Tulips are beautiful on their own, but why not add companions to compliment that beauty? There are a number of reasons to add companion plants to your tulips buy there are three primary ones.
This first is to cover dying leaves. Summer-blooming perennials are good for this since they will stay for many years to come.
The second reason is to double the beauty of your flower bed. Tulips are beautiful on their own, but why not add complimenting plants to get even more color?
The third reason is to add a backdrop. By adding a good backdrop for your tulips you can really help them shine and their color pop.
Let’s take a closer look at 14 companion plants for your tulips.
1. Catnip (Cat mint)
If you have been in the plant world long, you have probably heard of catnip. It is most known for attracting cats, but it also has been used as a soothing tea for humans. The oil of the leaves is known to relieve headaches.
Catnip requires very little care and is a hardy plant. It suffers from very few diseases and is happy to grow in any soil type. It grows best in zones three to nine but has been known to grow beyond that.
While it does have flowers, the green leaves of this plant make it a great companion plant for tulips either as a backdrop or to interplant. Their added benefits to both you and your cat is also a big plus!
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2. Bells of Ireland (Shell flowers)
The beautiful name of Bells of Ireland is matched by the beauty of their flowers. These unique plants appear to be green but a closer inspection will reveal that the flowers themselves are typically white. The pale green calyxes or “bells” are what give the plants their distinctive look and name. The flower itself is tucked inside the leaves.
This unique plant has been known to grow in all hardiness zones but struggles in hot and humid zones. If you are in zone 10 this may not be the plant for you.
Bells of Ireland are also very good for a fresh flower arrangement or dry flower hangings. Their distinctive green “bells” are usually what people notice rather than the small flowers inside. This plant offers a nice fresh pop of green to any floral arrangement and is sure to impress.
Bells of Ireland are perfect background companions to the tulip as they grow to around 4 feet tall.
Need some sage wisdom and healing? Try planting sage as a companion plant with your tulips! Their botanical name, Salvia actually comes from the Latin word meaning “to heal.” This is because sage is used as a culinary herb but also used to be used for its healing properties. The ancient Romans even used it for a memory enhancer.
Their beautiful flowers and green foliage make a beautiful backdrop for tulips and they bloom as the foliage of tulips are dying, making them perfect for keeping your garden looking neat.
Although the S. officinalis variety is very practical and can be used when cooking, be aware that most varieties are suited for consumption by humans or animals. Likewise, some varieties are suited to different hardiness zones. Other popular varieties include Autumn Sage (S. greggii), Texas Sage (S. coccinea) and Pineapple Sage (S. elegans).
The Columbine is a perennial a hardy American native. They grow well in zones three to eight but have even been known to grow to zones nine and 10. Because of its hardiness, the Columbine is a fairly easy plant to grow but requires maintenance including deadheading.
The flowers are very notable and unique flower shapes. The flowers may present themselves in various ways and different varieties have different sepal and spur positioning. Likewise, the spurs can take on radically different shapes.
It is a fairly tall plant, at 12 to 18 inches tall. It does best in partial to full shade. While it is hardy to drought, it is best to keep them in damp soil. It is great for garden beds but not recommended for container gardening.
The Columbine is a perfect companion to the tulip because of how its features contrast with the tulip. Likewise, the Columbine is great for making a bold statement in your garden.
5. Dianthus (Carnation)
Dianthuses are another flower that in some cases acts as an annual and in others acts as a perennial. Regardless, they typically have a long bloom time which makes them perfect companions for tulips.
They may occasionally be known as Pinks (D. plumarius) or Sweet William (D. barbatus). While each different variety will have its own requirements, most Dianthuses grow in hardiness zones three to nine and prefer alkaline soil. They are deer resistant buy not rabbit resistant. They are however very prolific and spread happily.
It is best to plant them in spring or fall so they are ready to bloom in late summer to fall. Dianthuses also make beautiful and fragrant cut flowers and are semi-evergreen.
What is summer without coneflowers? They come in a wide range of varieties and are vastly popular across the United States. The purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, is by far one of the most popular flowers but other varieties like the light purple Echinacea angustifolia are also very recognizable.
Not only are the flowers beautiful but they are also practical. They attract pollinators and repel pests such as deer. They are also known to be an herbal remedy used as a painkiller. Native Americans used it to help ease anything from a toothache to a snakebite. Now, it is most commonly used to make tea.
Coneflowers are a great companion plant for your tulips because of their color, blooming season, practicality and ease of growth.
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The Tickseed is a bright summer blooming plant that will last well into the summer months. It comes in perennial and annual varieties so be careful to choose the kind you want when you are looking to buy.
