St. John's Wort Companion Plants

Hot and dry gardens are no challenge for tough low-growing shrubs like St. John’s wort. This plant will grow in a wide range of soil conditions and never fails to provide nectar for beneficial pollinators. St. John's wort requires full sun to bloom profusely over many weeks. The red berries produced by this shrub also make it a valuable food source for overwintering wildlife in the garden. Other shrubs and perennials can be effectively planted with St. John’s wort in wildlife gardens, cottage gardens, or open meadow plantings. 


Photo by cultivar413, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

Shrubs To Plant With St John’s Wort

The informal and often low-growing shape of St. John’s wort blends into informal mixed or native shrub hedges. Use the glaucous leaves of St. John’s wort for contrast against purple sand cherries, snowberries, or mountain laurels. Mix St. John’s wort in a foundation planting with other evergreen shrubs for seasonal interest including flowers and berries. The low profile of St. John’s wort works well in front of hedges of boxwood, junipers, yew, or Chinese holly. 

Perennials To Plant With St John’s Wort

Native and wildlife-friendly perennials are wonderful to plant with St. John's wort to encourage visits from local pollinators and small animals. The flowers are very attractive to nectar sippers, while the berries are used for food throughout the winter months by non-migratory birds and other small mammals. Black-eyed Susan, Russian sage, wood’s aster, bleeding hearts, bergamot, coneflowers, columbine, and ornamental grasses all thrive in the same conditions as St. John’s wort and would make for an easy-to-care-for garden bed. Alternatively, perennial ground covers like wild strawberry, moss phlox, and creeping sedums are perfect for suppressing weeds and acting like a living mulch underneath and near St. John’s wort.

Annuals To Plant With St John’s Wort

Planting annuals with St. John’s wort provides long-lasting color long after the shrubs have finished blooming. Choose a contrasting color that highlights the sunny yellow flowers or bright red berries of St. John’s wort. Larger plants such as ageratum, calendula, sunflowers, cosmos, and zinnias all grow well in full sun with little maintenance. They also prefer to dry out in between waterings and can handle a wide range of soil types.  Low-growing moss rose and French marigolds are also very low maintenance and can be grown as an edging plant or ground cover with St. John’s wort in hard-to-grow areas of the garden. 


Photo by cultivar413, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

Best Companion Plants For St John’s Wort in Containers

Use small shrub varieties of St. John’s wort in mixed containers. Many of these varieties have colorful foliage and bright berries that pair well with other colorful plants including coral bells, sedum, and coleus. The spreading, groundcover variety of St. John’s wort may outcompete its companions in a pot and is best planted alone. 

Pots of St. John’s wort require excellent drainage and can be moved around the garden as needed to fill in empty spots when other seasonal plants are finished for the year. Containers will need to watered regularly during the summer, as the root systems grow to fill the pots.

Plants Not To Grow With St John’s Wort

The only plants that will not grow well with St. John’s wort are those that require wet or shady conditions. Planting St. John’s wort with boggy or pond plants like cattails, flag iris, and papyrus will not be successful. St. John’s wort needs good drainage and time to dry out in between watering sessions. Plants that thrive in low light and shaded locations are also not great companions for St. John’s wort. Ferns, hostas, and hellebores will not tolerate full sun and may burn next to St. John’s wort.

Best Plants To Grow With St John’s Wort

The best companions for St. John’s wort are those that share its preferences for heat and dry soil, and its naturally wild good looks. Use St. John’s wort to anchor plantings in gravel gardens, as its bright yellow flowers nicely contrast the blues and purples of alliums, Russian sage, lilies, and ornamental prairie grasses. These durable shrubs also work well lining pathways, driveways, or sidewalks, and can be paired with annuals like ageratum, moss rose, and marigolds.

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Author Robbin Small - Published 10-17-2023