Choosing Companion Plants to Compliment a Camellia

Pink camellia in bloom

A camellia is an evergreen shrub that is well-suited for partial shade. But the camellia is also a shallow-rooted plant that should not be planted next to large trees with invasive roots. What type of companion plants are the best choice for these garden specimens? Here are some suggestions.

Trees for Form and Texture

To compliment camellia plants in the garden, consider trees to add both texture and form. The Acer or Japanese maples, which come in small umbrella-shaped shrubs, or larger trees that grow 15 to 20 feet tall might be a good choice. Sugar maples are great for fall color but you might want to try a spruce or fir for a distinct texture, or even a Christmas fir or pine tree just for fun.

Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons and azaleas, which are members of the rhododendron family, make ideal companion plants for camellia varieties in the garden. Whether the camellia is a compact shrub or one of the larger, branching varieties or tree, the spectacular colors of the azalea and rhododendron provide non-stop visual appeal. Rhododendron has been called the shrub for all seasons. It is evergreen in winter, shows off spring flowers, and has deep green leaves in summer and fall. Evergreen and deciduous azaleas provide a riot of color and delightfully fragrant blooms as well as rich-looking foliage. There are 26 species of rhododendron native to North America and 16 species of azalea. So, there are plenty of choices to select from to add that little extra zip around the camellia.


magnolia tree

Magnolia, available either as a small 8-foot shrub or a tall tree (growing as high as 100 feet), further compliments camellia in the garden. There are more than 30 species of magnolia and numerous cultivars and hybrids. Flowers range in color from purple to pink and yellow to white and their leaves are ornamental. Some magnolias have showy flowers for nine months of the year, followed by orange or red fruits in fall, and gray or dark brown bark for winter color and texture.

Other Companion Plants to Consider

The American Camellia Society has contributing articles by experts who grow camellias. Some of their favorite camellia companion plants include these plants that bloom at the same time:

  • Witch hazel
  • Korean forsythia
  • Daphne
  • Forsythia
  • Fragrant honeysuckle bush

Spring-flowering companion plants include:

  • Crocus
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodils
  • Bleeding heart
  • Epimedium
  • Hellebore
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Virginia bluebells
  • Phlox
  • Pansies
  • Primrose
  • Pulmonaria
  • Wood poppy
  • Creeping viburnum

Fall-flowering companion plants can be selected from:

  • Aster
  • Anemone
  • Monkshood
  • Bearded iris
  • Sedum
  • Ferns
  • Japanese forest grass

Some experts suggest including companion plants that prefer full sun, such as:

Peony bouquet

  • Dusty Miller
  • Coreopsis
  • Ice plant
  • Dianthus
  • Coneflower
  • Lavender
  • Peonies
  • Russian sage
  • Penstemon
  • Rosemary
  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Salvia
  • Thyme

Companion plants to camellias can accent height, depth, and beauty in the garden. Tulips and forget-me-nots, as well as colorful hydrangeas, sasanquas, japonicas, daylilies, crepe myrtle, roses, and gardenias also make nice choices.

With careful planning and attention to shape, size, texture, color, and form, companion plants can maximize the camellia’s spectacular effect.