THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON RODALE’S ORGANIC LIFE.
Beautify your garden with these companion planting combinations for any season.
Organic gardeners know that picking the right plants to grow together can make all the difference: many plants help each other thrive, and strategically partnering those plants in your garden bed is what’s known as companion planting (here are 26 plants you should always grow side by side). You can extend your companion-planting strategy to your flower beds, too.
(On just a quarter-acre of land, you can produce fresh, organic food for a family of four—year-round. Rodale’s The Backyard Homesteadshows you how.)
“First, decide what you are looking for, what you want the plants to do for you in a specific location” advises Mary Bachert, B.S. Ornamental Horticulture & Environmental Design and B.S. Landscape Architecture, of Saylor’s Lawn & Landscape, in Macungie, Pennsylvania. “How tall do you want the plants to be (short for ground cover, tall for privacy screening), what color flowers appeal, when do you want them to bloom, is fragrance important?
“Then try to pair plants that serve overlapping purposes in your landscape. For example, plant shorter long-blooming annuals or perennials in front of an evergreen shrub for year-long greenery and color during the growing season” adds Bachert.
Tips for creating great flowering combinations
1. Pair plants that are suited to the soil and amount of sun available.
2. Choose reblooming or self-cleaning plants (the petals fall off on their own so you don’t have to cut off old flowers frequently to keep the plants pretty) whenever possible for lowest maintenance and highest impact.
3. If you want to create a block of color in your landscape, pair plants with similar shapes and colors.
4. If you prefer individual flowers or plants to stand out, select plants with very different colors, shapes, and textures.
5. Plants with flowers or leaves that are all very similar in color or all in one color family (silver, burgundy, and maroon; or cream, yellow, and white for two examples) create a calming, harmonious feeling in the landscape; while bright, contrasting colors of flowers and/or leaves add excitement and draw the eye.
And relax: if something doesn’t quite suit you don’t sweat it: take pictures and make notes and adjust your choices next year: annualsalways offer a fresh start in the spring and most perennials can be moved to better spots. Do remember that perennials may take a few years to fill out and give you the display you want, so don’t toss in the towel on them too soon.
Here are some favorite pairings to get you started (annuals and tender perennials that aren’t hardy in much of the U.S. are marked with an “a.” Perennials hardy in all or most of the U.S. are marked with a “p”):