Issue 83 Good Bulb Companions

Bulb Companions illustrationCombine bulbs and perennials to keep your garden looking full and beautiful even after the spring bulbs are finished. In issue 83, we shared a list of perennials that get along well with bulbs. Here are more great perennial neighbors. Match the growing conditions for the perennials and the bulbs for the most beautiful show.

Good Plants for Hot, Dry Sun | Great Companions for Moist Soil | Great Neighbors that Like Shade


Good Plants for Hot, Dry Sun

Plant Name Height/Width Light Cold/Heat Zones Comments
Cranesbill
Geraniumspp.
6 to 36 in. tall and 6 to 36 in. wide Sun 4 to 9/
9 to 1
Mounding habit covers ripening bulb foliage; flowers in shades of pink, purple, blue and white bloom from midspring to fall; cut back old foliage to 4 in. after flowering
Speedwell
Veronica spicata
6 to 18 in. tall and 18 in. wide Sun 3 to 7/
7 to 1
Blue, white or pink flower spikes start blooming in midspring; complements mid- and late-spring bulbs; well-fed plants may require staking
Thyme
Thymus serpyllum
1 to 2 in. tall and 10 to 12 in. wide Sun 4 to 8/
8 to 1
Dense carpet of bright pink flowers begins blooming in early summer; prefers neutral to slightly alkaline soils; fragrant foliage
Catmint
Nepetaxfaassenii
12 to 36 in. tall and wide Sun 3 to 8/
12 to 1
Lavender-blue flowers bloom from midspring to fall; covers ripening bulb foliage; cut back by half midseason to keep tidy
Garden phlox
Phlox paniculata
12 to 48 in. tall and 12 to 36 in. wide Sun 3 to 9/
9 to 1
Flowers in many shades of lavender, pink, red and white; mid- to late summer blooming won’t overshadow spring bulbs
Tall sedum
Sedumhybrids
18 to 24 in. tall and 18 in. wide Sun 3 to 9/
9 to 1
Rose flower clusters in late summer attract butterflies; low maintenance, so won’t disturb bulbs; drought- and heat-tolerant
Globe thistle
Echinops ritro
36 to 40 in. tall and 18 to 24 in. wide Sun 3 to 8/
8 to 1
Round blue flowers bloom in summer; deep taproot means it doesn’t need dividing so you don’t have to disturb bulbs
Coreopsis
Coreopsisspp.
9 to 48 in. tall and 12 to 24 in. wide Sun 3 to 7/
7 to 1
Bright yellow, white, pink or red flowers attract birds and butterflies; blooms complement late-spring and summer bulbs; pest-resistant and low maintenance
Basket-of-gold
Aurinia saxatilis
6 to 12 in. tall and 9 to 12 in. wide Sun 3 to 10/
10 to 1
Yellow flowers and silver foliage complement spring bulbs; prefers well-drained, sandy soil; great front of the border or rock garden plant
Peony
Paeonia spp.
24 to 48 in. tall and wide Sun 3 to 8/
8 to 1
Flowers of various colors and shapes bloom in spring; mounding foliage covers ripening bulb foliage; rarely needs dividing

