The Ultimate Guide: How To Plant Hostas and Hydrangeas Together
If you’re looking to add some visual interest and lush foliage to your garden, planting hostas and hydrangeas together can be a beautiful and practical companion pairing.
With their shared preferences for partial shade and moist, rich soil, hostas and hydrangeas complement each other beautifully when planted in close proximity. The hostas provide lovely mounds of leaves in various hues of green, blue, and variegated patterns, while the hydrangeas offer eye-catching blooms in shades of pink, blue, purple, and white.
Planning the layout and care for these plants does require some forethought to ensure they both thrive, but the results are well worth the effort. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process of planting hostas and hydrangeas together, from variety selection and garden prep to ongoing maintenance.
So, how to plant hostas and hydrangeas together? Well, with the right know-how, you can create a showstopping garden combination that delights year after year.
Choosing the Right Hosta and Hydrangea Varieties
When planting hostas and hydrangeas in tandem, it’s important to select varieties that share similar site preferences and growth habits. Here are some key factors to consider:
- Sun exposure – Both plants prefer morning sun with afternoon shade, so choose a garden location that provides a few hours of sunlight followed by protection from the hottest part of the day. Most hostas and hydrangeas can tolerate partial shade all day as well.
- Mature size – To allow both plants ample room to reach their mature dimensions, match larger hosta varieties like ‘Sum and Substance’ with bigger hydrangea shrubs like ‘Nikko Blue.’ More petite options like ‘Cat’s Eye’ hosta and ‘Little Lime’ hydrangea are better suited to smaller spaces.
- Flowering times – While hosta blooms are quite subtle, pick hydrangea varieties that flower simultaneously or after the hostas’ early summer display. Otherwise, the hydrangea flowers may hide the hostas’ delicate blooms.
- Leaf color – For maximum contrast, pair hostas with blue-green, yellow, or variegated foliage with hydrangeas that have dark green leaves and brightly colored blossoms.
- Growth habits – Choose upright or mounded hydrangeas to complement the rounded shape of hosta clumps, and select a similar density of growth between the two plants.
Taking stock of these variables will help you create a cohesive and well-balanced garden composition.
Preparing the Garden Site
Hostas and hydrangeas both require specific growing conditions to enable them to thrive as companion plants, so preparing the garden site properly is key. Here are some tips:
- Test the soil – These plants prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0-6.5. Use a soil testing kit to determine your garden’s pH and amend if needed.
- Improve drainage – Hydrangeas and hostas are vulnerable to root rot in waterlogged soil, so fill in low spots, create raised beds, or add organic material to improve drainage.
- Add compost – Work in 2-3 inches of well-rotted compost to enrich the soil with essential nutrients and organic matter.
- Space plantings – Allow ample room between plants for air circulation and future growth. Space hostas 1-3 feet apart depending on mature size. For hydrangeas, allow at least 2 feet between smaller plants and 4-6 feet for larger varieties.
- Plan aesthetics – Position plants to allow the beautiful hydrangea blooms to take center stage, using hostas to provide filler greenery and texture.
Taking the time to create optimal growing conditions gives both hydrangeas and hostas the best chance of developing into healthy, vigorous specimens within your garden.
Planting Hostas and Hydrangeas Together
Once you’ve prepped your garden site and selected your varieties, it’s time to get these beauties planted! Follow this step-by-step guide for transplanting success:
Prepare the Holes
- Dig each hole 2-3 times wider than the root ball of the plant. The depth should be equal to the current root mass.
- Space the holes 3-4 feet apart, allowing ample room between the plants. Group them aesthetically based on size, leaf color, and desired visual impact.
Plant the Hostas
- Carefully remove the hosta from its nursery pot, handling the roots gently to limit damage.
- Loosen any roots that seem dense or tightly wound to encourage outward growth.
- Place the plant in the hole so the top of the roots sit level with the ground.
- Backfill the hole with your enriched native soil, pressing firmly around the roots to eliminate air pockets.
- Water thoroughly until the soil is moist but not saturated.
Transplant the Hydrangeas
- Remove the shrub from its container, gently loosening any circling roots.
- Prune back up to 1/3 of the stems to reduce transplant shock.
- Place in the planting hole with the top of the root ball even with the ground level.
