By Susan Martin for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners
It’s easy to pick out pretty plants at the garden center, but how do you know which plants will go well together in the garden or in your patio pots? We’re sharing five beautiful ideas with you here, complete with details like how much sun and water they’ll need to thrive.
Let’s get started!
Heavenly Hydrangea Pairing
Gorgeous flowering hydrangeas are some of the most widely planted shrubs across North America. If you’re struggling to know what to pair with them, first take a look at how much space you have to work with. In most cases, you’ll want low growing plants like the Dolce® ‘Wildberry’ coral bells you see here to grow around the base of your hydrangeas. By using something short, you won’t cover up any of those amazing hydrangea blooms.
A few more details make this a perfect plant pairing:
In the North, they will thrive together in full sun to part sun. In the South, they will both need some protection from the hot afternoon sun.
Both enjoy average amounts of moisture, meaning the soil isn’t soggy but doesn’t dry out either.
Both need well-drained soil.
Their hardiness zones are similar. Invincibelle Spirit II smooth hydrangea: zones 3-8. Dolce® ‘Wildberry’: zones 4-9.
Easy Foundation Bed Makeover
Here’s a unique solution to liven up boring foundation plantings. If your traditional home has a row of evergreens growing up along the foundation with nothing in front of them, consider widening your bed to accommodate some colorful annuals. By doing so, you’ll retain the coverage in winter but bring far more curb appeal to the bed from spring to fall.
Here, a grouping of 2 to 2 ½’ tall annual ‘Sky Rocket’ grasses was planted in front of a row of evergreen shrubs that are up against the house. In front of them, a mass of 6-12” low growing Supertunia Mini Vista® petunias in shades of White and Violet Star was planted between the grasses and rock border. You can use any shade of petunias you like, just make sure to choose these shorter Mini Vistas so your grasses won’t get overrun. They will form a solid carpet of flowers that lasts from planting time until frost without deadheading.
Lunchtime at the Pollinator Buffet
If you want to draw in pollinating bees, butterflies and hummingbirds all season long, this is the perfect plant pairing for you! It works in large containers or in the landscape as long as lots and lots of sunshine is provided. These plants do not need any shade and love the heat. Average to somewhat dry soil is suitable for both, too. The blanket flower will be happy to “blanket” the feet of the cuphea without vying for the same space in the pot.
Vermillionaire® cuphea acts as the “thriller” in this pairing—the tall element with cigar-shaped, orange-red flowers that appear prolifically without deadheading all season. You will be amazed how quickly and easily hummingbirds find this plant! We’ve paired it here with an equally sun and heat tolerant annual blanket flower called Heat it Up® Scarlet, which is also available in Yellow. Plant Scarlet for a monochromatic look, or Yellow if you prefer a mixed color palette.
Elegant COR-TEN® Steel Container Planting
If an elegant, upscale container planting is just what your sunny space needs, try this perfect plant pairing in a large COR-TEN® steel planter. The recipe, named Rustic Chic, combines these elements:
Prince Tut® Cyperus grass - thriller
Fiber Optic grass - spiller
Diamond Frost® euphorbia - filler
Superbells® Over Easy™ calibrachoa - filler and spiller
A monochromatic white palette paired with verdant greens brings a clean, bright feeling and simply elegant look to this container. While both grasses prefer consistent moisture, the calibrachoa and euphorbia won’t mind that their planting partners steal some of the moisture away between waterings. Both types of flowers need only average moisture to thrive. A weekly to bi-weekly application of water-soluble plant food focused around the calibrachoa is recommended.
Purple + Chartreuse = A Winning Combination Every Time
If you struggle with color pairings, try purple and chartreuse together. It works every time, whether you’re looking for container companions or larger plantings for the landscape. Here, we’ve paired ‘Miss Violet’ butterfly bush with Fluffy® Western arborvitae. The purple-violet blossoms and glowing chartreuse-gold evergreen foliage will easily catch your eye and that of pollinators who are happy to stop by the butterfly bush for lunch.
What makes this a perfect plant pairing:
Contrasting colors of foliage and flowers.
Shape and scale of the two plants, with one not overpowering the other.
Year-round structure and interest from pairing an evergreen with a deciduous shrub.
Both plants absolutely require well-drained soil and thrive in full sun, though Fluffy can take a bit of shade.
Their hardiness zones are similar. Butterfly bush: zones 5-9. Western arborvitae: zones 5-8.