Rhododendrons and azaleas make beautiful landscape plants. Their abundance of spring blossoms and distinctive foliage have made these shrubs popular choices among home gardeners. However, both of these plants require very specific growing conditions. These requirements can make it difficult to figure out what to plant with azaleas and rhododendrons.
What to Plant with Rhododendron and Azaleas
Light and pH compatibility are the keys to finding plants suitable as companions for azaleas and rhododendron. Like most members of this family, azaleas and rhododendron thrive in acidic soils. When choosing rhododendron and azalea companion plants, look for those that can tolerate a pH between 4.5 and 6.
Additionally, both of these shrubs prefer filtered light or afternoon shade. Rhododendrons and azaleas can often be found growing under the canopy of oaks or in the shade of pine. These trees also prefer acidic soils, making them ideal companions for azaleas and rhododendron.
If you prefer smaller plant species, like flowers and shrubs, choose companion plants that prefer partial shade.
Choosing Companions for Azaleas and Rhododendrons
In addition to finding companion plants that can thrive in the same growing conditions, gardeners should also consider what qualities they are looking for in these companion plants.
Do you want spring flowers that complement the azalea and rhododendron blossoms? Or do you prefer flowerbeds where something is always in bloom? This will influence the choice of flowering species you select for planting near rhododendrons and azaleas. Consider these spring flowers as companions for azaleas and rhododendrons:
Both azaleas and rhododendrons have attractive foliage that adds to the flowerbed’s appeal long after their spring blossoms have fallen. Consider choosing companions that have complementary leaf shapes, textures, and colors. Some ideas include:
- Caladiums contribute various hues of red, pink, and white with their stunning, arrowhead-shaped leaves.
- Ferns add woodland charm with their form and leaf texture. Plant shorter and taller species to fill in empty spaces in front and between shrubs.
- Hostas are invaluable accents to the perennial shade garden. Choose variegated varieties to add tones with white, yellow, and green.
Woody plants lend year-round substance to landscape designs. When choosing shrubs for planting near rhododendrons and azaleas, consider when and how they bloom, foliage type, and whether they’re deciduous or evergreen.
Here is a selection of shade-tolerant and acid-loving shrubs that make excellent rhododendron and azalea companion plants: