Tired of slugs and deer ruining your hostas? Learn the secrets of companion planting for hostas to keep pests away and create a gorgeous, low-maintenance shade garden.

Hostas, with their lush foliage and elegant blooms, are staples of the shade garden. But did you know that choosing the right companion plants can make your hostas even more stunning while also helping them thrive? Let’s chat about the world of companion planting for hostas.

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What is Companion Planting and Why Your Hostas Need It

Companion planting involves strategically placing different plants together to reap mutual benefits. Here’s how it helps your hostas:

  • Benefits of Companion Planting for Hostas: Deters pests like slugs and deer, attracts beneficial insects, suppresses weeds, improves soil health, and adds visual interest.
  • Addressing Hosta Challenges: Slugs and Deer: Choosing the right companions can actively discourage these common hosta pests.

Thus, companion planting minimizes pest damage to your hostas, keeping them beautiful, reducing your workload, and eliminating the need for harsh pesticides.

close up of hosta plant with lavender purple flowers
Hosta plant with lavender purple flowers

Best Companion Plants for Hostas: Color, Texture, and Function

Beyond their stunning foliage, hostas offer a low-maintenance aspect to your shade garden. But did you know that choosing the right companion plants can elevate your hostas to new heights?

Companion planting strategically pairs hostas with other plants, creating a mutually beneficial ecosystem. Not only will you see a burst of color and visual interest throughout the season, but your hostas will also benefit from improved health, pest deterrence, and weed suppression.

Let’s delve into the world of companion planting for hostas, exploring the best options for spring, summer, and beyond!

Early Spring Color in Your Shade Garden: Hosta Companion Plants

Don’t let hungry deer or other pests ruin your spring show! Choose early-blooming companion plants that not only add color to your shade garden but also naturally deter pests, protecting your hostas as they grow.

Daffodils (Narcissus)

These cheerful yellow or white blooms signal the start of spring and brighten up your shade garden before your hostas fully emerge. Their scent and natural compounds deter deer, making them excellent protectors for your hostas (zones 3-8). Their sap and scent are generally unappealing to slugs too. Daffodils prefer full sun to part shade, and well-drained soil. However, they can take shadier locations under deciduous trees.

daffodils and vinca in spring garden

Hyacinths (Hyacinthus)

Enjoy the sweet fragrance and vibrant colors of hyacinths as your hostas begin to unfurl. Like daffodils, they are deer-resistant, offering an extra layer of protection (zones 4-8). They prefer full sun to part shade, and well-drained soil. However, they can take shadier locations under deciduous trees.

A vibrant garden featuring clusters of variously colored hyacinths, including purple, pink, and lavender, among blooming yellow daffodils, all illuminated by sunlight in a serene setting.

Dicentra (Bleeding Hearts)

Add whimsical charm with the heart-shaped blooms of bleeding hearts. Along with their beauty, they are considered a deer repellent plant as dicentra is toxic to them when ingested. These contain some compounds that can be a slight deterrent, especially when the plants are young. Hardy in zones 3-9. bleeding hearts prefer part to full shade with moist, well-drained soil.

Brunnera

Enjoy the silvery, heart-shaped foliage and delicate blue flowers of Brunnera. They add a lovely textural contrast to hostas and bloom early in the season (zones 3-7). The plant’s fuzzy foliage texture makes them less attractive to slugs and deer. They prefer part to full shade with moist well-draining soil.

brunnera in the shade garden

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

These charming wildflowers offer soft blue, bell-shaped blooms in early spring, adding a touch of woodland magic to your shade garden (zones 3-8). They prefer part to full shade and moist well-draining soil.

virginia bluebells close up
Virginia Bluebells

Hellebores (Helleborus)

Also known as Lenten roses, hellebores provide long-lasting blooms in late winter and early spring, offering early color alongside with long lasting blooms for your emerging hostas (zones 4-9). These contain natural toxins that can deter pests, including slugs and deer. Lenten rose prefers locations in part to full shade, and moist, well-drained soil.

hellebores and daffodils in a flower garden

Quick Tips: Springtime Companions for Your Hostas

Get a jumpstart on your shade garden’s beauty! This summary chart highlights easy-to-find springtime flowering plants that complement your hostas perfectly. From cheerful daffodils that deter deer to the delicate blooms of Virginia Bluebells, these companions will add color and charm as your hostas begin to unfurl.

