Best Companions for Spring Bulbs

Plant Partners for Spring-Blooming Bulbs

Spring bulbs look wonderful in so many different settings. Naturalized in a meadow, or growing at the edge of a woodland. Planted beside a stream or popping up here and there among shrubs and other landscape plants. In flower gardens, spring bulbs look best when they are paired with complementary annuals and perennials. Virginia bulb grower Brent Heath describes these companion plants for spring bulbs as “socks and shoes” plants because they cover the bulbs’ feet.

Mixing spring bulbs with annuals and perennials also assures that when your bulbs are in bloom, they are set them off by a framework of complementary colors and textures. And, once the bulbs have passed their prime, these partner plants also help cover up the fading flowers and foliage.


Perennials in the spring garden shown above include primroses, hosta, lady's mantle, bleeding heart, cushion spurge, and epimendium.

Best Annual Companion Plants for Spring Bulbs

Cold tolerant annuals aren't bothered by frost, so they are good partners for spring-blooming bulbs. If you live in an area with mild winters (zones 8-10), you can plant cold tolerant annuals in the fall, right on top of freshly planted bulbs. Growing cold tolerant annuals from seed is another option. Plant the seeds in September so the young plants have time to harden-off before winter. Or wait to sow the seeds until November so they don't sprout until it's closer to spring.


In colder climates (zones 3-7) cool season annuals are planted in early spring as the bulbs are emerging. Since the growing season is short, it's best to put in young plants, which are usually available from local garden centers.

Cold-tolerant annuals that pair well with spring bulbs include pansies, violas, wallflowers, alyssum, stock, and snapdragons. Others are calendula, forget-me-nots, nigella, cerinthe, bachelor’s buttons, annual lobelia, annual poppies, larkspur and Chinese forget-me-not.


Best Perennial Companion Plants for Spring Bulbs

Some perennials emerge extra early and flower at the same time as spring bulbs. Others bulk up quickly and are especially valuable for hiding yellowing bulb foliage.

Many of these bulb companions grow best in partial shade, including: primroses, Virginia bluebells, brunnera, bleeding heart, bloodroot, dutchman's breeches, trillium, and lungwort. Others that can handle more sun include lamium, hellebore, epimedium, cushion spurge, hostasferns, and lady’s mantle.


For sun-tolerant spring bulb companions, look to columbine, candytuft, dwarf bearded iris, ajuga, Oriental poppies, creeping phlox, low-growing sedums (as shown above), and hardy geraniums.


The daffodil partners shown above include hosta, cushion spurge, Japanese painted fern, dicentra, and bleeding heart. 

Plant recommendations are tricky, because the same plant can perform very differently depending on where you live. As with all things gardening, you will need to experiment. But this makes it all the more rewarding when you come up with a great match.

You can shop our complete selection of spring-blooming bulbs HERE. They are available for pre-ordering in April. Shipping begins in late September and continues through November.

For more information about gardening with spring bulbs, you may be interested in reading: How to Plan a Spring Bulb GardenBloom Time Planning Guide for Spring and Summer Bulbs, and Landscaping With Spring-Blooming Bulbs