There are 30 companion plants for nandinas in this list from ornamental evergreens to trees and even berries. Adding companions for nandinas to your garden is the best way to guarantee harmonious co-existing and growth.
Carefully selected companion plants do an incredible job at complementing nandina in their growth and appearance. Noted for its colorful foliage and red berries, nandina, heavenly bamboo, or sacred bamboo, adds an unusual interest to your outdoor space.
This eastern Asia native is grown for its beautiful foliage, white blossoms, and berry display. The semi-evergreen shrub usually develops color-changing foliage throughout the seasons, transforming from pink or red to green, and purple, bronze, or red.
Combined with its leaf shape and colorful berries, the plant can be merged with other varying companion plant textures, colors, shapes, and sizes for a truly unique ornamental garden look. We’ve put together a complete list of the best plants to complement nandina in your garden so you can start on your garden beautifying project.
Table of Contents
You should pair nandina with its companion plants for their ornamental value. For the most part, nandina companionship doesn’t offer common benefits, such as promoting growth and repelling pests. A naturally hardy plant and resistant to many pests, nandina usually adds texture, unique shape, and incredible fall and winter colors to the garden.
So, when paired with its companion plants, the pairing helps to further accentuate the garden’s ornamental value. Whether planted as hedges, backdrops for smaller plants, anchors, or borders, nandina, and its companion plants never disappoint when it comes to their decorative garden function.
Nandina pairs well with similar evergreen ornamental plants such as boxwood. You can also plant the shrub with showy flowering plants, such as camellias, hellebores, petunias, and carnations. This pairing helps to create a perfect color match and a beautiful garden fragrance (for fragranced flowers). Additionally, nandina pairs well with a variety of ornamental grass, like feather reed and little bluestem.
Ideally, you want to plant nandinas with plants that grow in similar conditions. But, ensure that these potential companion plants don’t compete for resources with the shrub. The semi-evergreen shrub thrives in full sun to partial shade, growing in well-drained soils.
Growing under full sun, however, does better for their appearance as it allows them to display colors better. On the other hand, growing nandina in shaded areas may result in poor growth and color. More established plants can tolerate some starvation and full shade. They will even develop good color in fall, but shed more leaves.
The shrub prefers fertile, well-drained soils, like sand, clay, or loamy, with a pH of 3.7 to 6.4 (acidic). Further, nandinas thrive in hardiness zones 6 to 10 and can relatively tolerate frost and humidity. However, nandinas don’t do so well and can easily die in soggy or wet soil.
Instead, they tolerate moist soils with little watering when established. The ornamental shrub also benefits from little fertilizer with adequate watering. Concentrated levels of fertilizer will most certainly burn its roots.
Nandina pairs incredibly well with a long list of plants, in addition to similar evergreen and flowering plants. Here is a full list of potential plants to pair with nandina in your garden.
1. Mix and Match Different Nandina Cultivars
There are over 60 varieties of nandina you can add to the garden. Each variety comes with its unique feature, whether height, shape, color, or size. The best part of pairing these varieties is you can find different types that complement one another pretty well.
For instance, the Nandina Domestica variety comes in different heights with different leaf sizes and colors. The tall variety grows to about 6 feet or shorter and with multiple stems and layered branches. You can plant the larger sizes as hedges. These taller hedges can then act as backdrops to smaller potted varieties.
Alternatively, you can use the taller traditional Nandina Domestica as a backdrop and pair it with new compact varieties in the middle ground. Varieties like the Nandina Lemon Lime are great compact varieties for adding texture and color. You can also put them in containers or pots to create striking evergreen focal points.
For many gardeners, planting nandina alone may not be enough to truly create a stand-out garden. So, after choosing your ideal cultivars, add other plant types to complete the look.
Similar Ornamental Evergreens
The slow-growing broadleaf evergreen boxwood looks completely different from its name. It has a compact and rounded shape with densely packed light green leathery leaves. This look makes them great as hedges, although it fits anywhere in your garden. Surviving through winter, boxwood is an excellent plant to pair with nandina which also survives through winter.
Further, like nandina, they prefer well-drained, moist soils and partially shaded to sunny areas. Add color to your garden by incorporating nandina against the dark green backdrop of boxwood. You can even pot the latter for a more stylish look.
