Japanese forest grass companion plants spice up gardens and landscapes with varying colors and textures. While there are several plants you can pair with them, it is crucial to take their different mature sizes and growth patterns into account when planting them. Hakone grass, is scientifically classified as Hakonechloa macra.

List of Indirect Sun Lovers Perennials Plants

This stunning ornamental grass has many companions that will make it all the more dazzling in your garden all year round. Without further ado, let’s walk you through some of the perfect plants to pair with Japanese forest grass.

Various Japanese Forest Grass Companion Plants You Can Grow

1. Lilyturf Grass

As evident by its name, this grass produces thick, strappy deep purple or almost black leaves that dramatically affect any landscape. Just imagine the contrast between the leaves of this grass are also known as black mondo grass companion plants, and those of the Hakonechloa macta grass. If you’re not afraid of bold choices, lilyturf is the perfect companion plant for Hakonechloa macra in your garden.

– Characteristics

This grass is one great choice for daring gardeners. While black is an unusual color for a plant, lilyturf pairs well with the macra grass for this very reason as the colors add great contrast.

The grass grows in dense clumps with thick, dark strappy leaves, and the leaves of this plants would be able to reach about 12 inches when the plant matures, which is about the same height as the Japanese grass to be exact, adding a nice characteristic to them.

In addition, note that the lily turf grows pink, bell-shaped flowers, which eventually produce really dark berries between late spring and early summer. Even these berries contribute to their aesthetic effect or their unique feature. One thing about these plants is that they are resistant to animals like deer and rabbits.

Lilyturf Grass Blossoms

– Growth Requirements

When you are growing this grass you should note that they are slow-growing; they require a lot of patience to grow them. However, being parallel to their exotic looks, it is a relatively easy plant to grow and maintain. 

To successfully grow this plant, you will need to balance its water, soil, and light requirements carefully, as this plants is able to grow well in hardiness zones 6 to 9 and require full sun to partial shade for optimum growth. In areas with high sun intensity, it’s best to grow these plants in a shaded area, away from direct sunlight, as the plants can quickly become damaged under prolonged sunlight exposure.

For a healthy plant, lilyturf has to be watered frequently, especially at the beginning of its growing season. Doing this will encourage the plant’s spreading and roots’ establishment. After the growing season, watering can be done less frequently to avoid overwatering it. In this case, the goal is to ensure the plant is always moist but not drenched in water. The perfect soil for mondo plants is rich, moist, and adequately drained, with a pH range between 5.5 and 6.5, which is not exactly neutral, but this aspect is one to be specific about.

2. Coral Bells

Now, this companion plant is a beauty in different ways such as with its growing grace and even blooming richness. Known popularly for their bell-shaped blooms, coral bells are indigenous to North American landscapes, with several new varieties propagated yearly. 

They are also known as Heuchera which is their scientific name, but with numerous types of the plant available, they can serve as companions to a number of Japanese forest grass types.

– Characteristics

These plants are short-lived ornamental perennials, grown popularly for their lovely lobed foliage, with hues ranging between purple, lime-green, gold, and rose. This array of foliage colors contrasts perfectly with the greenery of the Japanese grass.

Colorful Coral Bells

The plants grow in mounds close to the ground, producing tiny bell-like red, pink, orange, or white flowers during spring. Furthermore, when they are properly established, their blooming can extend into early summer and would still show their beautiful colors.

The incredible display of coral bell flowers during summer attracts all sorts of pollinators, including butterflies and hummingbirds. These summer visitors feed on the sweet nectar produced by the flowers. In addition, it is keen to know that these plants are well-liked in floral arrangements because they put on a beautiful show when they’re displayed like that.

– Growth Requirements

Like black mondo plants, Heuchera plants require full or partial sun exposure but prefer slightly shaded areas, especially when the sun is intense. Intense heat from the sun can burn the leaves and cause their vivid colors to fade, which is why in summer they don’t last till the middle of the season. All in all, their light exposure depends on the variety you choose to grow. 

Remember that if you want to keep these plants happy and thriving you need to water them regularly. Extra water will go a long way for the plants, especially in hotter climates. Additionally, Heuchera plants will thrive in nutrient-rich moist soils, with a pH between 6 and 7, furthermore, they will do well if the soil drains well and doesn’t become packed with water. 

3. Japanese Maple Tree

Japanese maple, also known as palmate trees, are slow-growing trees. With many different varieties to pick from, these trees vary in size, color, and shape. 

They are perfect for growing with Hakonechloa macra grasses as they serve to add a distinct focal point to gardens and other types of landscapes. Not only this, but also you can consider growing the palmate trees in large containers or directly in the ground, and as a result, their placement can be strategically planned, because they are suitable.

