Brighten your garden this spring with our insightful guide on the best companion plants for tulips. Tulips, revered for their elegance and range of hues and petal styles, can dramatically enhance your garden’s aesthetics.
While these charming blooms can indeed captivate on their own, they truly shine when paired with suitable companion plants. These pairings not only spotlight the tulips’ beauty more effectively but also compensate for their relatively short bloom time, ensuring your garden stays vibrant.
Understand the significance of these companions and their contribution towards sustaining your garden’s allure outside of tulips’ mid to late-spring bloom period.
Our comprehensive guide provides a list of ideal companion plants for tulips, coupled with practical advice on why each plant is a stellar choice and how best to integrate them into your garden. Irrespective of your gardening experience, this guide is a valuable resource for tulip companion planting.
Now, discover the beauty of tulips thriving in full sun and learn how to create a perennial garden with gorgeous flowers that complement your tulip blooms throughout the spring season.
Table of Contents
Why Pair Tulips with Companion Plants?
Choosing great companion plants for tulips ensures a visual impact with a variety of flower shapes and different types of foliage, creating a vibrant garden space.
When paired with the right companion plant, the bright-colored bulbiferous tulips create a beautiful mixed display with contrasting colors, textures, and foliage. Different companion plants come with their own characteristic ornamental value to add to your garden. But, this is not all that a tulip companion plant offers in your garden.
Here are other reasons why you should consider pairing tulips with companion plants in your garden;
Successive Planting, Covering Dying Leaves, and Filling Up Blank Places
Tulips generally bloom for a short period, anywhere between mid and late spring. Adding companion plants to your tulips helps to complement your landscape after this blooming time. This creates a wonderful overlap with the tulips blooming time to ensure your garden never looks dull.
After all, after the blooming time, the tulip foliage remains green until June to July. After this period, the leaves will begin to wither and ultimately, die. This leaf foliage plays a crucial role in creating food to feed the underground bulb of the tulips.
With proper feeding, you can guarantee your tulips growing back in good health and abundance in the next season. To allow for this process without giving your garden an ugly browning look as the foliage diminishes, it’s a good idea to surround the tulips with more visually appealing companion plants.
These plants do a good job of covering up the unappealing leaf foliage parts of the flowering plant. Whether you consider your tulips annuals or perennials, it doesn’t hurt to practice this in your garden. If your tulips act as perennials, you are guaranteed a healthy reemergence next season.
If it acts as an annual, you can always use this technique as successive planting, by incorporating other equally visually pleasing perennials. Our personal favorites are summer blooming perennials as they continue to maintain your garden interest well into summer and even fall. Good examples of summer blooming perennials include the Shasta daisy, geranium, lavender, coreopsis, and phlox, to name a few.
Another advantage to planting companion plants to conceal diminishing leaf foliage is how they preserve the tulips. As the leaves die off in summer and the plant goes into dormancy, you want to keep it as dry as possible. Surrounding tulips with companion plants allows the companion plants to soak up any excess moisture in the soil. If the companion plants have large leaves, they also shield the tulips from rain or sunlight.
Protection from Large Animals
Tulips very easily fall prey to large animals when they are not properly protected. Deer, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and even mice love tulips and will chew on the blossoms or dig up to consume the entire bulb.
Choosing your companion plants strategically can help to naturally eliminate this problem. Surround tulips with plants that repel these animals to protect them. Alternatively, you can pair them with less visually important plants to deter the animals from these plants and keep your tulips safe.
What Are The Best Companion Plants for Tulips?
Flowering perennials and annuals, ground-covering plants, and native woodland flowers are among the best companion plants for tulips. Flowering herbs, evergreen perennials, and ornamental grass also make great tulip companion plants.
Tulips are easy-growing blossoms that pair with a long list of viable plants. They really don’t have many requirements as long as the potential plants can survive in similar conditions. Tulips thrive in direct sunlight (for at least 6 hours a day) and love fast-draining soils. These conditions help to harness the best blooming display.
Further, tulips love soil with ph levels of 6.0 to 6.5. However, they don’t do so well in heavy clay or poorly drained soils as their roots tend to root in these conditions. Similarly, frequent watering and fertilizing can rot the roots of the blossoms. This explains why tulips don’t grow well near water-loving and thirsty plants.
Tips for Growing Tulips with their Companion Plants
Plan your garden to ensure tulips and their companions, thriving in well-drained soil, receive adequate full sun to promote the first blooms of tulip companions under deciduous trees, signaling the arrival of spring flowers.
