15 Companion Plants to Grow With Tulips This Season

Looking for the perfect companions to grow with your tulips this season? There are many different plants that grow quite well alongside these popular flowers. In this article, certified master gardener Liz Jaros looks at her favorite tulip companion plants for your garden this seaason.

tulip companions


A delight to the senses when they return each spring, tulips are a beautiful garden force all on their own. But there are a few reasons why you might want to think about getting them some friends.

Since tulips will only bloom for a few weeks in early, mid, or late spring, you may want to work some plants into the landscape that will complement and overlap their bloom time. An explosion of tulips is lovely, but a slow rolling flower show is the stuff of gardener dreams. This can be achieved with other spring flowering bulbs as well as select perennial and annual plants.

Another major priority with tulips is preserving the foliage until it has died back completely. Although they will be done blooming in spring, their foliage will stay green until June or July in most climates. During this time period, tulip leaves are vital to manufacturing food for the underground bulb, and cutting them back will result in diminished bloom quality next season.

Since floppy, browning tulip leaves are not exactly pleasing to the eye, you should select companion plants that will help hide or camouflage them until their work is done. Read on for some tulip companion options that will both complement their moment in the sun and hide their inevitable fade from glory.


Close-up of purple spring Crocus sativus blooming with visible orange pollen in bright sunlight in early spring. This is a low, not higher than 10 cm, plant with very narrow linear leaves, wrapped down the sides, and bell-funnel-shaped single flowers of purple color. The background is slightly blurred.
Crocuses prefer full sun and tolerate any type of soil.
Scientific Name: Crocus sativus
  • Plant type: Perennial bulb
  • Size: 6 inches tall, 1-3 inches wide
  • Bloom time: Early spring
  • Exposure: Full to part sun
  • Hardiness: 3-8

Often the first flowers to pop their heads through melting snow in spring, crocus are small in stature with tube-shaped flowers in hues of pink, yellow, purple, and white. Depending on which tulip variety they’re being paired with, crocus will likely precede and overlap your tulips’ bloom time.

Averaging 6 inches in height and spreading naturally over the course of a few seasons, crocus will fill in nicely around your tulips’ feet and hang out just below their flower heads. Like tulips, they prefer full sun and do not like overly wet conditions. But they are easy to grow and tolerate a lot of different soil types.

Grape Hyacinth

Close-up of about 20 Muscari armeniacum flowers blooming in a flower bed in spring. Low-growing flowers consist of inflorescences resembling a bunch of grapes, light purple. Bright green foliage and stems. Slightly blurred floral abstract natural background.
Grape hyacinth is the perfect plant to pair with tulips in both looks, and lack of nutrient competition.
Scientific Name: Muscari armeniacum
  • Plant type: Perennial bulb
  • Size: 6-9 inches tall, 3-6 inches wide
  • Bloom Time: Early spring
  • Exposure: Full to part sun
  • Hardiness: 4-8

Dainty in size but large in personality, grape hyacinth is also at home in a bed of tulips. With singular stalks resembling asparagus spears or clusters of mini grapes, this perennial blooms in early spring and comes in colors of blue, pink, purple, white, and yellow.

Plant grape hyacinth in large quantities at about 3 inches apart. They will spread through your beds like wildfire in subsequent years, so only plant them in areas where they do not need to be contained.

Grape hyacinths also do well in container gardens with tulips, crocus, daffodils, and other spring bulbs. They require about 10 weeks of dormancy to flower next season, so make sure these winter needs are met.


Close-up of large white and yellow daffodils blooming in the garden. The narcissus flower consists of a tubular perianth with six white petals, inside the perianth is a yellow crown, and inside the crown are six stamens. Daffodils are held on strong green stems. The background is slightly blurred spring garden.
Bright blooming daffodils pair beautifully with blooming tulips due to their unique tubular shape.
Scientific Name: Narcissus
  • Plant type: Perennial, bulb
  • Size: 4-20 inches tall, 6-12 inches wide
  • Bloom time: Early spring
  • Exposure: Full to part sun
  • Hardiness: 3-9

Also an early bloomer, daffodils come in cheerful shades of yellow and pair well with tulips that are pink, purple, red, or white. They are similar in height, but have a unique, trumpet shape that provides a nice visual contrast to the tulip’s sleek, classic form.