Great Companions for Moist Soil

Plant Name Height/Width Light Cold/Heat Zones Comments
Virginia bluebells
Mertensia virginica
12 to 24 in. tall and 12 in. wide Part to full shade 3 to 7/
7 to 1
Early spring blooms complement bulbs; leaves fade by midsummer; prefers rich soil
Japanese sweet flag
Acorus gramineus
12 in. tall and wide Sun to part shade 5 to 11/
12 to 1
Bright green, evergreen foliage; tolerates moist to wet soils; slowly naturalizes
Brunnera
Brunnera macrophylla
12 to 18 in. tall and wide Part to full shade 3 to 7/
7 to 1
Leaves cover ripening bulb foliage; true blue flowers bloom in spring
Coral bells
Heucheraspp.
6 to 18 in. tall and 10 to 24 in. wide Part shade 2 to 9/
8 to 1
Stalks of delicate red, pink or white flowers bloom in late spring; variety of variegated and purple foliage colors; morning sun and afternoon shade prevent leaves from scorching or bleaching
Daylily
Hemerocallishybrids
8 to 60 in. tall and 12 to 48 in. wide Sun 3 to 9/
9 to 3
Flowers in nearly every color; long bloom season, many rebloom
Toad lily
Tricyrtis spp.
24 to 36 in. tall and 12 to 24 in. wide Part shade 5 to 9/
9 to 1
White, purple or spotted flowers in summer to fall; prefers moist, acid, fertile soil; complements late-blooming bulbs
Bergenia
Bergeniahybrids
8 to 24 in. tall and 12 to 24 in. wide Part shade 3 to 10/
9 to 1
Pink to purple flowers bloom in spring; shiny, leathery leaves stay clean through summer; leaves turn purple-bronze in fall

Good Neighbors that Like Shade

Plant Name Height/Width Light Cold/Heat Zones Comments
Caucasian comfrey
Symphytum caucasicum
6 to 36 in. tall and wide Shade 3 to 9/
9 to 1
Mounding habit covers ripening bulb foliage; flowers in shades of pink, purple, blue and white bloom from midspring to early summer; plant in dry shade; cut back old foliage to 4 in. after flowering
Columbine
Aquilegiaspp.
12 to 24 in. tall and 12 in. wide Part shade to shade 3 to 9/
8 to 1
Bright and pastel flowers bloom in spring; attracts hummingbirds and butterflies; deadhead faded blooms to prevent unwanted seedlings; tolerates poor, dry soils
Hosta
Hostahybrids
4 to 48 in. tall and 10 to 60 in. wide Part shade to shade 3 to 9/
9 to 1
Enormous selection of leaf colors, sizes and shapes; white or lavender flowers bloom in summer; plant in moist, well-drained soil; slugs and snails may eat leaves, but won’t kill plant
Bleeding heart
Dicentra spectabilis
24 to 48 in. tall and 18 to 30 in. wide Part shade 3 to 9/
9 to 1
Pink or white flowers hang from arching stems in spring; foliage dies back in summer heat; plant in moist, well-drained soil; pest and disease free
Sweet woodruff
Galium odoratum
6 to 12 in. tall and 9 to 12 in. wide Part shade to shade 3 to 9/
9 to 1
Tiny white flowers in spring; can be aggressive, but easy to pull; thrives in moist soil
Lady’s mantle
Alchemillaspp.
4 to 18 in. tall and 12 to 24 in. wide Part shade 4 to 8/
8 to 1
Chartreuse to yellow flowers in early summer; mounding leaves cover ripening bulb foliage; tolerates more sun in cooler zones; plant in moist, well-drained soil
Hellebore
Helleborusspp.
12 to 36 in. tall and wide Part shade to shade 4 to 8/
8 to 1
Blooms in late winter to early spring; flowers in white, pink, yellow, green or burgundy; tolerates dry soil
Lungwort
Pulmonariaspp.
6 to 12 in. tall and 15 to 40 in. wide Shade 3 to 8/
8 to 1
Mounding habit; rough leaves with silver markings; pink, blue or white flowers in early spring; deadhead faded flowers; plant in moist, well-drained soil
Periwinkle
Vinca minor
3 to 6 in. tall and spreads up to 36 in. wide Sun to part shade 4 to 8/
8 to 1
Lavender-blue flowers in spring continue sporadically through summer; tolerates full sun to part shade in moist, well-drained soils
Lily-of-the-valley
Convallaria majalis
8 in. tall and wide Shade 2 to 7/
7 to 1
Fragrant, white or pink bell-shaped flowers in late spring; prefers moist, well-drained soil; no serious pests; all parts of plant are poisonous to people and pets