- Fill in around the shrub with prepared soil, watering well to settle the roots.
- Add a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around both plants, taking care not to pile it against the stems.
- Stake larger hydrangea varieties if needed for stabilization.
- Water the transplants consistently until they become established, providing 1-2 inches per week.
Follow this straightforward process, and your hostas and hydrangeas will soon be growing happily together in their new home!
Caring for Co-Planted Hostas and Hydrangeas
While hostas and hydrangeas thrive in similar conditions, providing ongoing care tailored to each plant’s needs is important for their health and performance. Here are some maintenance tips:
- Provide at least 1-2 inches of water per week from spring through fall, adjusted based on rainfall.
- Water at the base of plants instead of overhead to limit disease.
- Increase watering during dry periods to maintain moist (but not soggy) soil.
- Reduce watering in winter but provide occasional irrigation if soil becomes fully dry.
- Apply a balanced organic fertilizer or compost around both plants in early spring.
- For hydrangeas, use one with more phosphorus to promote lush blooms.
- Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers on hydrangeas, which can inhibit flowering.
- Hostas may benefit from a second application of fertilizer in midsummer.
- Prune spent hosta flower stems down to the base after blooming finishes.
- Remove wilted hosta leaves throughout the season.
- For hydrangeas, prune established plants in late winter, cutting back by 1/3 to 1/2.
- Prune only for shaping; never shear these plants into balls or boxes.
Pest and Disease Control
- Pick off slugs and snails by hand or trap them to avoid holes in hosta leaves.
- Monitor for fungal issues like leaf spot and get rid of affected foliage promptly.
- Prevent problems by providing good air circulation and proper watering.
By addressing the individual care needs of both plants, your hydrangeas and hostas will be able to put their best on display.
Achieving Aesthetic Appeal in the Garden
Beyond basic growing requirements, arranging your hostas and hydrangeas in an aesthetically pleasing composition requires a bit of garden planning and creative thinking. Here are some tips:
- Use the larger hosta varieties as dramatic background plantings to anchor the space.
- Plant the hydrangeas in front and alongside the hostas to showcase the colorful blooms.
- Shape the garden bed with sweeping curves, avoiding rigid lines.
- Alternate hydrangea and hosta groupings along the length of the bed.
- Frame focal points like a bench or piece of garden art with complementary plants.
- Edge the garden with lower-growing perennials like astilbe, ferns, or impatiens.
Take time to step back and evaluate the layout as you plant. Make adjustments as needed to create an eye-catching and cohesive planting scheme. A thoughtfully designed hydrangea and hosta garden is sure draw admiring glances!
Bringing It All Together: Final Thoughts on Planting Hostas and Hydrangeas
By following the recommendations in this comprehensive guide, you can successfully grow lush, healthy hydrangeas and hostas together in the same garden space. Pay close attention to sun exposure, soil preparation, plant selection, and watering needs when siting these companion plants. Allow enough room for the plants to mature, and arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing design for maximum visual impact. Maintain vigor through proper fertilization, pruning, and pest prevention. With the right hydrangea and hosta varieties sharing space in rich, moist soil and dappled sunlight, these easygoing perennials will thrive and add beauty to your garden for years to come. Embrace the journey of planting hostas and hydrangeas together, and enjoy the gorgeous results!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the ideal time to plant hostas and hydrangeas?
The best time to plant both is in early spring or fall when the weather is cool and rainfall plentiful. Avoid summer’s heat and winter’s freezing temps.
Should hostas and hydrangeas be fertilized differently?
Hydrangeas benefit from more phosphorus to promote blooms. Avoid high nitrogen on hydrangeas as it limits flowers. Hostas may need a midsummer nitrogen boost for healthy foliage.
How often should hostas and hydrangeas be watered together?
These companions need consistent moisture. Water 1-2 inches per week, increasing during drought and reducing in winter. Always water at the base to limit disease.
What mulch is best for planted hostas and hydrangeas?
An organic mulch like shredded bark or leaves maintains moisture and limits weeds. Apply 2-3 inches around plants, avoiding contact with stems and crowns.
Should I cut back hostas and hydrangeas in winter?
Trim spent hosta blooms. For hydrangeas, prune older stems by 1/3 to 1/2 in late winter to invigorate growth. Never shear these plants into balls or boxes.
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