It’s easy to see why hydrangeas have long been a staple in southern gardens.

Ideal for the shady border, hydrangeas are happiest when located where they receive morning sun and afternoon shade. However, they will tolerate a good bit of sun, provided they receive adequate moisture.

With their big, billowy blooms, mophead selections of Hydrangea macrophylla are excellent both in the garden and for flower arrangements. Typically, the blooms are blue when the plants are grown in acidic soil, and pink when the soil is alkaline.

‘Big Daddy’ and Dear Dolores™ are two selections sure to delight. ‘Big Daddy’ Hydrangea’s 12- to 14-inch blooms will turn heads both in the landscape and indoors as cut flowers. Dear Dolores™ is a warm weather stunner, re-blooming spring through fall.

For a cohesive design, plant ‘Big Daddy’ and Dear Dolores™ with other trees, shrubs and perennials. When planning, think of your design as painting with plants to create lovely

Big Daddy Hydrangea Dear Dolores Hydrangea

Here are some tips for selecting plants that will complement your hydrangeas:

1. Start with the canopy layer.

Choose medium-sized trees, like Empress of China® Dogwood, to provide light shade and offer handsome flowers, foliage and bark.

Empress of China Dogwood

The Delta™ Series of crapemyrtles add rich appeal with burgundy foliage and vivid, colorful blooms all summer.

Delta Series Crapemyrtles

Or, shape one of the hollies from our collection – Oakland™, Robin™ or ‘Scarlet’s Peak.’ These evergreen beauties offer a perfect anchor of waxy, deep green foliage with a pop of red color when berries appear.

Oakland Holly Robin Holly Scarlet's Peak Holly

2. Plant a mixture of evergreen and deciduous shrubs to create a dynamic display.

Yewtopia® Plum Yew is evergreen and provides a strong vertical accent.

Yewtopia Plum Yew

Or consider a more compact shrub like ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia. This graceful evergreen offers fine, textured, almost feathery foliage – a perfect contrast to the wide leaves of the hydrangeas.

Soft Caress Mahonia

For more formal gardens, consider boxwoods like Baby Gem™. It is ideal for edging or planting in groups as evergreen anchors. You may also grow Baby Gem™ in containers, allowing it to serve as a transportable accent.

Baby Gem Boxwood

Finally, for fragrance and pure white blooms, mix in ScentAmazing™ and Jubilation™ Gardenias for multisensory appeal.

ScentAmazing Gardenia Jubilation Gardenia

3. The carpet layer.

Plant groundcovers, bulbs or both under your hydrangeas.

Purple Pixie® Loropetalum works well as a groundcover, and adds a nice pop of purple foliage, which will complement the both the leaves and blooms of the hydrangeas.

Purple Pixie Loropetalum

Also consider perennials like ‘Twilight’ and ‘Solar Eclipse’ Heucherella. ‘Twilight’ Heucherella’s sophisticated charcoal hue and velvety texture will lend elegance as an underplanting or groundcover, while ‘Solar Eclipse’ Heucherella’s citrus-hued border will look fresh paired with the bright hues of the hydrangeas.

Twilight Heucherella Solar Eclipse Heucherella

If you’re seeking a bright, floral accent, try Evergreen Stella™ Daylily. Its sunny yellow blooms will beautifully contrast against the blue blooms of hydrangeas in acidic soil. Both will brighten your garden all summer long.

Evergreen Stella Daylily

Remember – don’t limit yourself. Think of every season and choose a variety of plants to grow with your hydrangeas. Not sure where to start? We’re here to help with a large selection of plants that are bound to please!