– Characteristics

Palmate trees have distinct lobed foliage of varying colors, ranging between red, purple, yellow, orange, and green. Their stunning foliage is what makes them attractive. There are several varieties of the plant, with some growing as tall as 30 feet and others extending really short ones would be able to grow only a maximum of eight feet tall.

Japanese Maple Tree Near Lake

The trees mostly have a widespread, which makes them suitable for planting with Japanese grasses for shade. Palmate trees grow well in zones five to eight, so if you live within these growing zones, consider them a companion plant for your Japanese plants.

– Growth Requirements

You can grow Japanese maples under partial sunlight exposure, if you consider, this is a prominent feature, because intense heat can damage their lovely foliage. However, if there’s insufficient light, it causes them to develop more green leaves rather than their typical brilliantly colored leaves.

Water Japanese forest trees regularly for optimum growth, especially when they’re still younger than their usual mature phase. They typically like sand and loam soils as long as the ground is slightly acidic. Also, these trees grow well in moist, nutrient-rich soil that isn’t water-logged.

4. Hellebores

Grasses and flowers? This is the most popular combination in gardens. Pairing it with the macra grasses, the hellebore flowers takes a garden to the next level through their aesthetic features. These belong to the Ranunculaceae family and come in several varieties that add distinct features to gardens and backyards.

– Characteristics

With their green leaves and stunning flowers, hellebores grow in low-lying clumps and form attractive dense foliage. They are perennial plants that grow long-lasting, colorful blooms that attract various pollinators to gardens. Depending on the variety, their colors can range from yellow, purple, white, and pink. Some species of the plant are toxic to pets, so you must take care when selecting. 

Hellebores Flowers Blooms

Hellebores grow very close to the ground, with heights of about one to two feet tall. Their spread is usually within the same range which is on average one to two feet wide. Furthermore, remember that these plants thrive in hardiness zones three to nine, so you must take the hardiness zone into account before choosing to grow them. 

– Growth Requirements

Hellebores don’t mind a little shade from the sun. In fact, they prefer it. However, in colder weather, like during winter, they’re better off in full view of the sun. 

These plants require very little maintenance, and as long as they are planted under optimum light, soil, and water conditions, they will thrive. These grass and flowers need to be placed in a neutral to alkaline soils that are nutrient-rich and drain well. They thrive in moist soils as long as they aren’t water-logged. 

5. Astilbes

You can never go wrong with Astilbes as Hakonechloa macra grass companions. These beautiful flowering plants are easy to grow and manage. Most Astilbes are also known as false goat’s beards or false spirea, and they can be found growing all over North America and Asia, where they originate. They belong to the saxifragaceae family and are popularly grown for their beautiful blooms.

– Characteristics

These plants have characteristic colorful blooms that grow in tall plumes and rise above their leaves. This feature, in particular, makes them a great centerpiece for summer gardens. 

Blooming Astilbes Flowers

Note that one of their attractive characteristic is their flowers, that would usually have pastel colors, with a few exceptions that have white or purple hues. Astilbes have fern-like leaves that contrast perfectly with the leaves of Hakonechloa macra grasses. 

However, the mature plant can grow as tall as four feet and as wide as 30 inches. These plants grow well in containers and are suitable as ground covers. 

– Growth Requirements

Astilbes aren’t fussy at all. They are mostly shade plants and require moist but well-draining soils to grow. They grow well in loamy soils that have an acidic to neutral pH. Note that if you reside anywhere between hardiness zones three to eight, Astilbes might be the perfect plant to pair with your Hakonechloa macra grasses.

6. Hostas

Hostas are every gardener’s favorite. They have a way of elevating the look of a garden or landscape with just their leaves. These plants have several varieties that will have you hooked in no time. 

What’s great about them is that you can choose two to three different types to grow with Hakone grass for a fuller and more vibrant look that would add a unique feature to the front of your yard, or even to your backyard. Most hosta varieties can be grown in many different places, including pots and flower beds. 

– Characteristics

Hostas are easy to grow and maintain; this is another reason for their popularity. They have different textures, colors, and sizes, depending on the variety you choose. Most varieties produce flowers with purple, pink, or white hues. 

Yellow Green Leaves of Hostas

When it comes to show-stopping, their leaves are their primary weapons; they come in different colors, including the typical greens and blue. Some species will even produce stunning bi-colored leaves. However, their young and new shooting foliage would be ones that are still so soft and lighter in shades.

