What Flowers to Plant with Boxwoods: Identify the Best Boxwood Companion Plants

Paul West/ Backyard Gardening

Boxwoods have long been a staple of elegant gardens due to their versatility, formal shaping, and year-round rich green foliage. Boxwood’s refined presence can be greatly enhanced by artfully combining them with the right companion plants.

The key is choosing flowering plants, perennials, annuals, and shrubs that not only complement boxwood’s aesthetic, but also have similar growth habits and requirements. With some thoughtful pairings, you can create stunning garden designs that marry boxwood’s stately attributes with vibrant bursts of color. This article will explore the best bloom choices for brightening up your boxwood anchors. At the end you will know what flowers to plant with boxwoods!

Why Thoughtfully Combine Plants?

There’s both an art and science behind thoughtfully combining plant species. Careful pairings can accentuate the strengths of each plant, create visual interest, and provide ecological services to support healthy growth. Here are some key benefits of companion planting with boxwoods:

  • Enhanced Beauty: Flowering plants with varied colors, textures, and heights can beautifully contrast and complement boxwood’s refined green backdrop. This results in a more dynamic and pleasing overall look.
  • Year-Round Appeal: By thoughtfully selecting perennials, annuals, and shrubs that bloom in different seasons, color and interest can be sustained year-round.
  • Growth Support: Plants grouped together can positively influence factors like shade, nutrients, and pest resistance to help each other thrive.
  • Ecological Services: A diverse community plants attracts more pollinators while also crowding out weeds.

Thoughtful companion planting takes boxwood’s inherent benefits as a versatile, full-bodied anchor plant and amplifies them with strategic enhancements. Let’s look at some of the best options.

Perennial Companion Plants

Perennials are plants that can endure for many growing seasons, providing hardy and recurring blooms. Here are some top perennial choices for pairing with boxwoods:


Peonies are a garden classic prized for their abundant, aromatic purple blooms every spring. Their flowers beautifully complement boxwood’s green backdrop. Peonies enjoy partial shade and moist, well-draining soil – conditions boxwoods also appreciate. Plant peonies in front or alongside boxwood foundation plantings, borders, and hedges. The peonies’ vibrancy contrasts the boxwoods’ refined presence.


Hostas are among the most popular perennials thanks to their versatility. They thrive in shade with moist, rich soil. Their large lance-shaped leaves come in varied hues of green, blue, and yellow. Small lavender bell-shaped flowers bloom on spikes in midsummer. Hostas are low maintenance, slug resistant, and deer resistant. Plant hostas around and in front of boxwoods to accent the boxwood’s rounded formal look with large, organic leaf shapes and sweeping height variations.


Delicate-looking ferns thrive in the same partial or full shade as boxwoods, serving as excellent ground cover companion plants. Varieties like autumn fern offer bronze color late in the season. The fine, lacy leaves of ferns contrast beautifully with the dense, rounded forms of boxwood. Underplant boxwood hedges, borders, and topiaries with ferns for texture and graceful softness.

Annuals for Boxwoods

Annuals last just one growing season but provide abundant color on a yearly basis with proper replanting. Some top annuals for pairing with boxwoods include:


Few annuals can match begonias for their colorful, abundant blooms throughout the growing season. Their tolerance to heat, shade, and periods of drought make them ideal companions to boxwoods. Plant them as a border in front of boxwood hedges or along walkways. Begonias offer vibrant pops of reds, oranges, pinks, yellows, and white.


Impatiens are another annual loved for their versatility and ability to bloom prolifically in shady areas. Their flowers come in white, pink, red, orange, purple and combinations. Impatiens will happily grow under the canopy of boxwoods that line porches, fences, and foundations. They provide lively color contrast and do not compete much for soil nutrients.


Hydrangeas have large, colorful blooms that cluster on succulent green stems. They prefer morning sun with afternoon shade and moist, well-drained soil, making them an excellent boxwood companion. Plant them in front of boxwood hedges and borders to provide varied height layers. Hydrangeas come in white, pink, purple, and blue varieties, with the flower color influenced by soil pH. They bloom spring through fall depending on the variety.

