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Companion plants for azaleas are essential because while azaleas are beautiful, a garden is not complete without other plants. Azaleas of the Rhododendron genus are the state flowers of Washington and West Virginia, so they are very common in gardens in those states.
However, growing the wrong plant with them can spoil the look of your garden or even prove to be unsuccessful. As you keep reading this article, you will find the right companions.
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List of Companion Plants for Azaleas
Here are the top choices of azalea companion plants just for you so that your garden can stay alive and beautiful with more than one type of flower.
1. Mountain Laurels
Mountain Laurels are beautiful plants in the heath family, Ericaceae, their scientific name is Kalmia Latifolia. They are flowering plants that are naturally growing in the eastern United States. Their natural growing range stretches from northern Florida to southern Maine and then west to Louisiana and Indiana. The evergreen shrub can grow 9.8 to 29.5 feet tall.
The beautiful shrubs have a bloom time in late spring, producing hexagonal flowers that are sometimes pentagonal.
The flowers are colored light pink or white and occur in clusters. Their leaves are 0.3 to one inch wide and one to five inches long.
People usually use the leaves to treat ringworms occurring on the scalp, tinea capitis, syphilis psoriasis, and herpes. These plants are good companion plants for azaleas because they both prefer the same lighting, temperature, and humidity conditions. Also, they prefer a slightly acidic pH. Note that the plant leaves are toxic when eaten raw.
2. Spotted Dead Nettles
These beautiful plants which are native to the entire of Europe and temperate parts of Asia are in the family Lamiaceae, hence its scientific name would be Lamium Maculatum. They produce their beautiful flowers in spring, from May to June. The plants are perennial, prostrate, herbaceous, spreading plants that grow to reach 7.9 to 31.5 inches in height.
Just like azaleas, these nettle plants prefer an environment that is humus-rich, moist, and well-drained. They also prefer full sun. However, they can grow well in partial shade.
They produce leaves that are heart-shaped to ovate-triangular, soft, hairy, sometimes spotted this is how the trees got their Latin name “maculatum” which means “spotted” from, grow 0.79 to 3.94 inches long, and toothed.
On the other hand, the leaves grow from long petioles of length about 0.79 to 1.57 inches. Lastly, the hermaphrodite flowers of these nettles grow in inflorescences that bear about two to eight flowers growing 0.79 to 1.18 inches long.
3. Snowball Bushes
These cute bushes that are also called Guelder-roses or Viburnum Opulus, are plants from the family Adoxaceae that are naturally growing in northern Africa, Europe, and Central Asia.
They bloom in mid-spring and produce white hermaphrodite flowers. These deciduous shrubs are slow-growing, adding just around two feet to their height per year. When mature, they can reach heights of 13 to 16 feet.
The leaves of snowball bushes are three-lobed, opposite, growing from two to four inches broad and long, and have coarsely serrated margins and rounded bases.
The leaf buds of these plants are green and have valvate bud scales. These bushes have flowers in corymbs growing on top of the stems. The corymbs each have a ring of sterile flowers with conspicuous petals that surround the fertile flowers in the center.
While these snowball plants prefer moderately alkaline soils, they can tolerate neutral or slightly acidic soil, so they are suitable to grow with azaleas because they prefer moist soil but can tolerate so many soil types as well. Overall, as long as your azaleas can grow in the soil, the snowball bushes can thrive as well.
4. Witch Hazels
“Witch Hazels” refer to the beautiful plants in the genus Hamamelis and family Hamamelidaceae. The name “Hamamelis” means “together with fruit” and refers to the behavior of the tree that is producing new flowers while the fruits from the previous year are yet to mature.
There are three North American, one Japanese, and Chinese species in the genus. They are small trees that grow 10 to 39 feet tall.
In Asian countries, these trees represent inspiration and protection and sometimes mysticism or magic. Consuming the leaves can help to neutralize free radicals and prevent widespread inflammation due to their medicinal properties.
These trees produce flowers with four strap-shaped, slender petals growing 0.3 to 0.7 inches long. The flowers are dark to pale yellow, red, or orange.
These small trees are hardy and do not need much care. Nonetheless, you only need to mix the soil with compost once or twice yearly and grow the trees in full sun. Also, note that you must water them just as you water your azalea plants and this is how they would be happy and grow healthy together.