Take note of the height to prevent the companion plants from overshadowing the tulips. As a general rule of thumb, the plants should cover the foliage part of the tulips while allowing the flower bulbs to shine. Additionally, to reduce disturbance to the flowers, avoid flowering perennials that require frequent division.
As mentioned earlier, tulips grow well with a variety of plant types. These include fellow bulbiferous perennials, other ornamental perennials, annuals, ground-covering plants, native woodlands, and even ornamental grass.
Here’s a full list of the best companion plants for tulips and why they are a perfect choice;
Perennials: Fellow Bulbs
These low-maintenance plants are a great choice for adding height and different colors to your garden beds, offering protection from hungry critters.
Also known as ornamental onions, alliums feature a striking globe-shaped flower ball with lovely purple, pink, red, or white shades. Its leafless stem grows tall leading down to the equally attractive green leaf foliage. Growing to about 4 feet tall, alliums do an incredible job at complementing tulips.
The two bulbiferous perennials create a wonderful color, texture, and shape contrast while their bright shades give life to your garden. Pairing alliums and tulips also guarantees an extended colorful garden interest, thanks to their interloping blooming periods. Alliums appear just when tulips are about to fade.
Blooming for up to four weeks, the allium blossoms appear from late spring to early summer. Alliums are also part of the plant group with the same name, which also consists of onions, spring onions, and garlic. These plants are known to develop a pungent aroma that helps to deter a wide range of insects and animals. These include tulip-loving rodents and deer.
Tip: You can replace alliums with other members of the allium family if you want tulips to take center stage. Plants, like spring or green onions, grow long and slender green leaves that do an equally excellent job at concealing tulip leaves as they fade during the summer period. On the other hand, during the tulip blooming period, the concentrated green foliage helps to accentuate and highlight the colorful tulip blossoms. Plus, you will have an endless supply of edible onions for your stews and salads.
They act as a foolproof method to deter pests, making them ideal companions for tulips in new bulbs plantings.
Growing in pink, purple, red, yellow, or white shades grow daffodils with tulips for an elegant garden look. In fact, daffodils and tulips offer a wide variety of flower shades, making them easy to pair based on your preferences.
For instance, the bright yellow daffodils pair incredibly well with the pink, purple, red, or white tulips. Tulips and daffodils also grow to the same height for the perfect color and shape contrast. However, daffodils are early bloomers, while tulips grow in early to late spring.
Daffodils typically bloom from February to May. So, when you grow them with tulips and summer bloomers, you can guarantee almost all year-round interest in your garden. Another advantage to pairing daffodils and tulips is that the former is highly effective at deterring tulip-loving mice, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and deer.
Note: most daffodils growing in the southern hemisphere bloom much later on in the fall season.
Hyacinths, with their eye-catching star-shaped flowers, make a stunning contrast against the single petals of tulips, thriving in good drainage conditions.
Incorporating them into your tulip gardens adds a depth of sweet fragrance aroma. Hyacinths grow in a unique cluster of micro blossoms in blue, purple, lavender, hot pink, light pink and white shade.
So, they pair with tulips to form a wonderful display of bright colors. For the ultimate dramatic setup, pair similar shades of tulips and hyacinths in multiple color clusters. Hyacinths also blossom around the same time as tulips to guarantee that wonderful display of colors.
It is also worth noting the critter-repelling abilities hyacinths possess. Secreting a toxic alkaloid, hyacinths repel most insects and animals, making them useful to plant near tulips.
4. Grape Hyacinth
While they have almost similar names, grape hyacinths, and true hyacinths have vast differences. While they both bloom around the same period and share a common name, these two flowers belong to two different families.
Also known as Muscari, grape hyacinth belongs to the Asparagaceae family while true hyacinth belongs to the Liliaceae or spruce family. Unlike true hyacinths, Muscari blossoms grow in small bell-shaped and grape-like flower clusters. You will also notice that grape hyacinth blossoms are more slender with a small and tighter flower cluster.
They also come in majority blue shades, although you can find a few white, pink, and yellow options. Nonetheless, Muscari equally adds interest and a sweet grape-like fragrance to your tulip garden, making it a worthy addition. The smaller grape-shaped blossoms make perfect borders in contrast to the taller tulips.
