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How to Find Companion Plants for Japanese Maples

Japanese maples, Acer palmatum, with their captivating bursts of gorgeous color in fall, add a touch of elegance to your landscape. Although they have plenty of intrigue on their own, there are wonderful companion plants for Japanese maples, sure to enhance their splendor in your garden.


There are a few ways to decide what plants to pair with your Japanese maple; you can select other plants that thrive in the same acidic, loamy well-drained soil; plants that can grow under the shade of the gorgeous tree’s foliage like groundcovers; and/or you can plant other trees and shrubs that have the same growing needs, USDA Zones and fall interest. These companions can complement or contrast the colors of your Japanese maple, to help bring more beauty to your yard.

Acidic soils: When searching for companion plants to add to your yard, a good way to ensure success—and help cut time of purchasing more soil—is to find other plants that flourish in the same soil as your Japanese maple. Azaleas/Rhododendrons, which bloom in gorgeous complementary colors of reds, pinks, purples, yellows and whites, are good fellow acid lovers.

Shade lovers: A great way to use up space while adding more beauty to your garden is to use the shade of your trees to grow plants that are most successful with part sun to full shade. Shade-loving plants include groundcovers such as mosses, ferns and asters. You can get creative with your color schemes and seasonal interests to help design a year-round, picturesque garden.

Other trees/shrubs: If you want more than just beautiful flowers, groundcovers and other tiny plants in your garden oasis to complement your Japanese maples, why not add more spectacular trees and shrubs? These companions can have similar or contrasting color patterns, sure to create breathtakingly colorful displays. A good addition would be dogwood trees, which have year-long appeal with their unique silhouettes showcased in winter, brilliant blossoms in spring, and enticing, colorful foliage in fall that will nicely accompany the magnificence of Japanese maple’s fall charm.

When choosing the right companion plants for your Japanese maple, it is important to consider the growing patterns, USDA Zones and compatibility with your existing plants. The tips I have offered are only suggestions to the endless possibilities there are in designing your own personal, botanical paradise. The most important thing to remember is to research. You want to make sure that the plants you are going to add are not aggressive or will not take away from the grandeur of your Japanese maples. Adding the perfect companion plants can help create eye-catching creations that will leave you feeling breathless.

Image: Azalea. Credit
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