Spring Planting Partners

Spark a riot of color in your spring garden and find strength in numbers with these made-for-each-other planting companions.

Sculpture Garden

Shape and texture create living art in this combination.

Paired here: Pink Impression Tulips and Ostrich Fern

Why it works: Delicate ferns pair well with the bold shape and color of tulips.

Spring Planting Tip: For an equally striking contrast, use a delicate bulb such as grape hyacinth with large-leaf plants such as heuchera.

Midas Touch

A carpet of foliage sets the stae for a showy bloom.

Paired here: Bellona Tulip and Golden Tiara Hosta

Why it works: Yellow blossoms cheerfully play off the variegated hosta foliage beneath. Tulips don't always return reliably; try daffodils for a more lasting option.

Purple Passion

Perennials and bulbs create the perfect pairing of leaf and bloom.

Paired here: Purple Voice and Woodstock Hyacinth and Husker Red Penstemon

Why it works: In addition to the lovely leaf-and-bloom combo, the penstemon will flower later in the season, giving this planting two color peaks.

Spring Gala

Overwinter pansies for no-fall colorful combos.

Paired here: Aprictor Whirl Narcissus and Orange Matrix Pansy

Spring planting tip: Plant bulbs and pansies together in fall, pansies right on top. When blubs bloom, the pansies will be there waiting, for a can't-miss duo.

Use Colorful Foliage

Add eye-catching appeal to your spring garden by creating contrasts. Here, the rich purple Japanese maple foliage makes a stunning partner to pure white tulips.

Test Garden Tip: Continue the effect by adding other white flowers that bloom later in the season, such as astilbe, coral bells, and toad lily.

Employ Variegated Foliage

Plants with chartreuse foliage make a big bang on their own -- but become an absolute work of art when paired with purple or blue, as seen with this variegated boxwood and allium.

Test Garden Tip: Other great plants with glowing golden foliage include 'Chardonnay Pearls' deutzia, 'Goldheart' bleeding heart, and 'Sweet Kate' spiderwort.

Start Early

Spring-blooming bulbs aren't the only source of start-of-the-season color; mix in a few early flowering perennials. Try tiny crocus in a bed of forget-me-nots, for example.

Test Garden Tip: While blue forget-me-nots are the most popular, you can create this look with pink-flowering types and pink crocus, or white forget-me-nots with white crocus.

Mix Early Favorites

Tuck in some cool-season annuals such as viola, nemesia, and stock with your favorite bulbs. These purple violas look great with almost everything, but are amazing with 'Valerie Finnis' grape hyacinths.

Test Garden Tip: Make garden magic by tossing in some yellow violas or pansies. Soft yellows pair well with this grape hyacinth; bolder, buttery yellows look great with the viola.

Play Off Colors

Peachy-pink and yellow 'Fokker Fan Fan' tulips pick up the tones of this floriferous spring azalea perfectly. A carpet of violas finishes it off.

Test Garden Tip: If you love this look but deer are a problem in your area, try daffodils that feature a peachy-pink cup. Some top selections include 'Sentinel', 'Vie en Rose', and 'Pink Silk'.

Extend Your Season of Interest

Lovely creeping phlox puts on a big show for a few weeks in spring. Keep your garden looking great by mixing it with longer-blooming plants, such as this yellow lamium.

Test Garden Tip: Go bolder by mixing in a lamium with chartreuse foliage, such as 'Golden Anniversary'.

Make a Big Impact

Expand your garden's horizons by mixing spring trees, shrubs, and vines for impact. Here, for example, wisteria adds structure and grace to the garden while forming a perfect backdrop for colorful azaleas.

Test Garden Tip: For another stellar spring combo later in the season, try flowering dogwood with tree peony.

First-Rate Foliage

Texture is tops with this pair of early-spring bloomers. The finely dissected foliage of poppy anemones softens the tulips' rigid, straplike leaves. Butter yellow tulips and deep purple anemones are a four-star show in the garden, and they put on an equally stellar performance in a vase.

Test Garden Tip: For even bigger impact, try a tulip with variegated foliage, such as 'Unicum' or 'New Design'.

Include Fragrance

Make truly memorable plant combinations by including fragrance. Here, sweetly scented hyacinths add to a planting of blue grape hyacinth and chartreuse-blooming Euphorbia polychroma.

Test Garden Tip: If deer or rabbits are a problem in your area, try hiding plants they like in a planting of euphorbia, daffodils, or other varieties the critters pass by.

Add Color to Shade

Few perennials are more elegant than bleeding heart. Create a first-class combination by mixing it with a white-edged hosta such as 'Patriot'.

Test Garden Tip: Add a white astilbe or two to extend the season of interest and create a fun contrast in foliage textures.

Create All-White Elegance

Columbine and bleeding heart are perfect partners. Make a classic combination by using a white variety of each. This plant pairing will surely stand out in the middle of a shady garden.

Test Garden Tip: Add in an all-white fernleaf bleeding heart, such as 'Aurora', or white coral bells to extend the look.

Play with Plant Shapes

Don't overlook plant habits. Here, a gracefully arching bleeding heart looks like fireworks planted with low-growing pink and white primroses.

Test Garden Tip: Make this even more fun by growing a pink old-fashioned bleeding heart underplanted with white primroses.

Enjoy Late-Spring Combos

Peonies and giant alliums are made for each other and create the perfect pairing to bid farewell to spring.

Test Garden Tip: A favorite late-spring combination in the Test Garden is a white-flowering rugosa rose and single white peony.

Make Woodland Magic

Foamflower is a sweet little ground cover for shady spots -- its fairy-wand-like flowers seem to sparkle. It's a natural partner for primroses and tiny claytonia flowers.

Test Garden Tip: Foamflowers come in two categories, clumping and running. Pick the best one for your space.

Add Color to Partial Shade

Need something for those pesky areas that get a little too much light for shade-loving plants, but not enough for your sun worshipers? Try this pairing of lovely blue campanula, chartreuse lady's mantle, and bright golden yellow tulips.

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