Commonly known as crown imperials, fritillaria adds a unique textural and color interest, thanks to its unusual look. The early spring bloomer grows an eye-catching flower shape that complements tulips for an attractive garden look. Crown imperials also emanate a not-so-pleasant odor. But, the best part is that it is undetectable to the human nose. Yet, it is very effective at repelling tulip-nibbling critters.
Crocus is an early spring bloomer, appearing well before the snow melts. The delicate flowers are pretty small and feature a tube-shaped look in purple, yellow, pink, and white hues. They pair well with the spring-blooming tulips, with the crocus serving as space fillers and borders.
Crocuses are also sun-loving and hate too much water. So, they will do just fine near your tulips. If you are looking for a wonderful and dramatic opener for your tulips, the earlier blooming crocus is a fantastic option.
The color of the rainbow in peonies complements the different colors of tulips, both requiring similar needs for successful growth.
Peonies feature a completely different look from tulips. They boast a fluffier flower look with layers of petals that give them their signature chic appearance. They also come in a variety of elegant shades, including white, soft pink, light pink, hot pink, purple, burgundy, lavender, and yellow, to name a few.
If you want to create a classic cottage garden setting, peonies should certainly be on the list. The best part of adding peonies to your garden is that you can extend the blooming season. Incorporate different peony varieties to enjoy a long blooming period from late March to late June.
8. Bigroot Geraniums
Geraniums come in many varieties, but the bigroot variety is one of the best to pair with tulips. These smaller geranium varieties boast a light flower shade accentuated but their deep green foliage. Its ground-covering nature creates a perfect blanket for the fading tulip leaf foliage in summer.
It also highlights the bright blossoms in spring. While covering the dying tulip foliage, the bigroot geraniums will be highlighting their own beautiful blossoms during the summer period.
Late spring to early summer bloomers, such as Iris, create a perfect color continuation in your garden. Iris grows tall stems of showy blue to purple blossoms in an attention-grabbing shape and delicate texture.
So, while the tulips fade, adding iris guarantees new growth that offers a continuance of life to your garden. The fast and ground-covering new growth of the iris also offers the perfect cover to camouflage the drying tulip bulbs and leaf foliage – highlighting nature’s spectacular transition of life.
Azaleas, with their shrubby perennial nature, provide a layered look next to the bulb foliage of tulips.
Also known as Rhododendrons, azalea’s bright display of colors pairs well with the spring bulbous and equally bright tulips. Azaleas come in a variety of colorful shades, including red, pink, purple, and white flower hues. So, you can pair them with most tulip shades for a burst of colors.
Choosing the right azalea variety can also extend your garden’s interest and blooming period. You can choose varieties, such as Perfecto Mundo. This reblooming azalea variety blooms from spring to fall.
Despite their name, daylilies are not true lilies. Instead, they are a member of the Asphodelaceae family. Daylilies get their name from the behavior of their blossoms. Yet, these blossoms still enjoy a long blooming period, for about a month.
A daylily flower typically blooms for a day before being replaced by a new one. Daylilies feature a beautiful elongated and trumpet-shaped flower design and traditionally boast yellow petal shades. But, newer daylily varieties come in a selection of red, pink, purple, and white.
Planting daylilies with tulips allows you to enjoy successive blooming periods. While tulips bloom mid to late spring, daylilies blossom from late spring to mid-summer. Furthermore, daylilies tend to grow taller than tulips. Therefore, the new daylily growth guarantees reliable camouflaging for the slowly fading tulips and their foliage.
Baptisia or false indigo features a dramatic and eye-catching look with long stems that grow multiple layers of white, pink, or purple blossoms. Their tall height, bright and delicate blossoms, and slender build make them a great pair for tulips. In fact, baptisia generally blossoms during late spring to early summer just when tulips begin to fade.
So, the tall and flower-rich nature of the plant comes in handy in shielding the fading tulip blossoms and foliage. Baptisia blooms for about a month and a half, well into fall, extending the period of garden interest.
These native perennials are also drought tolerant, creating the perfect environment for the tulip foliage to manufacture food for the next year’s tulip bulbs. On the other hand, its deer-resistant habit protects tulips as well.
13. Shasta Daisy
Shasta daisy doesn’t only camouflage dying tulips. They also significantly extend the garden blooming period. Shasta daisies bloom during early to mid-summer, just the perfect time when tulip foliage is about to die. Now, there is a wide range of perennials that can do the camouflaging job.