Plant NamePlant AttributesHardiness ZoneBenefits as a Hosta Companion Plant
Daffodil (Narcissus)Cheerful yellow or white blooms3-8Early color, deer and pest deterrent
Hyacinth (Hyacinthus)Fragrant blooms, various colors4-8Early color, deer and pest deterrent
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)Unique heart-shaped pink or white blooms3-9Adds whimsical charm, slight pest deterrent while hostas emerge
BrunneraSilvery, heart-shaped foliage, delicate blue flowers3-7Adds whimsical charm, slight pest deterrent while hostas emerge
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)Soft blue, bell-shaped blooms3-8Adds whimsical charm, slight pest deterrent while hostas emerge
Hellebores (Helleborus)Long-lasting blooms in late winter/early spring4-9Adds whimsical charm, slight pest deterrent while hostas emerge
Companion Plants for Hostas That Bloom in the Spring

Create a Stunning Summer Shade Garden: Vibrant Companions for Hostas

Enjoy a vibrant summer shade garden with minimal effort. Discover companion plants that thrive alongside hostas, injecting long-lasting color and visual interest. These low-maintenance perennials and annuals will complement your hostas beautifully, creating a captivating landscape all season long.

Ferns

Ferns offer delicate texture and lush greenery, providing contrast from the first moments your hostas emerge (zones vary by species). Pair the bold leaves of hostas with the delicate, airy fronds of ferns for a captivating visual contrast. They prefer part to full shade and moist well-drained soil.

Ferns in the Woodland Garden

Astilbe

Create a burst of color and texture with the feathery plumes of astilbe in shades of pink, red, and white. Their delicate blooms contrast beautifully with your hostas’ bold foliage (zones 4-9). While not slug-proof, their texture can sometimes discourage slugs. Ferns are deer resistant so planting them among your hostas helps keep them away. Astilbes prefer part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil.

A vibrant garden with various shades of green foliage, featuring large patterned leaves in the foreground and a round rock partially visible in the background. (hostas and astilbes)
Astilbes and Hostas

Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Heuchera plants are standouts that offer both vibrant, long-lasting foliage in various colors and delicate blooms. Their contrasting textures and colors will enhance the visual appeal around your hostas (zones 4-9). They prefer part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil.

close up of heuchera foliage that is peach colored - peachberry ice by proven winners
Heuchera ‘Peachberry Ice” by Proven Winners and Walter’s Gardens

Ligularia

Add drama with the bold, striking foliage of Ligularia. Its large leaves and bright blooms like yellow daisies offer a stunning contrast against the smooth textures of hostas (zones 4-8). They prefer part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil. Deer are not fans of ligularia too, so planting them around your hostas will help keep them away.

Vivid orange flowers on ligularia with a background of green leaves and blurred pink flowers in a lush garden.

Caladiums

Bring a touch of the tropics to your shade garden with the brightly colored, heart-shaped leaves of Caladiums. Their vibrant patterns add an eye-catching element when paired with hostas (zones 9-11 as perennials, grown as annuals elsewhere). They prefer part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil. Because caladiums are not hardy in most hardiness zones, if you want to save them for the following season they need to be dug up in the fall.

close up of caladiums in Shade Container Idea with caladiums
caladiums

Elephant Ears (Colocasia and Alocasia)

Make a statement with gigantic, tropical-looking leaves. Elephant ears create a stunning backdrop for your hostas or can be used as a dramatic focal point (zones 9-11 as perennials, grown as annuals elsewhere). They prefer part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil.

colocasia and supertunias
Elephant Ears (colocasia) with supertunias

Impatiens

Inject nonstop color all summer long with impatiens. These summer flowering annuals are low-growing blooms that thrive in the shade, filling in spaces around your hostas beautifully (annual in most zones). Part to full shade, moist soil. They prefer part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil.

front pond garden with hosta plants and impatiens flowers

Begonias

Enjoy the endless variety of begonias, both for their foliage and their blooms. Their versatility allows you to find the perfect begonias to complement your hostas and create a visually stunning display (zones vary depending on variety). They prefer part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil.

A vibrant close-up of a garden with mixed flowers, highlighting a large pale pink blossom with a yellow center surrounded by smaller red and white blooms, set against a backdrop of lush green leaves.