Design Ideas Using Boxwoods and Companion Plants

Now that we’ve covered some excellent plant pairings, here are design ideas for showcasing boxwoods with complementing blooms:

Borders and Hedges

One of the most common and attractive uses of boxwood is delineating garden spaces and creating privacy hedges. Combining low-growing annuals and perennials in front of the boxwood anchors provides color while maintaining the crisp lines. Good companion plants for borders and hedges include:

  • Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths for spring blooms
  • Geraniums, petunias, impatiens for summer color
  • Asters, chrysanthemums, and flowering kale for fall interest

Topiaries and Artistic Designs

Boxwoods are often trimmed into ornamental balls, spirals, and different animal shapes. Underplanting boxwood topiaries and sculptures with companions can accentuate the designs:

  • Thyme, chamomile, sedum – Low-growing herbs that release pleasing aromas when brushed against
  • Creeping Jenny, vinca minor – Trailing ground covers with small blooms
  • Crocuses, grape hyacinths – Early spring bulbs that don’t distract from shapes

Growing Strong Companion Plants

Achieving success combining boxwoods with companion plants relies on choosing pairings adapted to the same conditions. Here are some top tips for growth success:

  • Sunlight: Most varieties of boxwood tolerate partial sun to full shade. Select companion plants accordingly.
  • Soil: Well-draining, slightly acidic soil enriched with organic matter provides ideal conditions for boxwoods and most companions like ferns and begonias.
  • Water: Provide 1 inch of water per week. Avoid wet leaves which can promote disease. Deep water is better than frequent light watering.
  • Fertilizer: Apply an organic balanced fertilizer annually in early spring. Too much nitrogen can promote excessive leafy growth vulnerable to disease.
  • Pruning: Prune companion plants like hydrangeas and peonies after flowering. Prune boxwoods in early spring before growth resumes.
  • Pest/Disease Control: Practice proper spacing, cleanup of fallen leaves/debris, and oversight of irrigation to limit fungal issues. Pesticides generally should not be necessary.

Final Thoughts on Companion Planting with Boxwoods

The classic look of boxwoods can be enhanced by thoughtfully combining them with flowering perennials, annuals, herbs, and shrubs. Paying attention to sunlight, soil, moisture, and growth habits will allow you to create plant pairings that thrive and harmonize. Experiment, observe over seasons, and enjoy the journey of learning what works best in your unique garden environment. The efforts will pay off as you transform your boxwood anchors into living tapestries of color and form.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some Good Annuals To Plant With Boxwoods?

Many colorful annuals like petunias, marigolds, zinnias, and verbena pair nicely with boxwoods to provide vibrant pops of color that contrast well against the rich green backdrop. Annuals like impatiens, begonias, and coleus also thrive in shadier spots and can be underplanted around boxwoods. Choosing annuals that bloom in different seasons extends the color. Heat and drought tolerant annuals like vinca are also a good complement to boxwood’s resilient nature.

Should I Plant Boxwoods And Azaleas Together?

Azaleas and boxwoods can make excellent companion plants. Both prefer morning sun with afternoon shade and moist, acidic, well-draining soil. Azaleas bloom in spring with abundant colorful flowers in shades of pink, red, purple, white, and bi-colored hues. These flowers beautifully contrast against dark green boxwood foliage. Plant lower-growing azalea varieties in front of boxwood foundation hedges, borders, and property lines. Taller azaleas can be situated behind boxwood accents.

What Perennials Have White Blooms To Complement Boxwoods?

Several perennials with elegant white blooms pair nicely with boxwoods to provide crisp contrast. Astilbe, garden phlox, Shasta daisies, Russian sage, and baby’s breath all have lightly colored blooms that stand out against rich green boxwood backdrops. White roses, lilies, irises, and peonies also complement boxwood’s refined presence. Plant white flowering perennials in drifts among boxwood accents for cohesive color schemes.

Should I Use Chemical Pesticides On Boxwoods And Nearby Plants?

It’s best to avoid chemical pesticides when cultivating boxwoods and companion plants. Natural integrated pest management is safer for people, pets and pollinators. Instead, create optimal growing conditions and prune diseased parts. Remove fallen leaves where pests can hide. Use natural insecticidal soaps or oils. With good cultural practices, boxwoods and their companions should remain vigorous and mostly pest-free.

How Do I Choose The Best Boxwood Variety As A Garden Anchor?

Choose boxwood varieties like English, American, or Japanese that best suit your climate. Also consider mature size to fit the space. ‘Green Velvet’ and ‘Green Mountain’ are two excellent hedge/border varieties. For ornamental shapes, ‘Green Gem’ works well. The classic ‘English’ boxwood provides a full, formal look. Getting the ideal boxwood variety will allow you to then find great companion plants to match its growing needs.

Further Reading

Paul West
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About Paul West

Longstanding and passionate about really having family fun in the backyard. I'm no expert but I've picked up a thing or two along the way!