5. Japanese Andromedas
These are super beautiful plants in the heath family Ericaceae that are naturally growing in Japan, eastern China, and Taiwan where they grow in mountain thickets. The Andromeda plants grow three to 13 feet tall and produce simple, alternate leaves growing on brittle stems. The leaves start growing with red or bronze colors in some cultivars and then later turn green.
The beautiful plants produce trusses of flowers early in spring, you may even find them under the name of Pieris Japonica.
These little urn-shaped flowers color pink or white and provide a major decorative effect on the young red leaves of the plants. The beautiful bloom can last two to three weeks, sometimes four if you are lucky.
While these Japanese plants are acid-loving and can grow in full sun just like azalea bushes, you should protect them from the summer afternoon sun so that they do not get sunburnt. On the other hand, it is very important that you note that their leaves are poisonous, so no human or animal should consume them because they will be intoxicated.
6. Bleeding Hearts
Bleeding hearts are very beautiful plants in the poppy family Papaveraceae, naturally growing in Japan, Korea, northern China, and Siberia where they are found in sparse woodland.
The bleeding heart trees or the Dicentra are the only species in the genus and their common names include the lady in a bath, lyre flower, and heart flower. They can grow 47 inches tall by 18 inches wide.
These plants are perennial, herbaceous, and rhizomatous, producing compound leaves with three lobes, growing on fleshy green or pink petioles. The plants produce beautiful flowers in spring or early summer.
The outer petals of the bleeding heart flowers are fuchsia-pink while the inner petals are white. The flowers feature droplets below them, giving the impression of tears.
Grow the beautiful plants in full sun and fertilize them monthly, You must note that if you are living in the tropics, grow these plants in partial shade, which is great to grow next to your Azaleas.
7. Plantain Lily
Plantain lilies or Hostas are beautiful foliage plants from the family Asparagaceae and subfamily Agavoideae naturally growing in northeast Asia.
These plants are very suitable plants for background planting as they help in weed prevention because they do not allow light to reach the ground. If your azaleas are competing with weeds for space and nutrients, consider growing plantain lilies.
Beautiful plants have ovate or lanceolate leaves that vary widely in size according to the species. The leaves can grow from one up to 18 inches long and 0.75 to 12 inches wide according to the species.
The leaves have a glaucous waxy coating that is either green or blue-like. The usually scentless individual flowers are pendulous with six tepals, growing 0.75 to two inches long, as they are found in either white, lavender, or violet in color.
This plant grows best in full sun and it is a very helpful plant for Azaleas. It can also grow in partial shade. Feed the plant with fertilizer and consider using beautiful mulch and add more beauty to your garden.
8. Bush Lily
Here is another beautiful plant to accompany your azaleas, the Clivia Miniata. The beautiful plant which is in the family Amaryllidaceae is naturally growing in the woodland habitats of South Africa and Eswatini and has naturalized in Mexico.
This plant produces beautiful flowers in the months of March or April. The funnel-shaped, very sweet-perfume flowers grow in an umbel-shaped inflorescence. They are mostly red, yellow, or orange.
The bush lily plant produces mostly underground, fleshy, stems called rhizomes that grow about one inch in diameter and have so many fleshy roots growing from them. The plant has long, showy, strap-like, arching leaves that grow about 18 inches long and are arranged in opposing rows. You simply have to appreciate the beauty of this plant.
It can grow in full sun or shade and tolerate a minimum of 25 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. You can grow the plant as a landscape or ornamental to complement your azaleas. A suitable cultivar of bush lilies for azaleas is the Belgian Hybrid Orange bush lily.
9. French Hydrangea
French hydrangeas are plants in the family Hydrangeaceae, specifically, it is Macrophylla, that are naturally growing in Japan.
They grow 2.5 feet tall and 8 feet wide with large flower heads in fall and summer that are pink or blue. Other names of this beautiful plant are bigleaf hydrangea, lacecap hydrangea, French hydrangea, penny mac, mophead hydrangea, and hortensia.
The term “macrophylla” means “large-leaved” or “long-leaved” and refers to the opposing leaves of the plant that grow to six inches in length. The flowers of this plant are in a corymb inflorescence in which all flowers are placed on a hemisphere, whole, or even plane sphere in the cultivated forms of the plant.
