Maple Tree Companion Plants

Maple trees are members of the Acer genus and are known for their deeply lobed leaves that turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow during the fall. Young trees need assistance for the first couple of years to help them become established. Most varieties grow best in full to partial sun, and aside from occasional pruning, these deciduous trees are virtually maintenance-free.

Full-grown maple trees can reach up to 50 feet tall and wide, depending on the cultivar. Maples are excellent shade trees during the warm summer, but be mindful of their size when planting. These trees can cast a lot of shade, creating low-light areas ideal for plants like coral bells and begonias. Sun-loving companion plants will need to be planted further away or on the south side of the tree so they can receive plenty of sunlight.


Photo by K M, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

Shrubs To Plant With Maple Tree

Shrubs can be featured as a standalone specimen or planted in a row to define an area or create privacy. Mix and match shrubs with a maple tree to enjoy a variety of colors and textures. Rhododendron and mountain laurel are both spring-bloomers that feature pink, red, or white flowers. These colors complement maple trees and create visual interest during the spring when maples are pushing out new foliage but are not very showy.

Camelia is an adaptable evergreen shrub reaching about 6 to 8 feet tall and wide. The rose-like flowers of camellia sasanqua bloom during the fall, creating a big impact on a landscape when planted near a maple tree.

Dwarf conifers are evergreens that lend a landscape an elegant or majestic appearance. Conifers provide year-round color and texture, and the dwarf cultivars will not overtake the large maple. All of these suggested shrubs prefer acidic soil, making them a good  most maple varieties, which also prefer an acidic pH. 


Perennials To Plant With Maple Tree

Maple trees often have green or burgundy foliage during the spring and summer before the dazzling fall colors emerge. Astilbe blooms during midsummer and features bright flowers, setting the tone for the colorful display the maple will put on during the fall. The tall flower spikes provide a nice burst of color and texture. Astilbe can grow in full sun to full shade, as long as the soil is kept moist. It can live under the tree canopy or out from under the branches, making it an excellent companion for maple trees. 

Euphorbias come in all shapes and sizes and are a tough group of plants. The tiny flowers are typically white or yellow and offer long-lasting color that complements the stately maple. The euphorbia is adaptable and can live in full to partial sun, so it works well in a space shared with a large tree.

Fill in the shady areas around the base of a maple tree with coral bells. These plants have bold, colorful foliage that brighten up a dark area. Consider including the strappy foliage of Siberian iris in this planting. The thick canopy of the maple filters the sunlight, protecting these perennials from sunburn.


Photo by K M, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

Annuals To Plant With Maple Tree

Annuals are a good choice for filling in large areas with seasonal color. For the space beneath smaller maple trees, try planting begonias and pansies, which will appreciate the shade cast by the maple. Pansies commonly self-seed, and begonias are easy to propagate by cuttings, so you can keep the planting going for many years.

Best Companion Plants For Maple Tree in Containers

Young maple trees or small cultivars can live in containers. The tropical-looking canna is a lush plant with profuse foliage and flowers that bloom on top of tall stems, filling in the area around the lower regions of the tree. Smaller plants like begonias and pansies provide a nice pop of foliage and color around the tree's base and work as fillers in a shared container. 

Plants Not To Grow With Maple Tree

Consider the size of the full-grown maple tree when selecting companion plants. The dense canopy will create shade that will not support sun-loving plants like coneflowers and sedum. It is possible to feature plants that exclusively require full sun, but you need to be deliberate with planting locations to ensure each plant has the proper amount of sunlight.

Best Plants To Grow With Maple Tree

The best companions for maple trees will be adaptable because they have to share a space with a large plant that will dictate how much sunlight and water they receive. Plants that live in full to partial sun, like dwarf conifers, euphorbia, and astilbe, can easily adjust to life near a large, established maple tree.

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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 10-04-2023