Hostas usually grow naturally in clumps. They have spreading roots. Mature hostas can range between six and all the way to 48 inches in height and can be as wide as six feet, of course, depending on the variety that you have chosen to grow.

– Growth Requirements

As previously mentioned, these green bushes would thrive in shaded regions, where the light coming to them is shaded or under partial to full shade conditions, and not direct sun. On the other hand, all hosta species require fertile, well-draining soils. As long as the ground isn’t water-logged and has a slightly acidic pH, these plants will survive.

7. Lady’s Mantle

Lady’s mantle is another stunning companion plant for Hakone grass. With about 700 species, these plants have unique features that make them wonderful additions to any landscape. 

They grow in clumps or clusters and are popularly used as groundcovers in cottage gardens. Moreover, the lady’s mantle plants can sometimes be invasive, as some varieties of the plant self-seed and spread really fast, which means that you should be careful with this beauty when planting.

– Characteristics

Lady’s mantle plants have charming features that make them attractive. Their scallop-shaped leaves are one of such endearing features. As a result of the shape, their leaves can retain some water after it rains, leaving behind tiny, shiny droplets that add to the plants’ charm.

Ladys Mantle Flower

The plants produce long cascading yellow or green blooms, which rise above the foliage and add to the plants’ aesthetics during summer. Also note that their flowers last for a while and can be used as fillers in several types of floral arrangements, which is a great benefit.

Even though their flowers are less showy than most other plants, their leaves make up the difference and make them suitable plants to grow with Hakone grasses. Most Lady’s mantle varieties grow about 24 inches tall and wide. Some can be shorter and more compact.

– Growth Requirements

Lady’s mantle plants are low-maintenance plants. They require full to partial shade for survival. Also, they aren’t particular about the types of soil they’re grown in as long as it is moist and drains well. Remember that it shouldn’t be filled with too much water, or else the roots will damaged and weakened.

They perform optimally in soils that are slightly acidic or neutral. Lady’s mantle plants are relatively drought-resistant, especially when they have been established.

8. Hardy Geranium

Hardy Geranium plants are usually hybrids or crosses between several geranium species. They’re tougher than most plants and are termed “hardy” because they are resistant to several conditions, pests, and diseases, which is what is a unique feature that they have. 

There are several varieties of hardy geranium plants, all of which are suitable for many different settings, including borders, beds, or woodlands. These plants are also ideal as groundcovers, and depending on what you’re looking for, the different varieties can be grown and maintained easily.

– Characteristics

Hardy Geranium plants grow in dense clusters very close to the ground. They have tiny, colorful cup-like flowers with thick leaves. These flowers grow in hues including purple, pink, magenta, white and blue. They are usually displayed above the leaves, and because of their vivid colors, they contrast wonderfully with the greenery surrounding them.

Bright Colorful Hardy Geranium

Hardy Geranium flowers attract beneficial visitors which are helpful pollinators such as the bees and butterflies, during their growing season, in early spring. The plants themselves are usually short and low-growing. The largest mature plant will only grow about 36 inches tall and 6 feet wide.

– Growth Requirements

Most varieties of hardy Geranium plants thrive under total sunlight exposure. However, some prefer partial shade, especially in hotter regions. In general, you should remember how these plants thrive in a variety of soil types as long as they are properly drained, and make sure you don’t over water it. 

In addition, it is also a significant and a common factor how they all require dry environments, as they can become easily infected with mildew if they’re kept in moist conditions for a prolonged period. 

The watering frequency for these plants depends on how much sun and heat they’re exposed to. It goes without saying that the plants need to be watered frequently if they’re grown in hotter climates, but not to the extent that they are continuously drenched.


Hakonechloa macra grass is an all-around appealing plant that can bring texture and character to any garden or landscape. A few suitable suggestions have been listed in the article above. Some interesting facts to keep in mind when selecting companions for these plants are:

  • You should select plants that have the same or similar water needs as hakone grasses to prevent competition.
  • Choose plants that will thrive in low light levels because Hakonechloa macra grasses love shaded areas.
  • Each companion plant listed above has several varieties that you can pair with hakone grasses without stress.
  • Different companions come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and textures, so it is important to pick the ones that will look perfectly balanced when paired with Hakonechloa macra grasses.
  • The perfect companions for Hakonechloa macra grass will require soil conditions that are not water-logged, similar to the plants’ soil needs.

To add visual appeal to your garden, think about incorporating more plants in addition to those listed above. The key factor is to choose plants that have contrasting foliage textures or colors. Some additional examples of other plants that will pair well with Hakone grasses include; some flowering shrubs, tiny trees, and ornamental grasses. 





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