But, what makes Shasta daisies special is their dark green leathery foliage that naturally fills around the dying tulip foliage. On the other hand, their vibrant white flowers appear at just the right time when the garden desperately needs a pop of color.
Coneflowers or Echinacea are just as sun-loving and survive in similar conditions as tulips, requiring little watering and well-drained soils. When paired with tulips, these blossoms don’t only complement the bulbiferous flowers.
They remain blooming even after the flowers and foliage of tulips die off. Coneflowers continue blooming towards the end of the summer, allowing their blossoms and foliage to effortlessly cover up the dying tulips.
Columbine grows bell-shaped flowers in a variety of fun color shades, including purple, red, orange, yellow, and multi-colored varieties. So, they give garden enthusiasts a generous selection to pick from based on their preferences.
When grown with tulips, they create a beautiful contrast of colors, shapes, and textures. Columbine also blooms through summer, leaving your garden looking presentable as the blossoms and foliage shields the dying tulips.
16. Virginia Bluebells
Virginia bluebells grow blue-colored whimsical bell-shaped blossoms highlighted by their long leaf foliage. The low-maintenance perennials grow incredibly well with tulips, planted in slightly shaded areas.
However, you want to pair Virginia bluebells and tulips with other shade lovers, like the evergreen hosta. This allows the garden to still maintain a presentable look and prevent “emptiness” when tulips and bluebells die off in summer.
Also known as eastern bluestar or simply bluestar, amsonia grows a dense cluster of beautiful blue flowers in spring to early summer and characteristic golden foliage in fall. But, during the blooming period, the plant’s deep leathery green foliage does an incredible job of accentuating the bright angelic flowers perched atop the foliage.
When paired with tulip, the native perennial guarantees 3 seasons of interest for your garden. Since bluestar grows taller than tulips, the deer-deterring plant works great as a backdrop for tulips in your garden. For a more artistic gardener design, incorporate other perennials and spring bulbs to the mix, such as bluebells, iris, and alliums.
Growing as either annuals or perennials, nasturtiums come as low-growing bushes, trailing or climbing plants. This allows you to design your garden the way you want. For instance, if you want to keep your tulips near a fence, the nasturtiums fill up the backdrop, adding a pop of bright orange, yellow, and green colors against the tulips.
Alternatively, you can plant the trailing nasturtiums along tulips, letting the former act as a colorful carpet while filling empty spaces around the tulips. The trailing nasturtiums’ thick and full ground covering nature also allows them to effectively shield tulips during their fading season.
Nasturtiums will not steal the show from your tulips, either. Instead, they extend the garden interest, thanks to their early summer to fall blooming period. Nasturtiums also serve as edible flowers, adding beauty and a peppery taste to your dishes. So, you are guaranteed a free supply when you pair them with tulips.
19. Bleeding Heart
Bleeding hearts or dicentra possess just as dramatic of an appearance as their name. This spectacular plant grows puffy heart-shaped flowers with two delicate rose pink outer petals, two white inner petals, and drooping white stamens that protrude from the bottom.
So, when paired with tulips, they create a gorgeous and out-of-this-world look. You can pair them with hot pink tulips, purple tulips, white tulips, yellow tulips, or both for a gorgeous garden appearance. Blooming in late spring, bleeding heart maintains life in your garden just as the tulips are about to fade.
Their plentiful foliage also does a good job of filling up blank spots between the tulips. But, like tulips, bleeding hearts also die during summer. So, you have to pair them with other summer-blooming plant options. Alternatively, you can add dramatic evergreens to the mix, such as Heuchera and Hosta.
20. Heartleaf Foamflower
Due to their typical short stature, heartfelt foamflower or Tiarella cordifolia grows beautifully underneath your tulips as a space filler or border plant. The herbaceous perennial grows lobed heart-shaped leaves at its base with hairy stalks that climb up from the base. The perennials also produce fluffy white flowers growing along their stalks from spring to summer. To give equal attention to the blossoms, combine a bold-colored tulip variety with the white Tiarella.
Wallflower is a low-growing and mounding herbaceous perennial that produces bright-colored spring blossoms. The flowers come in a selection of pink, purple, crimson, blue, or chocolate shades. The drought-tolerant flowers are perfect for rock gardens although they work in other settings, growing as border and infill plants.
While wallflowers and tulips grow beautifully on their own, you can layer them with other interesting plants. For instance, you can create a focal display of color by pairing various tulip color varieties and wall flowers with multiple ferns as backdrops and fillers.
