Companions For Azaleas And Rhododendrons: What To Plant With Rhododendron Bushes

Companions For Azaleas And Rhododendrons: What To Plant With Rhododendron Bushes

By: Laura Miller

and azaleas
make beautiful landscape plants. Their abundance of spring blossoms and
distinctive foliage have made these shrubs popular choices among home
gardeners. However, both of these plants require very specific growing
conditions. These requirements can make it difficult to figure out what to
plant with azaleas and rhododendrons.

What to Plant with Rhododendron and Azaleas

Light and pH compatibility are the keys to finding plants
suitable as companions for azaleas and rhododendron. Like most members of this family,
azaleas and rhododendron thrive in acidic
. When choosing rhododendron and azalea companion plants, look for
those that can tolerate a pH between 4.5 and 6.

Additionally, both of these shrubs prefer filtered light or
afternoon shade. Rhododendrons and azaleas can often be found growing under the
canopy of oaks
or in the shade of pine.
These trees also prefer acidic soils, making them ideal companions for azaleas
and rhododendron.

If you prefer smaller plant species, like flowers and
shrubs, choose companion plants that prefer partial shade.

Choosing Companions for Azaleas and Rhododendrons

In addition to finding companion plants that can thrive in
the same growing conditions, gardeners should also consider what qualities they
are looking for in these companion plants.

Bloom Time

Do you want spring flowers that complement the azalea and
rhododendron blossoms? Or do you prefer flowerbeds where something is always in
bloom? This will influence the choice of flowering species you select for
planting near rhododendrons and azaleas. Consider these spring flowers as
companions for azaleas and rhododendrons:

Foliage Type

Both azaleas and rhododendrons have attractive foliage that
adds to the flowerbed’s appeal long after their spring blossoms have fallen.
Consider choosing companions that have complementary leaf shapes, textures, and
colors. Some ideas include:

  • Caladiums contribute various hues of red, pink, and white with their stunning arrowhead shaped leaves.
  • Ferns add woodland charm with their form and leaf texture. Plant shorter and taller species to fill in empty spaces in front and between shrubs.
  • Hostas are invaluable accents to the perennial shade garden. Choose variegated varieties to add tones with white, yellow, and green.


Woody plants lend year-round substance to landscape designs.
When choosing shrubs for planting near rhododendrons and azaleas, consider when
and how they bloom, foliage type, and whether they’re deciduous or evergreen.

Here is a selection of shade tolerant and acid-loving shrubs
that make excellent rhododendron and azalea companion plants:

  • Korean Barberry

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