French hydrangea ‘Mathilda Gutges’ is a suitable variety of this plant for azaleas. While this plant can grow in full sun, it grows best in filtered light. Ensure that the garden soil is moist and well-drained. Make use of a balanced fertilizer for your French hydrangea plants.
10. Tulip Trees
Tulips are large deciduous trees in the magnolia family that are naturally growing in the eastern regions of North America as well as Vietnam and China. These trees can grow as high as 192 feet and produce unique leaves.
Their leaves mostly have four lobes and a straight apex or cross-cut notch. The leaves grow from three to eight inches long and two to 10 inches wide according to the species.
Tulip flowers are truly beautiful, growing one to four inches in diameter with nine tepals. They have six yellow-green inner petals and three outer sepals that are mostly green. The base of the petals has an orange flare. These trees start blooming when they are around 15 years old.
They produce cone-like, aggregate fruits and grow 1.5 to maximum of 3.5 inches long. This tree has a high crown, so it will not block sunlight from reaching your azaleas. It is suitable to grow in temperate climates and can grow in full sun or part shade. Just ensure that the soil is well-drained, deep, and fertile. Also, it should be slightly acidic just the way azaleas want it.
11. Cape Jasmines
Here is an evergreen plant for you, the gardenia Jasminoides. These jasmines are native to some regions in Southeast Asia and are truly remarkable. They grow lanceolate-oblong, opposite leaves that are leathery and on the same node. The leaves are also dark green and have prominent veins and a slightly waxy surface. In Summer, cape jasmine plants produce white flowers with heavy fragrance.
Jasmines grow one to 10 feet high. While their leaves are leathery, their young flowers look and feel matte until they are mature and then turn creamy yellow and become waxy.
These plants are widely planted in gardens, especially in subtropical and warm temperate climates.
Just like azaleas, cape jasmines are acid-loving plants, so you want to maintain a slightly below-neutral soil pH. Water and fertilize the plants just the way you water and fertilize your other plants. Make use of balanced fertilizer for the plants.
12. Japanese Camellia
Japanese Camellia or camellia Japonica plants are pretty plants in the family Theaceae that are native to mainland China southwestern Japan, Taiwan, and southern Korea. This plant species produces leaves that have high anti-inflammatory terpenoids like squalene and lupeol, so the plant is medicinal. It can grow five to nine feet tall but sometimes grow up to 36 feet.
These beautiful plants have young branches that are purplish brown and later become grayish brown as they age.
Their leathery leaves are alternately arranged and dark green above and pale below. The leaves usually grow two to four inches long and one to two inches wide on petioles growing about 0.2 to 0.4 inches long.
The plants bloom around February and produce pink flowers that appear towards the end of the branches. The flowers have very short stems and are not so easy to pluck. This is an acid-loving plant that also loves organic nutrients and semi-moist soils just like azaleas.
13. Sweet Pepperbush
The sweet pepperbush plant is a beautiful plant from the family Clethraceae and naturally growing in the eastern parts of North America, from northern Florida to Maine south and southern Nova Scotia, and west to the eastern parts of Texas. It is a deciduous shrub that loves to grow around wetlands, woodland streams, and bogs, in addition, it grows four to nine feet tall.
The leaves of sweet pepper bushes are oblong to obovate and grow 1.5 to maximum four inches long and 0.7-1.5 inches wide. They have serrated margins, and grow as green leaves but turn yellow-golden in the fall months.
The plant’s flowers are white or pale pink and have a somewhat cloying and sweet fragrance. Bumblebees are attracted to the flowers of the plants, so if you are a fan of bees, grow these plants.
Pepper bushes bloom in summer or spring and have similar growing conditions to azaleas, so they can complement your azaleas. You can also grow them alongside a pond or stream to delay erosion if you are suffering from erosion in your yard.
While azaleas themselves are beautiful, the companion plants for azaleas have proven to be equally or even more beautiful. Some great choices of azalea companions for you are Snowball Bushes, Plantain Lilies, and Bush Lily as they easily compliment the beauty of azaleas.
After seeing all these beautiful plants, which one would you like to plant azaleas within your garden?