11 Great Container Companion Plants For Hostas
Thinking of planting some hostas in pots or containers, but aren't sure what to plant them with? Hostas can companion plant well with many different options, but which ones will perform in a tight space like a pot, or container? In this article, certified master gardener Laura Elsner walks through her favorite hosta companions when container planting in your garden.
Hostas are one of my all time favorite perennials. There are so many different varieties of colors, shapes and sizes. It makes them one of the showiest, and versatile plants in the garden. Hostas also make great companions when planted in a shade garden, or garden bed next to another plant. But, one of my all time favorite applications for hostas is growing them in containers. When you plant hostas in containers, they don’t have to be planted alone!
The lush leafy foliage of a hosta can really fill up a pot. The subtle variation in foliage size, color, and texture makes them an interesting addition to all types of container gardens. But adding some accent plants underneath them or alongside them can make for visually stunning displays.
When it comes to container or pot planting, the hosta can look amazing when combined with other plants. Some in my opinion, are slightly better than others. Let’s take a deeper look into some of my favorite plants to buddy up with a hosta when planning out a container garden!
Scientific Name: Lysimachia Nummularia ‘Aurea’
This one is my favorite. I actually plant golden lysimachia as a trailer in tons of my annual designs. It is thick and lush and has a beautiful golden color that really stands out. I love it spilling out of a container with a hosta. My favorite hosta would be one that has some sort of chartreuse color variation. Whether in the margins like hosta ‘Francis Willams’, or in the center like hosta ‘strip tease’.
The golden color in the hosta next to the golden lysimachia really pops in containers. The big leaves of hostas can really fill a container and not leave room for much else. The small bright leaves of the golden lysimachia spill over the edges of the pot and adds interest without getting in the way of the hosta’s big leaves.
Scientific Name: Lobularia Maritima
Sweet alyssum and hosta is a combination I keep coming back to. It is simple, quaint and cottagey. But it still has a really elevated and elegant feel. I like how the tiny little white flowers (you can also get it in purple) pop out from underneath the wide brimmed hosta leaves. Also, if you are planting alyssum in sitting areas, it smells amazing!
Like lysimachia, alyssum is small and just fills in the gaps of the hosta leaves without getting in the way of their wide spreading plant. If you have a hosta you over winter in a container, just pop in a six pack of alyssum and it is an instant container design.
Scientific Name: Viola x Wittrockiana
Pansies and hostas are great friends because they both love the same cool dappled sun conditions. I love the wide faces of pansies under the large leaves of hostas. This is a simple combination that always does well together. Pansies are also easy to grow, and can take some neglect.
I love mixing blue leaf hostas, such as hosta ‘blue angel’ or ‘halcyon’ with purple pansies such as ‘matrix blue blotch’. It’s a cool combination for a shady corner.
Another nice combination are pure white pansies, like ‘delta premium pure white’, with white edged hosta such as hosta ‘patriot’ or ‘Francee’. Together they look crisp and brighten up a shady nook.
I like using the premade mixture varieties of pansies because they have variations in color, but they all go together. It’s an easy trick to make nicely put together container designs. A large container with a big green hosta like ‘August moon’ paired with a pansy mix such as Dynamite ‘waterfall mix’ would be a cool shade friendly container combo.
The cool wave series of pansies offers flowers that trail out, so if the hosta takes up the entire pot and doesn’t leave much room for pansies, consider adding cool wave pansies as a trailing flower.
Scientific Name: Coleus Scutellarioides
I am a big foliage over flowers gardener. Don’t get me wrong, I love flowers. But playing with foliage texture and color is an easy, low maintenance way (i.e. no deadheading) to add a modern twist to your outdoor space. Coleus and hosta together do just that. There are almost infinite combinations to try.
Some hostas are large and can be the main feature (thriller) in a pot. Or there are small hostas that can be a filler in a pot. The same with coleus, there are large coleus varieties, and smaller filler plants.
If you are in a garden center during planting season, grab a cart and grab some hostas and coleus and play around with the varying heights and colors until you find something you really love. You’ll see what color combinations make the hosta and coleus pop. Here are a few of my favorite combos.
Big Red Judy coleus as the feature or thriller plant in your container. It’s large, fast growing, and red. Put this in a pot alongside the small, blue leafed hosta ‘mouse ears’ as the filler underneath and they will pop. I’d add golden lysimachia to spill out the edges and that is a great container without a flower.
A large chartreuse Sum and Substance hosta as the feature and then plant some wizard mix coleus underneath as a filler for a funky colorful design. Again I’d add golden lysimachia as the spiller because I just can’t help myself.
Scientific Name: Hydrangea Sp.
Hydrangeas and hostas go together so perfectly in the garden it is no wonder they’d be a great match in containers. For this one I really like the look of them in separate pots, but placed together in a grouping. This is a great way to incorporate perennials into containers. It is really simple and elegant and creates lush patio and sitting areas.