22. Annual Honesty
Also known as Lunaria annua, the fast-growing annual honesty, silver dollar, or money plant grows beautiful small deep purple to white 4-petaled flowers against their glossy green foliage during mid to late spring to early summer. Around mid-summer, the flowers are replaced with translucent and round flat seed pods that resemble silvery coins. Their natural climbing habit makes them incredible borders or backdrops against the bold-colored spring-blooming tulips.
23. Lady’s Mantle
Lady’s mantle grows large uniquely round and pleated-shaped leaves that effectively accentuate the bold and bright-colored tulips. These old-fashioned and adaptable European garden perennials also grow equally unusual chartreuse flowers with silvery gray lobed leaves that have silvery hair. If you are looking for a unique tulip companion, you can’t go wrong with lady’s mantle.
Also known as primrose, primula adds a wonderful color and shape contrast when paired with tulips. These complex perennials grow spherical flower umbels on stout stems that form a rosette of leaves. Their flowers can be anything from white and purple to pink, red, yellow, or blue in shade.
Primula typically blooms from spring to late summer. However, you can find other varieties that bloom at different times. So, to guarantee all year-round interest, pair your tulips with different primula varieties.
25. Butterfly Bush
A generous amount of woody perennials make incredible companions for tulips as well. Butterfly bush is among the best woody perennials to pair with tulips. This woody perennial features a magical growth of flowers against its long leathery green foliage.
The fast-growing deciduous shrub features long and jagged edged opposite growing leaves with upright spiked or drooping white, blue, purple, pink, orange, yellow, or reddish-purple flower clusters at the end of their branches.
Due to their bushy growth, butterfly bushes offer excellent camouflaging for dormant spring bulbs during summer. They are also a fantastic companion for tulips as they allow them to shine during the spring. During this time, the butterfly bush stems are usually bare, allowing the tulips to effortlessly show their beauty growing underneath the bushes.
Instead, the bushes bloom from midsummer to early fall when the tulips are long faded. During the blooming period, their leaves unfurl, helping to shield off browning tulip foliage. While butterfly bushes look beautiful with tulips growing underneath, you can turn your garden into an artistic display of colors, shapes, and textures by adding other spring bulb varieties. These include options such as snowdrops, Muscari, and crocus, to name a few.
26. Dwarf Lilac
Dwarf lilac is a vision to behold during its peak blooming period as its sweet-scented spring blossoms swarm its heart-shaped green leaves on its bushy shrub. When paired with tulips, they create an elegant and classic cottage garden look. Lilac is also very effective at deterring rodents and deer.
27. Bronze Fennel
Bronze fennel grows soft airy mysterious silvery-black green foliage that acts as an incredible backdrop in perennial borders. The softer and darker look also allows bronze fennel to truly highlight the bold and vibrant colored tulips. In fact, for the best display of colors, you want to pair different tulip shades with aromatic perennials.
28. Great Forget-me-not
Great forget-me-nots, Brunnera macrophylla, Siberian bugloss, large leaf, or heartleaf brunnera are perfect springtime companions to tulips. These blooming perennials grow beautiful ultra small clusters of blue blossoms and striking green and white heart-shaped variegated foliage. They add an impressive depth of color, texture, and design contrast next to your tulips.
The foliage perennial maintains a superior blooming carpet underneath your tulip around the same tulip blooming period. While its flowers fade around the same time as tulips, it still retains its striking variegated foliage that shields the drying tulips. Forget-me-nots are also resistant to a range of pests and large animals like rabbits, keeping tulips growing nearby safe as well.
Lungwort grows uniquely shaped spotted silvery-green leaves that help to highlight colorful tulips. These evergreen plants also form small clusters of pink, blue, and purple flowers on each stem for a spectacular display of colors. You can simply line the carpet-like lungwort between your tulips. For an even more dramatic and colorful spring garden setting, add extra spring bulbs, like true and grape hyacinths.
Also known as plantain lilies or giboshi, hostas come in a variety of enchanting leaf foliage shades. The late summer blooming perennials come in white, cream, purple, lavender, pink, red, yellow, yellow-green, blue-green, and variegated shade designs.
Generally, hostas are the complete opposite of tulips. They are shade loving and don’t do very well in extremely hot conditions. Nonetheless, hostas and tulips grow incredibly well together under late-leafing tree canopies. Its wonderful shade and textures create a wonderful contrast in your tulip beds. Additionally, hostas come in handy during summer to shield the dying-out tulip leaves.
