Camellia plants bring flowers to the garden in a time that’s often free from flowers, the late winter and early spring. And while that makes them stars in their own right, that doesn’t mean camellias don’t like companions! When it comes to designing a garden, check out this beautiful selection of companion plants for camellias.
What Are Companion Plants?
Companion planting consists of planting a couple of different species together to bring benefits to each plant. Typically, companion plants are mainly used to enhance the beauty of your main ornamental plants. They can also be used to attract beneficial pollinators and deter pests or weeds.
10 Beautiful Companion Plants for Camellias
1. Japanese Maple
Camellia plants grow best in a bit of shade, so you can tuck one of these flowering plants under the canopy of a more prominent Japanese maple. However, if you don’t have room for a taller tree, you can select a dwarf variety to plant alongside your camellia—just look for a variety that grows well in part-shade.
While the camellia really shines in the late winter or early fall, the Japanese maple lights up the garden in the summer and fall with its colorful and exquisite foliage. Depending on the cultivar, leaves may range from lime green to crimson to deep purple.
While camellia plants add beauty to the garden year-round, they only produce colorful blooms during the cooler months. Planting azaleas, which bloom in the late spring or early summer, helps keep your garden brimming with bright flowers throughout much of the year. They can also work well to complement a camellia flower hedge if you’re looking for a little privacy.
Much like camellias, azaleas come in all different sizes and colors. Therefore, you’ll want to consider which species and variety you choose before planting it in your garden.
Since azaleas prefer full sun or part shade and camellias prefer at least some shade, it’s best to plant these plants in an area with dappled light or afternoon shade.
3. Japanese Flowering Cherry
If you’d like to stick with the theme of East Asian plants and delicate flowers, you can’t go wrong with a Japanese flowering cherry. These small trees produce loads of white or pink blooms in the early to mid-spring.
Depending on the type of camellia you select, the two plants’ flowers may overlap or just miss each other. And when these two plants are done flowering, you can continue to enjoy their graceful shapes and soothing foliage.
These two are also a good pair since Japanese flowering cherry foliage provides a welcome shade to the smaller camellia plant.
4. Wild Ginger
While tropical ginger grows tall leaves, wild ginger is a groundcover with heart-shaped leaves. This plant thrives in shady conditions, which makes it a great candidate for planting beneath camellia plants.
Wild ginger quickly spreads, so all you have to do is plant one plant, and you’ll soon have a thick groundcover. This not only helps create a beautiful garden but also helps conserve moisture for the camellia plant.
For those looking to create a garden pocket that’s stunning in the late winter and early spring, pair camellia and hellebore. The hellebore, also known as Lenten rose, grows about a foot tall and produces nodding rose-like blooms underneath its umbrella-like leaves.
Hellebore looks stunning, planting in patches to form a tall groundcover. And since these plants thrive in the shade, you can tuck them under the taller camellia plants.
Hostas are another group of shade-loving plants that look lovely tucked under camellias. While some consider the hosta’s tall flower spikes rather tall, their lush green leaves help create a verdant landscape.
If you have multiple camellias growing against a house or wall, try tucking a row of hostas in front of the taller plants. You can even plant various types of hostas that vary in color and size in order to increase the texture in your garden.
7. Bleeding Heart
The bleeding heart is another woodland shrub that can thrive in the same part-shade conditions as the camellia. This plant produces bright pink flowers in the late spring, just after camellias are done blooming.
Bleeding heart plants max out at about one to three feet tall, so you can tuck them in front of or under larger camellia plants.
8. Creeping Phlox
If you’re looking for a groundcover that will provide some color without taking over the rest of your garden, consider creeping phlox. This plant will thrive under a camellia plant without choking out the camellia or climbing up its trunk. And since it’s a perennial, it comes back every year.
Creeping phlox produces oodles of bright flowers in the mid to late spring. These flowers range in color from purple to pink to white and provide a healthy dose of color after camellias are done blooming.
While camelia plants produce flowers in the winter or early spring, spirea plants (aka Meadowsweets) bloom during the late spring and summer. That means you can plant these two shrubs together for an almost continuous display of flowers.
Most spirea will thrive in full sun, but this amount of light is often too intense for camellia. A good compromise is to place these plants in part shade, where both plants can be happy.
Many people love perennials due to their ability to provide color over the course of multiple years. However, annuals like the coleus allow you to cover bare spots in your garden ASAP.
Rather than being known for its flowers, the coleus is beloved due to its multicolor foliage. Whether you’re looking for lime green, hot pink, or a more subdued magenta.
The coleus thrives in dappled light or part shade, which makes it a great contender for sneaking under camellia plants.
Companion Plants for Camellias FAQs:
What Can I Plant Next to Camellias?
Other part-shade plants like azaleas, hostas, and hellebores work well next to camellia plants.
What Is the Best Place to Plant a Camellia?
Most types of camellias prefer dappled light or afternoon shade and a slightly-acidic and well-draining soil.
How Big Do Camellia Plants Get?
This depends on the variety of camellia as well as the plant’s environment. However, most camellia plants will grow between 6 and 15 feet tall.
Can I Plant Evergreen Shrubs as Companions for Camellias?
Yes, planting evergreen shrubs as companions for camellias can provide a year-round backdrop and enhance the overall beauty of the garden. Some of my favorites include Boxwood, Pieris, Daphne, Mahonia, and Viburnum.
Whether you’re looking to create a Japanese garden or fill your space with a never-ending supply of flowers, you can find a companion plant that works well with your camellias.
For more, see our in-depth guide on the meaning and symbolism of camellias and discover our favorite types of red, yellow, white, and pink camellia flowers.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.
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