Crotons are perennial evergreen shrubs, popular for their bold tropical foliage. In fact, these shrubs are popular in warmer areas, like Florida and also grow well as houseplants. Nonetheless, these small shrubs pair well with nandina to create dramatic hedges and focal points with a lush and colorful appearance.
4. Variegated Ginger
Also known as shell ginger, butterfly ginger, or pink porcelain lily, these perennial evergreens are noted for their delicate light coral to light pink blossoms. In fact, their name, pink porcelain lily best describes the elegant flowers. The perennials pair well with nandina as their colorful funnel-shaped flowers add a chic interest to the garden.
Firespike is an herbaceous perennial plant that grows bright red tubular flowers in a large showy spiky shape. This plant doesn’t only add an extra layer of texture and color. Its striking summer-to-fall blooming flowers also do a great job of attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. You can grow a firespike in containers or garden beds as landscape accents.
6. Tree Philodendron
Also known as the lacy tree or split-leaf philodendron, this landscape plant is a popular subtropical and warm temperate native. It pairs perfectly with nandina, thanks to its striking appearance. The evergreen plant resembles a large-sized and more dramatically looking monstera. The plant grows huge and deeply lobed leaves that remain green all year round.
Now, pair them with nandina to create that perfect color, texture, and shape contrast. Whether planted indoors or outdoors, philodendron also comes with environmental quality-boosting properties. It helps to purify the air, allowing for healthier surroundings. Plus, it is pretty flexible and can be planted on the ground or in a pot.
7. Variegated Pittosporum
As its name suggests, variegated pittosporum or Japanese mock orange develops a unique and highly detailed texture and patterns that form its variegated leaf foliage. This compact evergreen shrub creates beautiful depth in your garden when planted with the equally uniquely textured nandina.
You will also love its small white flowers and intoxicating orange blossom fragrance that are prominent during spring through fall. These companions thrive best as borders, hedges, foundation planting, or accent plants.
Loropetalum is one of the best companion plants for nandina if you are looking for texture contrast. This may be controversial for some gardeners, arguing that the plants have almost similar appearances. After all, the purple foliage of Loropetalum and the red foliage of nandina almost fall under the same shade category.
However, pairing the right cultivars can help you craft a remarkable garden look. The evergreen plant’s round purple leaf foliage creates a visually attractive ensemble paired with a finer textured nandina cultivar.
9. Coral Bells
Coral bell grows one of the most striking leaf foliage with unique colors, textures, and shapes. You’d think eclectic fall foliage color is that of flowers at first glance. Add coral bells where nandina is growing the garden, focusing on the shaded parts where this evergreen plant thrives the most. You will be more than impressed with the bright fall colors you achieve.
Nandina grows harmoniously with a generous number of flowering plants. The Mexico native, Jatropha or coral plant is one of them. This flowering plant grows coral pink flowers with tropical-looking, fan-shaped leaf foliage that complements nandina. Jatropha also makes an excellent hedge plant.
11. Pinwheel Jasmine
Pinwheel jasmine resembles the delicate white flowers of traditional jasmine. But, as the name suggests, its blossoms form a decorative pinwheel pattern to add a charming appeal. This beautiful evergreen flowering plant grows as a shrub with bold and bright green foliage to highlight its white blossoms even better.
Pairing pinwheel jasmine with nandina helps to further highlight the beautiful blossoms. Unfortunately, pinwheel jasmine doesn’t exude the intoxicating fragrance that traditional jasmine flowers produce.
12. Maui Ixora
Maui Ixora is a summer-loving dwarf evergreen shrub that pairs well with nandina in different garden planting styles. The evergreen shrub grows sprawling clusters of bright orange flowers highlighted against the dark green foliage. Planting Maui Ixora with nandina creates a vibrant pop of color, transforming a flat outdoor space into a lively garden.
13. Bush Allamanda
Bush allamanda offers a taller shrubby plant that is opposite to the shorter Maui Ixora. This bushy shrub plant extends to about 8.2 feet tall and is adorned with deep golden yellow flowers for a shiny garden. The ornamental plant even grows fragrant flowers to add more interest to the garden and attract more pollinators. Planting them with nandina creates a unique and attention-grabbing color and texture contrast.