Hellebores and tulip companionship are not very common. Like hostas, you can make the combination work by planting them under deciduous tree canopies, catering to the sun-loving tulips and shade-loving hellebores. This allows the tulips to enjoy the sun before the tree fills up and enjoy full shade by the time it’s summer and the plant is gradually fading.
Nonetheless, pairing hellebores with tulips creates an unusually attractive garden look. These herbaceous or evergreen perennials don’t only offer wonderful winter interest. They also grow beautiful succulent-like leaves all year round while their elegant green, white, pink, or ruby spring blossoms boost color in your garden during this time. Hellebores are also resistant to deer and rabbits.
Also known as coral bells, heucheras are grown for their colorful and attractive foliage. It typically grows basal mounds with wavy, smooth, or ruffled leaves in heart, round, or triangular shape. Depending on the cultivar, the leaves can be in amber, deep purple, pink, or gold shades, to mention a few.
These evergreen perennials also grow small spikes of blossoms from mid to late summer. Heuchera complements the vibrant tulip blossoms in spring and helps cover up the fading plant in summer.
33. Red Hebe
For an interesting garden all year round, incorporate the succulent-like red hebe into your tulip beds. These evergreen perennials grow lollipop-like stems with small clusters of red flowers during summer and all year-round low-growing red-hebe leaves.
Hebe makes a lovely evergreen backdrop to brighter-colored tulip blossoms. Red hebe’s fast-growing and spreading cushiony foliage creates a perfect cover for summer-fading tulips.
Boxwood is a popular perennial among different gardeners and is a perfect addition to a well-manicured and neat modern French garden. Boxwood or boxus pairs impeccably well with tulips for a contrast of shape and structure in a contemporary garden setting. The clipped box ball design of the boxwood with the vibrant mix of tulip cultivar colors creates a dreamy outdoor space.
Perennials: Ground Covers
Ground covers like creeping phlox offer a great way to fill the spaces between tulips, with their low-growing foliage enhancing the visual impact of your perennial garden.
Also known as violas, pansies are a perfect companion for tulips. Growing as annuals or perennials, pansy develops delicate, heart-shaped, and overlapping petals flowers with a unique purple and yellow palette. You can, however, find them in other interesting bi-colored palette varieties.
These flowers also grow as ground covers, making them great border plants or space fillers around your tulips. Their ground covering nature and spring to early summer blooming period also makes them great for shielding unpleasant-looking dying tulips. Pansies even survive all summer long when grown in warmer regions.
Dianthus or pinks are prized with a prolonged bloom time starting around spring to fall. So, if you want to guarantee almost all year-round interest, these are interesting blossoms to add. The wonderful ground-covering perennials offer a variety of flower shades, including hot pink, light pink, and purple.
You will also find varieties with color palettes, for instance, pink with white-sheared petal edges. You can even pair full-colored and palate varieties for a whimsical garden appearance. The ground-covering dianthus makes incredible front borders and can also be paired with tulips in containers or large pots. For the best bordering results, pair dianthus with tulips and other compatible spring bulbs.
Sedum or stonecrop is what you add to your tulip garden after finding it a summer companion. These summer-to-fall blooming perennials are an excellent addition to your garden to guarantee a long blooming interest. The perennial typically grows bright yellow or rose-colored flower heads supported on its succulent-like foliage.
However, you can also find varieties that bloom through winter. Their flowers are also a beloved bird grub, so you will enjoy a plethora of musical guests in your garden. Sedum’s bright blossoms and thick succulent-like leaf foliage also do a fantastic job of hiding the thinning and fading tulips.
38. Hardy Geraniums
Hardy geraniums or cranesbills are another type of geraniums that pairs well with tulips. The rabbit and deer-repellent perennials grow showy purple or pink blossoms in spring with spicy-scented leaves that go well with the equally colorful tulips.
You want to pair them with bright yellow, red, or white tulips for a dramatic color and shape contrast. Cranes bill also grow in a low mounding nature which allows them to securely cover fading tulips.
Tickseed or coreopsis doesn’t necessarily bloom along with tulips during spring. These warm-toned blossoms appear during summer when tulips are fading and dying, allowing them to effectively camouflage them. The ground-covering plants grow showy yellow blossoms that resemble daisies and work perfectly as infill or backdrop plants. Their summer blooming habit also allows you to enjoy each flower’s beauty fully while extending the interest period in your garden.