Like tulips, they need full sun and good drainage. Daffodils spread by clumping rather than seed, which makes them slightly easier to control than their early spring peers, grape hyacinth and crocus.


Close-up of giant alliums blooming in the garden against a blurred background. The flower has almost perfectly round umbrellas with a diameter of about 4-7 cm. In the center of the star-shaped and wine-red flowers are spectacular dark anthers located on purple stamens. There are many flowering bulbs in the background.
Allium blooms in late spring with spherical bright purple, pink or white flowers.
Scientific Name: Allium
  • Plant type: Perennial, bulb
  • Size: 1-4 feet tall, 3-10 inches wide
  • Bloom time: Late spring, early summer
  • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Hardiness: 3-9

Often referred to as ‘ornamental onions,’ allium bloom in late spring to early summer. Their stems are sturdy and leafless, ranging in height from 6 inches to 4 feet. Their blooms are bold and spherical in vibrant colors of pink, purple, whites, and reds. They typically flower for a long time, with some varieties lasting four weeks.

Planting allium alongside tulips will give you some variation in height and texture. They will typically be opening up just when tulips are beginning to fade, so your beds will be timed for continuous color.


Close-up of Viola wittrockiana Gams ex Kappert blooming in a summer garden. The flowers are large in diameter, solitary, and formed in the axils of the leaves. Bright purple petals turn into bright yellow towards the middle of the flower, dark purple spots are located closer to the center. Bright green foliage is oval below and narrows at the top, with crenate edges. Slightly blurred floral background.
These bright yellow-purple pansies are great with any flowers in your garden, including tulips.
Scientific Name: Viola x wittrockiana
  • Plant type: Annual, perennial
  • Size: 6-9 inches tall, 9-12 inches wide
  • Bloom time: Spring to early summer
  • Exposure: Full sun to part sun
  • Hardiness: 2-9

These cold tolerant gems keep perfect company with tulips and other spring bulbs. Featuring a complementary yellow and purple color palette and a low profile in beds and boxes, pansies make great groundcover for tulip beds.

Pansies can weather a late spring snow or frost in colder zones and will bloom steadily until temps rise and the sun gets stronger. In regions that do not have intense heat, they may thrive for an entire season. In warmer climates, if they are given some shade, pansies will throw seed in fall and may return perennially. But maybe not where you want them to be!


Close-up of bright red blooming snapdragon flowers in a sunny garden. The flowers are fragrant, rather large, irregular, two-lipped, collected in spike-shaped inflorescences, bright red. Blooming red snapdragon flowers are on a slightly blurred background.
Snapdragon grows well in cooler climates producing gorgeous little flowers in large clusters of red, yellow, white, purple, etc.
Scientific Name: Antirrhinum majus
  • Plant type: Annual, perennial
  • Size: 6-12 inches wide, 6 inches to 4 feet high
  • Bloom time: Spring to mid summer
  • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Grow Zone: Perennial, 7-11

With small, throated blooms of white, yellow, pink, red, orange, purple and violet, snapdragon enjoy cool spring temperatures, just like tulips.

In colder climates, snapdragons can be worked into a tulip patch as seedlings or nursery transplants to create a nice spring display of color and form. In warmer regions, perennial snaps will emerge from the ground around tulip stems to bloom shortly after their cycle is complete.

Shasta Daisy

A lot of snow-white daisies blooming in the summer garden against the backdrop of green foliage. The flowers consist of a bright yellow core and elongated snow-white petals. They are collected in baskets in small groups, making the flowering seem lush.
Daisies bloom later than tulips, which will allow them show off their flowers against the background of green tulip foliage.
Scientific Name: Leucanthemum x superbum
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Size: 9 inches to 3 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Bloom time: Mid to late summer
  • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Grow Zone: 5-9

Sunflowers make the list of suitable tulip companions because they wake up later than spring blooming perennials and will hide fading tulip foliage as they grow. Since tulip leaves can’t be cut down until they have completely died back, seasoned gardeners use cover plants to hide them.

Shasta’s leathery, dark green foliage fills in naturally around spent tulip greens and eventually gives way to an abundance of cheerful, white flowers with sunny yellow centers. Since daisies also take full sun and require good drainage, they are natural bedfellows for tulips.


