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Planting Companion Bushes & Perennials for Trees

Planting incompatible companion bushes and perennials around a tree often ends in disappointment and frustration. To avert this irritation, choose shrubs and perennials with soil requirements similar to the tree. Adjusting the soil to suit the companion plants often turns into a struggle that ends without needing to replace them and may have a harmful influence on the tree. The companions should also be short enough to get to their mature height without growing into the tree canopy.

Companion Bush and Perennial Requirements

Trees, shrubs and shrubs perennials have soil pH requirements. The soil pH should be tested prior to purchasing companion plants to determine whether it’s acidic with a pH of 6.9 or lower, neutral with a pH of 7 or even alkaline with a pH of 7.1 or above. If the tree is booming, the soil pH shouldn’t be adjusted to adapt accent plants. Soil texture also has to be considered. Soil is generally clay, loamy (a combination of sand and silt or clay), either sandy or any degree in between. It’s better to select companion plants which thrive in the soil because it is without adding soil amendments.

Flowering Companion Shrubs

Bigleaf or French hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) can offer floral and foliar interest. They aren’t particular about soil pH but the pH will determine their blossom color. Acidic soil will end in blue flowers, neutral pH results in white flowers along with alkaline soil will cause pink flowers. They grow to a height and width of 2 to 6 feet. Organically rich, fast-draining soil in partial shade is favored with these shrubs. They’re hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 to 10. Japanese spiraea shrubs (Spiraea japonica) grow to a height and width of 2 to 6 feet, depending on the cultivar, and can be found in a variety of flower and foliage colors. They are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, many soil types are acceptable for this particular shrub and it isn’t particular about soil pH. Bigleaf hydrangeas and Japanese spiraeas blossom in late spring and early summer and can be grown in no more than four hours of direct sunlight.

Flowering Herbaceous Perennial Companions

Coral bells or heuchera (Heuchera sanguinea) and plantain lilies or hostas (Hosta spp.) Are herbaceous perennials which can be planted as companion plants for trees. They supply floral and foliar curiosity in shady locations. Coral bells grow to a height and width of 1 to 2 feet with foliage which can be various colors of burgundy or green. They bloom in late spring and early summer in pink, white or red. Fast-draining, organically rich soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.7 is favored with these plants with a full sun or partial shade exposure. Plantain lilies vary in height and width from 6 inches to 3 feet. Their leaves may be various shades of green with flowers in blue, purple or white. They favor organically rich soil that tends to stay moist with a neutral pH in partial or full shade. Coral bells and plantain lilies are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9.

Companion Perennials for Texture

Ferns are perennials which can be planted as companion plants for trees to include texture and greenery. Japanese holly ferns (Cyrtomium falcatum), also called Oriental net-vein holly ferns, grow to 2 feet tall with shiny green, toothy, holly-type foliage which gives a course texture. They are hardy in USDA zones 6 to 11 and grow best in organically fertile soil with a pH between 5.6 and 7.9. Ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) grow to between 2 and 6 feet tall with smaller leaflets that offer a more fine-textured greenery. They are hardy in USDA zones 2 to 8 and grow best in moist, organically fertile soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Both of these ferns will grow in partial or full colour.

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