40. Woody Forget-Me-Nots
Woodland forget me nots or Myosotis Sylvatica are excellent ground-covering companions for tulips. These woody perennials grow dashing small blue flowers on a carpet of bright green leaf foliage during April and May. Planted around tulips, they create a colorful foliage blanket around your garden guaranteed to catch any visitor’s attention.
41. Snowdrop Anemone
The ground-mounding snowdrop anemone slightly resembles daisies. However, their yellow center anthers and snow-white petals form a delicate cup-shaped blossom. The beautiful low-growing perennials grow each flower on its own stem for a wonderful carpet around your tulips.
You can pair these flowers with more vibrant tulip colors, such as yellow and orange. The best part of pairing the two is that they boast an interloping bloom period with snowdrops, blooming around mid-late spring.
So, you are always guaranteed a short period of a wonderful display of colors from snowdrops and tulips. Further, snowdrops offer a second period of garden interest during fall. But, during summer, its thick blanket of foliage guarantees to shield the fading tulip leaves.
42. Creeping Phlox
As the name suggests, the incredible creeping phlox adds an outstanding colorful carpet to your garden planted around tulips. The ground covering perennial features an elegant carpet of small colorful flower clusters in white, pink, or purple shades. If you have a colorful eye, you can add both color shades to your garden.
Whether grown on rock gardens or underneath tulips, low-growing aubrieta grows small purple blossoms that wake up any garden setting. The spring-blooming aubrieta also makes for perfect tulip border plants.
The early spring blooming hardy perennial, arabis completely resembles aubrieta. However, they develop showy snow-white petaled flowers with yellow center anthers. Also known as rock cress, arabis pairs with tulips and aubrieta for a sophisticated garden bed.
Planting the beautiful lavender around your tulips adds a layer of beauty to your flower bed while allowing you to enjoy the fragrant lavender foliage. These flowering perennials feature a tender shrub with delicate lacy looking lobed silvery green leaves and fragrant blue-purple narrow flower spikes.
The oil secreted inside the small lavender flowers is what gives this perennial herb its fragrant finish. Lavender’s beauty and fragrance also allow it to attract a wide selection of pollinators while repelling deer and rabbits.
46. Russian Sage
Russian sage is another popular perennial herb that pairs incredibly well with tulips. The bushy perennials feature a magical colorful look with silvery-green leaf foliage at the bottom and amethyst-purple blossoms at the top.
The perennial’s ground-covering, bushy nature makes it perfect for concealing fading tulips. On the other hand, the late summer blooming blossoms guarantee longer-lasting garden interest. Russian sage also emanates a signature fragrance that helps keep out rabbits and deer from your garden.
47. Hardy Salvia
Hardy salvia grows well with tulips, thanks to their sun-loving and low-maintenance nature. These low-growing herbs grow distinctive bluish-purple blossoms atop their leathery green foliage and do a great job of preserving your tulips.
Unlike the heavy-feeding annuals, salvia doesn’t require much feeding or watering, especially during the summer period. This is when the tulips begin to fade and use their leaf foliage to manufacture food that can aid in the following year’s return.
With minimal feeding and watering, this is the perfect environment for the tulip foliage while the bushy low mounding salvia camouflages the drying foliage. They also have a long blooming period from late spring to fall to keep your garden beautiful.
The hardy catmint or Nepata boasts similar habits as salvia and supports tulips in their preservation. The silvery green and spicy scented herb foliage begin to showcase its purple spiky flowers around early to late summer while their spicy scent does a great job at repelling predatory animals.
Snapdragons, dragon flowers, or dog flowers bloom around spring to mid-summer and can be annuals or perennials. This allows them to grow alongside the beautiful tulips and complement one another for an artistic show of colors and signature garden appearance. However, they also remain blooming to keep your garden interesting well after the tulips die off.
Snapdragons grow a collection of flower shades, including purple, pink, red, peach, orange, and yellow, to name a few. Flowers either come in dual puffed petals with a stacking beret appearance or in an azalea-like fringed or ruffled flower look.
Snapdragons also grow distinctively, depending on the climate you are in. In warmer areas, they tend to emerge from the ground and grow by surrounding the tulips. In cooler areas, you want to plant them as seedlings or transplant them around the tulips.