The Tickseed is actually native to the United States and it is the state wildflower of Florida. The flower thrives in hardiness zones from four to 10. They do best in full sun but are tolerant of partial shade. They are easy to keep up with as deadheading the spent blooms is the only upkeep needed during their growing season. If the weather is particularly dry it is a good idea to water them but otherwise, they do not usually need watering.
These hardy flowers are a perfect pair with tulips as they are hardy and bloom when the tulip leaves are beginning to die.
8. Orange Stonecrop (Russian Stonecrop)
The stonecrop is known as a partial evergreen as it stays green most of the year and produces small yellow or orange flowers. It is a ground cover and is a great choice for flower beds or container gardening.
Due to their popularity, the Orange Stonecrop and other sedums mix well with plants like tulips if you are trying to give your garden a more “trendy” atmosphere.
Sedums are generally good companion plants for tulips as they offer a green backdrop when the tulip leaves are turning brown. The orange stonecrop is well suited given its easy-going nature and adaptability.
Daylilies are as beautiful as they are common and easy to grow.
The Daylily is a “sure-fire” perennial. They bloom with very little upkeep and are fairly easy to maintain. Their primary needed upkeep is basic deadheading. Although, if they begin to look rough they can be trimmed back.
They grow well in full sun but can also grow in shade. Growing in zones four to nine and any soil type they are very easy-going plants. They are suitable for garden beds but dwarf varieties do especially well in containers.
Daylilies add beautiful contrasting textures in a bed with tulips and are useful for blooming when tulips begin to die off.
Hellebores are unique rose-like flowers that bloom very early. The blooms are very heavy compared to the rest of the plant so they often bloom face down. They bloom in the winter around Christmas. Hellebores have even been known to even break through the frozen ground. That said, they are suitable for zones four to nine with some variation depending on the variety.
Hellebores come in a variety of colors, especially when planted by seed. Dark red and blue hues are a few of the most common colors. The seeds are not viable for long so be sure to plant them as soon as possible. Depending on the variety Hellebores require a moderate amount of upkeep.
Since they bloom so early, hellebores are perfect for filling in the holes where tulips were as well as covering dead tulip foliage.
11. Bleeding Heart
Due to the bleeding heart’s iconic shape and beauty, people think it is hard to grow. In reality, the opposite is true. The bleeding heart is very easy to grow. They do not even require pruning or deadheading since they will bloom again. Additionally, they are resistant to pests such as deer and rabbits.
Because they die back in the summer, bleeding heart is not the best choice if you are trying to hide the dying petals of tulips. However, their beautiful flowers are a wonderful and colorful compliment to tulips. Because of their distinctive shape and style, the bleeding heart is great if you want to give your garden a naturalized or woodland feel.
Hostas are hardy perennials that feature striking varieties of foliage. The leaves are their most notable feature. Still, the flowers bloom in white, pink or lavender and attract hummingbirds.
Unfortunately, pests such as snails, deer, and rabbits also like hostas. So, if you live in an area with common pest problems you may think twice about adding this to your garden. Aside from keeping away pests and basic maintenance, hostas are easy to care for.
Hostas come in many shapes and sizes so, depending on the variety, they can be suitable for many different kinds of gardens.
The notable and striking foliage of the hosta makes them great for taking the attention away from the dying leaves of tulips.
13. Viola (Violet)
Violas are lovely groundcover with green foliage and various colored flowers. The Common blue violet is one of the hardiest and, as the name suggests, common types of the viola.
There are around 500 species in the Viola genus so be sure to pick one that works for your hardiness zone and suits your needs. Most Violas are annuals or short-lived perennials. Read the labels to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.
In general, Violas require a moderate amount of upkeep with occasional trimming, deadheading and moist soil needed.
Violas are a good companion plant for tulips as they bloom around the same time, help attract pollinators and help cover dead leaves.
14. Brunnera (False Forget-Me-Not)
This lovely shade-loving perennial has notable silver and green heart-shaped leaves. It bears purple or blue flowers that pop. Its common name, False Forget-me-not comes from its flowers, which look similar to that of the Forget-Me-Not.
They are pest resistant. Making it a great ground cover to make your garden pop and add a beautiful base around tulips.
It is a low maintenance plant that only needs seasonal trimming. Brunnera performs well in hardiness zones three to eight and can be grown both in garden beds and in containers. It looks very at home in woodland like gardens or naturalized areas.
Brunnera pairs well with tulips because it blooms around the same time and helps cover the dying foliage of tulips.
There’s no doubt that tulips are perennials, read more about these long-lasting plants –