Hellebore and nandina hold a special connection as companion plants. While the former grows showy green, white, pink, or ruby blossoms, they closely resemble nandina’s leaf foliage. So, planting the two plants together creates an ornamental synergy with vibrant blossoms and foliage from spring through fall.
The two plants thrive in slightly different zones with hellebore tolerating full shade. Nonetheless, with a little creativity, you can incorporate the two plants for an elegant garden look.
When it comes to pairing petunias and nandina, they make great background plants. Petunias also effortlessly match most nandina cultivar color themes. These annuals grow funnel-shaped flowers in many variations, including waved, curled, and doubled.
They also have different colors, ranging from pink to red, purple, lavender, peach, cream, yellow, and white. Planting these annuals in your garden extends a long blooming period from spring through the early frost period.
In addition to their similar growing conditions, carnations easily complement the colors of most nandina cultivars. They also make excellent backdrop plants for nandina. These flowering plants grow small to medium blossoms with flat, broad, or oblong serrated petals.
Carnations also come in a variety of colors, including white, yellow, pink, red, and scarlet. These beautiful puffy blossoms appear in your garden from late spring through early fall.
Like other flowering plants, snapdragons complement nandina for their beautiful blossoms and similar growing conditions. These flowering plants grow slightly unique flower arrangements. They protrude at the top to form a narrow tubular lower lip and a wide-opening upper lip to resemble a dragon.
The flowers also grow to form dense flower spikes in a variety of colors, including pink, red, and orange. Pairing these equally uniquely shaped, textured, and colored plants is guaranteed to steal the show with your garden.
The elegant camellia grows in shrub bushes with dark green foliage and red, purple, or white blossoms from winter through spring. So, adding them to your garden adds a few extra weeks of garden interest. The bright colors of the blossoms blend pretty well with the colorful nandina.
However, nandina also plays a complementing role to highlight the more show-stealing bright flowers of the plant. Camellia prefers fully shaded areas. So, you can always plant them as a backdrop to the nandina where they will enjoy more shade.
Hydrangeas and nandina grow in similar conditions, thriving in the same soil type and sunlight exposure times. The spring-to-fall blooming flowering plants also pair well with nandina, thanks to the variety of colors it offers. Unlike other limiting flowering plants, the vast range of hydrangea color options allows you to choose the ideal variety to pair with the nandina cultivar you have in your garden.
Roses and nandina grow in similar conditions and complement each other well. The rose bushes produce beautiful and fragranced red flowers with waxy green foliage that blends well with nandina. The striking nandina foliage even accentuates the abundant rose flowers.
Add bulbs, such as daffodils in between nandina in your garden for an elegant early spring-to-summer pop of color. The flowering plants grow in shrubs with a similar height to nandina for a much-needed balance.
These blossoms come in a selection of bright yellow, orange, pink, or white to choose from. Alternatively, you can mix and match the colors for an even more dramatic look.
You can extend the beautiful pop of color daffodils offered by adding marigolds to the mix. Marigolds usually blossom from summer through fall, adding a puffy texture with bold orange, yellow, to mahogany hues to the garden.
For even longer periods of vibrant colors in the garden, add pansies or viola tricolor. As the name suggests, these plants develop tri colored blossoms, which include yellow, purple, lavender, brown, orange, and white in different styles. Pansies usually bloom from winter through spring.
Nandina also pairs well with trees, growing as ground cover. Among the best tree options to grow with nandina are the coniferous junipers. Varying in size, junipers grow between 66 and 131 feet tall in columnar or low-spreading shrubs. The evergreen trees also grow green needle-like leaves with red-brown to orange berries. As a bonus, you also get a good supply of fresh juniper berries right from your garden.
25. Dwarf Birch
The hardy dwarf birch and nandina complement each other, providing size and color contrast. The spring flowering tree grows long and thin branches that develop equally interesting fall foliage colors. The colors range from yellow to green and form a beautiful contrast against the red nandina foliage.