Sunflowers can be paired with tulips in a successive planting manner, ensuring longer-lasting interest in the garden. Sunflowers bloom during summer when the conditions are just right. You can simply plant them in front of the tulips to mask their fading bulbs and foliage effectively. Pair them with fall-blooming flowers, like aster, stonecrop, dahlia, or coneflower for an even longer colorful garden display.
The spring-to-fall blooming marigolds appear just as tulips begin to fade to keep the garden colorful. These season-long annual bloomers grow orange or yellow flowers with deep green fern-like foliage for a beautiful finish.
The pest deterrent blossoms are also edible – giving you a hefty supply of fresh edible flowers. In addition to their non-competitive roots, marigolds come in to fill up spaces around the faded tulip leaves and conceal the browned ones.
52. Sweet Alyssum
Sweet alyssum forms balled-up clusters of rich and dainty white or purple blossoms that complement tulips when planted around the spring bulbs. You can even pair them in a large pot to create a cascading, flowy flower carpet from the sweet alyssums. The spring-to-fall blooming flowers create a perfect size and color contrast against the larger tulip bulbs.
Like tulips, zinnias grow wonderful spring-to-fall colorful flower heads, in yellow, red, pink, purple, and white shades, to name a few. These flowers boast multiple layers of pleasant palette petals with colorful center anthers. So, when paired with tulips, they truly create a striking display of colors in spring. But, their longer blooming period means that your garden will enjoy colorful life through the three seasons of the year.
Ornamental grasses such as reed grass add texture and movement to tulip varieties, creating a dynamic landscape even as the ground freezes.
54. Reed Gras
Tall evergreen ornamental grass is simply looking. But, it does an incredible job at accentuating tulips. This all year-long grass also shields fading tulips and foliage during summer. A good example of the best ornamental grass, include the classic Karl Foerster Feather reed grass. The grass grows lush green leaves with wheat-colored stalks.
2 Worst Companion Plants for Tulips
It may be impossible to list the worst companion plants for tulips one by one. After all, while some plants may tick the box for the worst companion plants, like hostas, they can still grow side by side with tulips in the right conditions. Instead, you want to look at a wider category of plants and probably explore the options available to you in real life.
1. Water Loving Flowering Perennials
Water-loving flowering perennials don’t grow so well with tulips. This is because tulips are the complete opposite – preferring very little water. A few examples of flowering perennials to avoid pairing with tulips include canna lilies and hibiscus.
While many gardeners don’t expect to plant flowers with vegetables, tulips should never be paired with vegetables at all. A few flower examples, such as lavender and marigolds thrive near vegetables, but tulips are a no-no!
Tulips can have several dire consequences when planted near vegetables. For instance, spring bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils secrete harmful alkaloids. So, when planted near vegetables, they can easily leach these toxins into your vegetables, leading to cases of dizziness and abdominal pain when you consume the vegetables.
Further, planting spring bulbs and members of the alliums family, like alliums and onions can negatively affect the flavor of your vegetables. Common vegetables that easily get affected include cucumbers and zucchini.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why Are My Tulips Growing Too Close to the Ground?
When tulips don’t get enough cold treatment during winter, their bulbs grow too close to the ground due to their short, underdeveloped stems. To avoid this, you want to plant them at least 6 to 8 inches deep into the ground and layer them with mulch to retain moisture and cool temperatures. Don’t forget to water them sufficiently, either.
Can You Plant Tulips with Roses?
Tulips shouldn’t be planted with true roses. This is because roses are water-loving perennials while tulips don’t like water after blooming. Pairing them with water-loving roses will affect their prospects of reappearing in the following season.
Can You Plant Tulips and Hydrangeas?
Tulips should not be planted with hydrangeas. While hydrangeas are water-loving, tulips do not like water after blooming. This is because too much water affects their reblooming prospects.
Incorporating great companion plants with tulips is not just about enhancing the visual impact; it’s about creating a garden that showcases gorgeous flowers of different types and flower shapes, all thriving in well-drained soil.
Tulips are pretty versatile spring-blooming bulbs. A wide range of flowering plants, including fellow bulbs, perennials, and annuals make excellent companion plants for tulips. After all, tulips combine well with a range of perennial and annual ornamental flowers, evergreen, ground covering, and even ornamental grass.
On a flower bed, you can pair multiple plants with tulips to create an eye-catching and elegant color, textural, and floral contrast. The best part about pairing tulips is that they grow well with more than 5 dozen different plants. Nonetheless, you always want to remember the limitations. To maintain a pleasant garden look and longevity, never pair tulips with water-loving plants.
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