In pot designs with hydrangeas, hosta takes a supporting role. I can either be in a separate pot, or planted underneath the large hydrangea. Obviously the large balls of hydrangea flowers are going to steal the show. But the large round hosta leaves really complement and accent the big round leaves of the hydrangea and elevate it even more.
Scientific Name: Tracheophyta
Hostas and ferns are a great contrast of texture. The light feathery airy fern fronds contrast beautifully against the large oval leaves of hostas. There are also so many varieties of ferns and hostas, that the possibilities are almost endless for combinations.
I like having a large plant for a thriller in a pot. For instance large size dracena spike. After that, I can layer other plants in. Add some flowers, like impatiens or fuchsia to break up the green. Then add a hosta for some big chunky leaf appeal. Then a simple fern (boston or asparagus etc.) softens everything. I nestle the fern up to the hosta to highlight their different textures.
You can also play with colors of ferns and hostas. Japanese painted ferns are a lovely silvery color and would look great planted next to a solid green hosta such as ‘August moon’.
A fern can be a feature plant in a pot, like an ostrich fern, deer fern, or a boston fern. Put this in the center of the pot and then layer a combination of small, low-growing hostas, like hosta ‘June’. Then add in some big tuberous begonias. This adds a pop of color and breaks up the green on green. This would be a beautiful and lush shady combination.
Scientific Name: Begonia Sp.
This combination might be my favorite. Again, there are so many types of begonias and so many types of hostas. I could make hundreds of pots with hosta and begonia and they would all be completely different.
Non Stop begonias, a tuberous variety, is a great choice, especially in containers. The flowers are large and rose-like. They come in a variety of colors, red, pink, white, and yellow. Adding a few of these into containers with hostas really turns up the volume with their huge blossoms. They can be seen from a distance.
For a more modern twist on hostas and begonias try pairing your hosta with rex begonias. These begonias are known for their intricate foliage patterns and colors as opposed to their flowers. A blue shade hosta, like ‘halycon’ with escargot rex begonias planted around would be an eye-catching combination.
Or for a different shape, try a hanging type begonia to drip down from underneath a hosta’s leaves. Try planting a tall hosta, such as the lovely chartreuse variety ‘dancing queen,’ in the back of a pot. Then layer in some Bellaconia Soft Orange begonias spilling out the front of the pot.
Scientific Name: Browallia Speciosa
Browallia is a gorgeous shade flower that is less common than begonias and impatiens. It is a bushy plant with big star shaped flowers that come in purple or white. I like the small glossy leaves against the larger hosta leaf, and the browallia blooms really add a pop.
I like using the browallia as the main feature in the pot and then adding smaller hostas, like ‘mouse ears’ or ‘little caesar’ in front for a lush shady combo.
Or, plant a hosta in a taller pot on its own and add lower pots filled with browallia. Either way, it makes a great combination of foliage and flowers. As a bonus, if you let your hosta bloom it will also have showy purple flowers.
Scientific Name: Lobelia Erinus
Lobelia is sometimes considered a sun annual. However, I find that if you let it dry out on a hot day, for even a minute (or so it seems) they fry and turn crispy brown. In a part shade container however, they are tufts of blue, purple, white, or even red flowers that spill out of containers. Plant any hosta and then add lobelia underneath it to spill out. It is a great cool shade combo.
Scientific Name: Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’
Diamond frost euphorbia is one of my favorite annuals to plant. They are technically a sun plant, but there are a variety of newer hostas on the market that take more sun. Any of the lighter, chartreuse varieties can handle more sun. Diamond frost is a delicate airy filler flower that has delicate diamond blossoms all over it.
Try pairing a bright sun hosta, like ‘sum and substance’ with diamond frost underneath. I would also add some nonstop red or deep rose begonias to give it some extra flavor. The diamond frost just fills the pot and adds some light airy texture underneath the wide solid hosta leaves.
Scientific Name: Impatiens sp.
This is another classic pairing. Impatiens are low growing and bushy flowers that have big tropical looking flowers that come in lots of different colors. A large hosta, like Empress Wu with a planting of red, white, or pink impatiens underneath would look elegant and impressive. I would add some ivy to spill out of the pot.
There are also New Guinea impatiens which are larger and showier. These could be layered in separate pots around hostas for a lush tropical feel.
Sunpatiens are new introductions that take both sun and shade conditions. I love the variegated varieties that have golden interiors and dark green margins. Pair them with variegated hostas like hosta ‘liberty’ to create a funky variegated design.
I just scratched the surface with possibilities for hosta container companions. Just make sure when putting together your hosta containers that everything in that container likes the same conditions. Don’t plant full sun flowers with dark blue shade-loving hostas. If you want to add more sun flowers, be sure to be planting lighter colored hostas that can tolerate more sun. Have fun mixing and matching containers and pots with hostas in your garden this season!