26. Low growing succulents
Planting nandina with ornamental grass is another excellent way to add height and texture contrast to your garden. The best part is you can pick between different ornamental grass options. Generally, the evergreen nandina does well in foliage colors and elegant blossoms. But, this is as far as it goes.
Adding ornamental grass adds more character to the lower to ground-level parts of the garden. A good example of ornamental grass that pairs well with nandina is low-growing succulent varieties, such as common houseleek. This type of ornamental grass adds pretty distinctive colors, textures, and shapes.
27. Small Ornamental Grass Varieties
Varieties such as Japanese sedges tend to have a more tufted growing tendency. They feature thin and long dark green foliage with a frosty white edge. They are particularly great at highlighting nandina while their texture creates a natural edging. Alternatively, you can go for blue-eyed grass which adds a beautiful blooming component, thanks to its delicate clusters or star-shaped violet-blue flowers.
28. Red Currant
Berries also make good companion plants for nandina. Berries benefit from nandina well beyond its ornamental value. You can pair berries, such as red currant with select nandina cultivars that act as trellis or support. Cultivars, such as old-fashioned nandina allow the redcurrant shrubs to lean on them to produce their berries.
During harvest time, you will love the red-to-pink berry color that blends with the red nandina foliage. Further, nandina also provides red currants with much-needed shade, especially during the summer season. This is because berries usually prefer cool temperatures.
Tip: If you use nandina as support, get extra support for the plant, especially when red currant berries begin to appear. This prevents the weight of the berries from weakening the nandina structure.
Cocoplum is another valuable companion berry plant for nandina, valued for its ornamental and fruit-bearing abilities. Cocoplum produces edible berries you can use to craft your own jams and jellies at home.
But, in the garden, this Florida native berry plant also comes with a unique ornamental appeal. It features small white waxy flowers that bloom during spring and achieve a unique texture and foliage. Pair cocoplum with nandina to achieve a tropical beach look in your garden.
Huckleberry also grows with nandina for a beautiful visual contrast. Like nandina, huckleberry also produces beautiful foliage colors and small colorful flower clusters. The berry plant is also noted for its abundant berry supply and even serves as a food source for birds and insects in your garden. But, if you want more bright colors in your garden, you want to add perennials or annuals to this companionship.
Worst Companion Plants for Nandina
There really isn’t a standard list of plants to avoid pairing with nandina. Listing plants that may not be the best companions may take days. Instead, you want to follow two essential categories when determining whether or not you should add the plant to your nandina garden.
First, examine the plant’s growing needs. For instance, water-loving plants may not be the best option to pair with nandina. Remember, soggy or wet soils easily kill the plant. Similarly, you want to observe other features, such as soil requirements, exposure to sunlight, and even hardiness zones they can survive.
You will notice that some companion plants don’t exactly boast the same hardiness zone range as nandina. However, you will notice an overlap. For instance, nandina survives in hardiness zones 6 to 10. But, you can still pair it with a plant that survives hardiness zones 8 to 12. Another factor to consider is subjective and is dependent on your preferences.
Most companion plants for nandina pair well with the plant for their ornamental value. So, when picking a plant to pair with these semi-evergreen shrubs, you want to first consider if they will make sense and look visually pleasing paired together. Not all plants visually complement nandina. For example, you want to avoid pairing nandina with plants with similar foliage colors, although there may be a few exceptions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the Best Place to Plant Nandina in My Garden?
The best place to grow nandina in the garden is where it gets access to full sun. While the plant can survive partial shade, exposure to full sun boosts their appearance allowing them to develop the best foliage color.
What Conditions to Avoid When Growing Nandina?
You should avoid growing nandina in soggy or wet soil as this will easily kill their roots and ultimately, the entire plant. Nandina also doesn’t do well in non-drained soils and alkaline conditions.
Are All Nandina Colorful?
Nandina usually develops different colors as the seasons change. They start with a bright glossy green color during spring and summer and transition to deep red or burgundy during winter.
Adding companion plants for nandina in your garden primarily comes with ornamental benefits. So, if you are looking for a way to beautify and add life to your garden, this is the best approach. With a versatile collection of plants to choose from, you can pick the direction you want to go. Whether you want to play with textures, colors, sizes, heights, or both, the right companion plants will let you do so.
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