Lily Companion Plants

Asiatic Lilies are most often planted to be the focal point of a mixed perennial garden border or container. Their tall stems and dramatic flowers appeal to beneficial pollinators and gardeners alike. Combining these beauties with other garden staples such as shrubs, herbaceous perennials, and annuals can be a little intimidating for some. Picking the right growing companions not only depends on the soil, sunlight, and moisture available, but also on the aggressiveness of the plants. Lilies do not compete well with vigorously growing plants. 

Some gardeners have difficulty with Asiatic Lilies ‘disappearing’ from their gardens altogether. Often this is a result of other perennials or shrubs growing taller than the Lilies and shading them out, or the Lilies aren’t able to break through dense mats of roots from ground covers and other perennials growing nearby. Regular dividing of the surrounding plants will help to tame aggressive root systems, although gardeners may want to choose plants with shallower and less aggressive root systems to grow near Lilies. Select companion plants that thrive in the same growing conditions as Asiatic Lilies: full sun, well-draining soil, moderate water, and acidic to slightly alkaline soil pH. 


Shrubs To Plant With Lily

Asiatic Lilies combine well with most late spring or summer blooming shrubs. Most Lilies are at their best from May to July. Their large, often brightly colored flowers can be used to contrast the blooms of Viburnum, Weigela, and Hydrangea. Lavender is a wonderful companion for Lilies. The cool blues and silvery foliage of Lavender work well in a relaxing, complementary palette of white, pale pink, or other pastel shades of Lilies, or can accentuate the hot oranges and reds of Tiger Lilies and some Oriental Lilies. The deeply colored foliage and ethereal blooms of Smoke Bush are a great backdrop for taller varieties of Lilies, especially those that bloom later in the season. Keep in mind the mature height of any shrub planted with Lilies. Tall shrubs that block the sun at lower levels will restrict the growth and blooming of Lilies. Lilies grow best with low-growing shrubs.

Perennials To Plant With Lily

The most important consideration for choosing perennials to plant with Lilies is the root system. Herbaceous perennials with dense mats of fibrous roots are not good candidates. Other perennial bulbs such as early spring Daffodils, Tulips, Snow Drops, or Ornamental Allium have shallow roots and pair well with Lilies. The spring bulbs provide early color, and as they die back, Lilies do a great job of hiding their fading foliage. 

Other summer-blooming perennials, like Agastache, Echinops, and Salvia have well-behaved root systems that do not inhibit the growth of the more fragile Lily bulbs. Daylilies can be planted with Asiatic Lilies if there is plenty of room between plants. Daylilies are fast-spreading plants that will need to be divided regularly to keep them from overtaking the Asiatic Lily bulbs. 

Annuals To Plant With Lily

Pair with Asiatic Lilies with annual plants that grow well with less water during the summer. Cosmos, Dianthus, Snapdragons, and Pansy do not require much supplemental watering and love a full sun location. The best ground covers to combine with Lilies have shallow and thin roots. Consider Alyssum, Lobelia, or Petunias, which have brilliant color and will remain in bloom for the entire growing season. California Poppies or Nigella have lovely ferny foliage that does not compete with Lilies  for light, making them another good annual option. 


Best Companion Plants For Lily in Containers

Planted in containers, Lilies are the perfect thriller element of a mixed seasonal planting. The Lily bulbs can be planted deeper in a container than they normally would be in the garden. This allows you to add both perennials and annuals to the planter without fear of overwhelming the Lily bulb. Select container companions that prefer full sun (or part shade), moderate fertility, and good drainage. Some fillers that would fit the criteria are Coral Bells, Columbine, and Cranesbill. Spillers should have shallow roots and not be overly aggressive in their spreading habit. Alyssum, Calibrachoa, and Ivy leaf Geraniums will add interesting form and color with Lilies.

Plants Not To Grow With Lily

Lilies will not tolerate ground covers that are overly aggressive or form dense mats. English Ivy, Sweet Potato Vine, and Violets become too dense for Lilies to grow through. Dense ground cover can also harbor slugs and snails that consider Lilies to be one of their favorite snacks. Avoid companions that grow taller than Lilies. Plants that require full shade or damp soils are also not good companion choices. Do not plant Clematis or any other climbing plant near Lilies. Most varieties of Lily do not have tough enough stems to support vines, no matter if they are annual or perennial. 

Best Plants To Grow With Lily







Coral Bells

Coral Bells

Lilies are regal and dramatic and tend to steal the show in any garden. The best plants to pair with these perennial bulbs will provide a backdrop to set off the show. Look for plants that tolerate drier soils and full sun, and have an interesting element (foliage shape, flower color, seed head) that lasts all season.

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Author Robbin Small - Published 9-04-2023