Quick Tips: Summer Shade Garden Stars for Your Hostas

Spice up your hosta garden with these summer-blooming companion plants! This chart features a mix of vibrant flowers, eye-catching foliage plants, and lush ferns that thrive in the shade alongside your hostas. From bold Ligularia to delicate astilbe plumes, these companions will add color and captivating textures all season long.

Plant NamePlant AttributesHardiness ZoneBenefits as a Hosta Companion
AstilbeFeathery plumes in pink, red, and white4-9Long-lasting blooms, textural contrast with hostas, deer resistnat
Coral BellsVibrant foliage in various colors, delicate blooms4-9Adds color and textural variety all season
LigulariaBold leaves, yellow daisy-like blooms4-8Dramatic foliage, striking contrast with hostas, deer-resistnat
FernsDelicate, airy fronds in various texturesVariesLush groundcover, beautiful textural contrast
CaladiumsHeart-shaped, vibrantly patterned leaves9-11 (grown as annuals elsewhere)Tropical flair, textural contrast
Elephant EarsHuge, tropical-looking leaves9-11 (grown as annuals elsewhere)Adds a statement piece, bold backdrop for hostas
ImpatiensBright, continuous blooms in many colorsAnnual in most zonesFills in spaces with low-growing color
BegoniasVariety of foliage and bloomsAnnual but varies by typeEndless options for color, texture, and size
Companion Planting Ideas for Hostas in Your Summer Garden

Groundcovers for Hostas: Suppress Weeds and Create Lush Texture

Transform the area around your hostas into a stunning tapestry of textures. These versatile groundcovers that bloom not only suppress weeds but also create a visually captivating backdrop for your hosta’s bold foliage.

Ajuga (Bugleweed)

This fast-spreading groundcover features attractive foliage and blooms in spring. Its dense growth can help suppress weeds around your hostas (zones 3-9). Ajuga prefers full sun to shade and is adaptable to various soil types.

A close-up of vibrant purple ajuga flowers blooming densely, with green foliage in the background and a single orange tulip partially visible.

Tiarella (Foamflower)

Foamflower offers both delicate white or pink blooms and textured foliage. Its airy texture creates a lovely contrast with bold hosta leaves (zones 4-9). Tiarella prefers part to full shade in moist, well-drained soil.

Epimedium (Barrenwort)

With delicate heart-shaped leaves and dainty flowers in spring, epimedium adds a touch of whimsy. It also provides good groundcover, helping to suppress weeds (zones 5-9). Epimedium prefers locations in part to full shade in moist, well-drained soil.

A close-up photo of a dense patch of vibrant green and red veined leaves with small yellow flowers interspersed throughout. (epimedium - barrenwort)

Quick Tips: Gorgeous Groundcovers for Your Hostas

Suppress weeds, add lush beauty, and create a harmonious backdrop for your hostas with these versatile groundcovers. This chart highlights a mix of shade-loving plants that offer textural variety, attractive foliage, and some even provide charming blooms.

Plant NamePlant AttributesHardiness ZoneBenefits as a Hosta Companion Plant
AjugaSpreads quickly, purple or blue blooms in spring3-9Dense growth suppresses weeds, adds color
TiarellaDelicate white or pink blooms, textured foliage4-9Airy texture contrasts with hostas, lovely blooms
EpimediumDelicate heart-shaped leaves, dainty flowers5-9Adds whimsical touch, good groundcover with lovely spring blooms
Groundcover Ideas for Hosta Plants

More Shade-Loving Companions for Hostas: Flowering Trees and Shrubs

Expand your shade garden palette beyond blooms and groundcovers! Discover a range of shade-loving companions, including small trees, elegant shrubs, and captivating flowers. These versatile plants will add structural interest, diverse textures, and a touch of magic to your hosta garden.

Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum, small varieties)

Add a touch of elegance with the striking foliage of a small Japanese Maple. Their contrasting form makes them a stunning backdrop for your hostas (zones 5-9). Japanese maples thrive in part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil.