Close-up of a bright pink Zinnia Dahlia flower against a background of green leaves in a summer garden. The zinnia flower is bright pink, rounded, multi-layered, in the form of a pom-pom. Bright red center with bright yellow stamens around the contour. Blurred floral background.
Zinnias produce incredibly beautiful rounded, layered, pom-pom-shaped flowers in the brightest colors.
Scientific Name: Zinnia elegans
  • Plant type: Annual
  • Size: 1-4 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Bloom time: Spring to fall
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Grow Zone: 2-11

Packing a tropical punch with large, vivid flower heads of red, yellow, orange, pink, and white, zinnias can be planted between tulips when they are beginning to fade. Sprouts will grow quickly and fill in nicely above your retiring tulips’ droopy foliage.

Their blooms are multi-layered and round. Some zinnias have a pompom shape, while others are more flat. They bloom in beautiful bright colors, and their central disks will attract many different pollinators.

Requiring the same heavy dose of sunshine and good drainage conditions, zinnias can be low spreading and carpet-like or tall and leggy. Their root systems are not extensive and will not interfere with tulip bulbs below ground.


Close-up of a daylily blooming in a summer garden. The daylily flower is beautiful, large, and funnel-shaped on a strong peduncle, similar to lily flowers. The flower is bright orange with a bright yellow throat and protruding long stamens. Two unopened buds are on the same daylily branch. Slightly blurred green background.
Daylily flowers have elongated, trumpet-shaped petals that are bright orange in color.

Scientific Name: Hemerocallis

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Size: 1 to 4 feet tall and wide
  • Bloom time: Late spring to mid summer
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Grow Zone: 3-9

Another great choice for camouflaging old tulip foliage, daylilies have long, strappy leaves that cascade out from a central clump. Flowers feature elongated, trumpet shaped petals and they bloom for just one day. Traditional daylilies flower in yellow but newer cultivars bloom in shades of purple, pink, red, and white.

Daylilies will begin to grow while your tulips are flowering, and they will exceed them in height right when you need them to. Give them plenty of sun and divide/replant every few years to prevent them from imposing on tulip bulbs below ground.


Close-up of bright orange nasturtium flowers against green foliage. Orange-red nasturtium flowers consist of five velvety petals, a corolla and a brightly colored calyx. This cup of nasturtium has the appearance of a long spur, resembling a hood. The leaves are shield-shaped, with white veins coming from the center, like small umbrellas.
Nasturtiums, with their incredibly bright flowers and spectacular green foliage, are able to well cover the wilted foliage of tulips.
Scientific Name: Tropaeolum majus
  • Plant type: Annual, perennial
  • Size: 1-10 feet tall, 1-3 feet wide
  • Bloom time: Early summer to fall
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Grow Zone: Annual 4-8, Perennial 9-11

Nasturtium grows quickly from seed and can be sown directly into tulip beds in late spring, when all danger of frost has passed. With mounds of dark green, peltate (shield-shaped) leaves that can reach widths of up to 4 inches, nasturtium’s foliage is mound-like in habit and will cover faded bulb foliage well.

The genus contains about 80 species, ranging from small, 1 foot specimens to rambling 10 foot vines. Flowers are typically yellow, orange, or red and last until the first frost. As an added bonus, nasturtium are known to repel aphids, a major tulip foe. These flowers are also edible, with a somewhat peppery taste similar to watercress.


Close-up of hosta blooming in the garden. The leaves of the host are bright green, basal, lanceolate, almost rounded with a slightly wrinkled texture and pronounced veins. Peduncles at the host are high, up to 100 cm, slightly leafy, they bear a racemose inflorescence. The perianth of the flower is bell-shaped, lilac. Some of the leaves are in full sun and some are in shade.
Hosta prefers to grow in minimal or dappled lighting.
Scientific Name: Hosta
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Size: 1-5 feet tall and wide
  • Bloom time: Late summer
  • Exposure: Part shade
  • Grow Zone: 3-11

Since hosta requires minimal or dappled light and will not do well in hot, direct sun, it may seem odd that hostas can make nice bedfellows for tulips. But the two actually work quite well together under tree canopies that are late to leaf out.

Ranging in size and variety from very small to ridiculously large, hosta can have a background presence in your landscape or rise up to steal the show. They are easy to grow and will return faithfully for many years to come.

Consider hosta when you’re working with early spring tulips that require full sun early in the season, but will be shaded soon after they’re done blooming. Browning tulip leaves will still get enough sun to store up energy for next year and your hosta will cover them up completely.


