely.

Contrast also plays a role in the aesthetics of a garden featuring hydrangeas and hostas. The dark, deeply veined leaves of hydrangeas offer stark contrast against the smooth teardrop shape of hostas. If you select a bright green or variegated hosta variety, the color contrast between the bright and dark greens is a feast for the eyes. The complementary growth habits of tall/short, light/dark, and smooth/textured all make for a perfect landscaping combo in the right environment.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.