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.

what to plant with hostas

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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Hostas planted with pink tulips in the shade garden ©Asetta - stock.adobe.com
©Asetta – stock.adobe.com

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.

Hosta leaves covering old bulb leaves

Then when the bulb season is done, the Hosta leaves help to cover the bulb leaves.

The perfect combination!

Purple Alliums growing up through Hostas

Alliums growing up through the Hostas almost look like they’re the same plant.

Hostas with companion plants ferns and Wood Hyacinths

Bulbs with spiky leaves (like these wood hyacinths) create an interesting contrast with the wide Hosta leaves.

Spring Bulb Suggestions

  • Tulips
  • Daffodils
  • Alliums
  • Hyancinths

2 | Shade Ground Cover Plants

Hostas and Pachysandra planted together

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.

Hostas planted with Lamium, Heuchera and ferns

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.

Hostas planted with Japanese Forest Grass

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

Find our more about these shade-loving ground cover perennials HERE.

3 | Hostas With Ferns

Hostas planted 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.

Hostas and ferns planted on top of a stone wall

Planting them along the top of a retaining wall helps to soften the look of the stacked stone.

'June' Hosta planted with Japanese painted ferns

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

A bed of Hostas surrounding a statue

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 Hostas lining a garden path

Alternating different varieties down the side of a garden border is a beautiful way to line a pathway.

A large garden border made of Hostas

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.

Hostas planted with ferns, astilbe and hydrangeas in the garden

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.

Hostas planted with perennial geranium ©vodolej - stock.adobe.com
©vodolej – stock.adobe.com

Perennial geraniums make a good border in front of larger Hostas.

Landscaping with hostas and daylilies
Hostas and Daylilies planted together

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.

Hostas, Heuchera and Lamium planted under a maple tree

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

6 | Annuals

Hosta planted with Coleus and a Hydrangea

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.

Hostas planted with ferns surrounding a statue and a container with impatiens

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

  • Coleus
  • Impatiens
  • Begonias
  • Caladiums

7 | Under Shade Shrubs and Vines

Hostas growing under Rhododendron and climbing Hydrangea vine

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.

Hostas growing under a climbing Hydrangea vine

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

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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30 Responses

  • 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.

    • 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

          • 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).

    • 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.

  • I have variegated Solomon Seal in with some bleeding hearts and lower in front Impatiens. I also have ferns and sedum ground cover.

  • 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!

    • 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 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.

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