Small pond garden with japanese maple and garden sculptures with blooming azalea and daffodils -37 Backyard Living Space Ideas
Zen garden koi pond with Japanese Maple and Garden Sculpture

Hydrangeas

Enjoy large, showy blooms in various colors throughout the summer. Hydrangeas thrive in the same conditions as hostas, offering visual interest and potentially deterring pests with their scent (zones 4-8). They prefer full sun to partial shade depending on the variety and thrive in moist, well-draining soil.

blue and white hydrangea flowers in the backyard garden in my early summer garden tour in new jersey

Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Complement your hostas with the vibrant spring blooms of azaleas and rhododendrons. Choose young shrubs and plant them strategically to give both your hostas and these companions room to thrive (zones vary by species). I usually plant them in front as an underplanting to these spring-blooming shrubs. Both prefer part shade with moist, well-drained acidic soil.

zen garden pond with koi fish, staddle stone, pink rhododendron, and japanese maple tree

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

This beautiful woodland shrub offers glossy foliage year-round and showy spring flowers. Consider it as a backdrop for your hostas when space permits (zones 5-9). Mountain Laurels thrive in part to full shade, in moist, well-drained acidic soil.

Clusters of pink and white kalmia latifolia flowers bloom vibrantly against a green leafy background in a sunny garden. (mountain laurel)

Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)

This unique shrub with fragrant, white flower spikes adds vertical interest to your shade garden (zones 4-8) and attracts loads of butterflies. Bottlebrush buckeyes prefer part to full shade in moist, well-drained soil.

A swallowtail butterfly perched on a vertical white flower spike on bottlebrush buckeye, surrounded by lush green foliage in a garden.
Bottlebrush buckeye flowers and swallowtail butterfly

Quick Tips: Trees and Shrubs to Enhance Your Hosta Garden

Add structural interest and year-round beauty to your hosta garden with these shade-tolerant trees and shrubs. This chart highlights options ranging from small, elegant Japanese maples to vibrant azaleas, providing a mix of textures, blooms, and sizes to complement your hostas.

Plant NamePlant AttributesHardiness ZoneBenefits as Hosta Companion Plant
Japanese MaplesStriking foliage, graceful form 5-9Adds a beautiful focal point, contrasts with hosta textures
HydrangeasLarge, showy blooms in various colors4-8Long-lasting blooms, potential pest deterrence
Azaleas and RhododendronsVibrant spring blooms, glossy foliageVariesSpectacular color, choose young shrubs for best spacing
Mountain LaurelGlossy evergreen leaves, showy spring flowers5-9Year-round interest, beautiful backdrop for hostas
Bottlebrush BuckeyeFragrant white flower spikes, large leaves4-8Adds vertical interest, bold texture contrast
Companion Planting for Hostas with Flowering Shrubs and Trees

Hosta Garden Design: Tips for Stunning Companion Plant Combinations

Elevate your hosta garden from beautiful to extraordinary! With thoughtful design, your companion plants can create stunning contrasts, lots of colors, and visual harmony alongside your hostas. Explore simple tips on color combinations, texture play, and layering different heights to design a shade garden that’s truly a work of art.

  • Playing with Color Contrasts: Pair chartreuse hostas with deep purple coral bells or blue hostas with orange ligularia.
  • Mixing Textures for Visual Interest: Combine the bold leaves of hostas with the airy ferns or feathery astilbe blooms.
  • Creating a Layered Look with Hostas: Plant taller companions like astilbe behind hostas, with groundcovers like ajuga in front.
A large garden pot filled with white sweet alyssum and pink flowers of gomphrena, surrounded by lush green and variegated yellow hosta plants in a vibrant garden setting.

Companion Planting for Slugs & Deer: Tips for Success

While certain companion plants can help reduce slug and deer damage to your hostas, it’s important to understand a few things for the best results. Not all plants are completely pest-proof, and success often depends on choosing the right varieties and combining companion planting with other control methods. Here are some key considerations:

  • Deterrence vs. Resistance These plants may deter slugs or deer, but determined ones might still eat them.
  • Variety Matters: Some cultivars of these plants might be more resistant than others. Combined Approach: Companion planting is most effective when combined with other deer and slug control methods (copper tape, barriers, etc.).
Different hosta varieties, joe pye weed, butterfly bush and monarda in zone 6a garden - Hostas need the Best Deer Repellent to protect them

More About Companion Planting for Hostas

What is your favorite companion plant for hostas? Share your favorite hosta companion pairings in the comments below! Let’s inspire each other with shade garden ideas.

Garden Supplies I Use With My Hostas

Since I’ve been gardening for well over twenty-five years, I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. Here are some of my favorites that I use in no particular order.

dahlia kogane fubuki in the potager garden

Click here to shop my favorite garden supplies!

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