Factors to Consider When Putting Together Plant Combinations
Make sure that the basic growing conditions preferred by the plants in the planting combination are a match. Here are the questions I ask myself before creating a combination planting:
- Do they like the same type of soil and soil pH?
- Are their watering requirements similar?
- Do they have the same sunlight needs?
- Are they matched for mature size and plant vigor? Don't plant a tiny rock garden species that grows one inch per year with a "race horse" that triples in size the first growing season and gets three feet tall.
Western gold mix Butterfly Weed and Sharon Roberts English Lavender
Plant combinations are always more satisfying when using these basic design principles:
- When room allows, plant in groups of three or five plants of each species used in the combination. It makes for a more effective visual impact than putting one of each plant together.
- Be sure to understand the best angle from which the combination will be viewed and arrange accordingly. If planted against a wall, tallest plants go to the back while the shortest ones are up front.
- Put plants together that bloom at the same time and chose complementary colors or similar hues of the same color (like a shades-of-blue combination).
Agave haavardiana contrasted with Nasella and Helictotrichon
- Contrast foliage types and colors. Blue and gray foliage are nice together. Planting fine and bold textured foliage together makes a great combo.
- Consider making a group of plants that might be found together in their native habitat. For example, a grouping of South African perennials from the Drakensberg Mountains or a sampling of short grass prairie plants from TX, OK and KS. This is a fun way to re-create regional collections from across the globe in your landscape while teaching you more about the plants and where they come from.