Close-up of blooming Marigolds in the summer garden. The flowers are double, bright orange with a yellow center. The petals are slightly ruffled at the ends. One green bud of unopened marigold grows along with blooming flowers. Slightly blurred background of blooming marigolds.
Marigolds produce magnificent bright flowers that can repel many pests.
Scientific Name: Tagetes spp.
  • Plant type: Annual
  • Size: 4 inches to 4 feet tall, 6 inches to 2 feet wide
  • Bloom time: Spring to fall
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Grow Zone: 2-11

Reliable season-long bloomers in vivid hues of orange and yellow, marigolds are known for being both disease and pest deterrent. With their fern-like foliage and a healthy affinity for the hot sun sun, marigolds are perfect to pair with your tulips.

Easy to grow and tolerant of imperfect soil conditions, marigolds won’t compete with your tulips for root space. Nursery bought sprouts or self-started seedlings can be popped in between tulip stems after they’re finished blooming and they will grow quickly to fill in around faded leaves.

Choose varieties from the African marigold family (Tagetes erecta), since they’re taller and can be pinched into a more bushier form. Deadhead diligently and they will continue to flower beautifully until first frost.

Sweet Alyssum

A close-up of a blooming Alyssum in a summer garden. A loose inflorescence in the form of a brush with small snow-white flowers. A yellow core stands out in contrast in the center of the bud. The background of green foliage is slightly blurred.
Delicate flowers of Sweet Alyssum contrast beautifully with large bright tulips.
Scientific Name: Lobularia maritima
  • Plant type: Annual
  • Size: 3-9 inches tall, 6-12 inches wide
  • Bloom time: Spring to fall
  • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Grow Zone: 5-9

A blanket of dainty white flowers come and go all season when sweet alyssum is worked into the landscape. When planted in pots alongside tulips, alyssum will mound and cascade over their sides in a spiller effect. When planted in garden beds, alyssum spreads out in a circular clump.

Alyssum’s diminutive flowers contrast nicely with tulips’ big, bold petals. Its smaller size and fluffy flower profile provide will help shade your tulips’ feet. Retiring tulip leaves can be rolled down and hidden beneath their mounds.


Looking for the perfect companions to grow with your tulips this season? There are many different plants that grow quite well alongside these popular flowers. In this article, certified master gardener Liz Jaros looks at her favorite tulip companion plants for your garden this seaason.
This groundcover with bright pink flowers pairs well with tulips as it has low growing requirements.
Scientific Name: Dianthus
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Size: 6-36 inches tall, 6-24 inches wide
  • Bloom time: Spring to fall
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Grow Zone: 3-9

Also known as ‘pinks’ due to their color palette and sheared petal edges, dianthus are repeat bloomers with a soft, bluish foliage that behaves like a groundcover. They pair nicely with tulips since these perennials have a low profile and similar growing requirements.

Dianthus are beautiful in rock gardens and at the front of borders. They also grow well in containers, should you want to work them into an above ground arrangement that includes tulips and other spring flowering bulbs.


Close-up of blooming bright pink sedum flowers. Umbrella-shaped inflorescences, with star-shaped and decorative bright pink flowers. The alternate leaves are rather large, fleshy and sessile. Slightly blurred background.
Sedum blooms throughout the fall and requires minimal maintenance.
Scientific Name: Hylotelephium
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Size: 1-2 feet tall, 3-4 feet wide
  • Bloom time: Fall
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Grow Zone: 3-11

Think of tulips and sedum as seasonal bookends. Tulips kick things off with a bang and sedum shuts things down with a whisper. Sedum is fairly easy to identify. It has succulent like foliage with rose-colored flower heads. It blooms late in the summer and will last through the fall.

Resistant to disease and insects, sedum is about as low maintenance as you can get. Its foliage will hide fading tulip leaves as it fills in. Sedum’s flowers will often last through the winter depending on your hardiness zone, providing food for birds and foragers.

Final Thoughts

Before you spend a crisp, autumnal afternoon popping tulip bulbs into holes like a mad squirrel readying for winter, take some time to consider how a few companion plants might help round out the garden next year.

Determine how the sun conditions might change in your tulip beds as the season progresses, and plan to accommodate for the difference. Evaluate the timing of your tulip blooms and decide whether they might need early or late support from some flowering friends. And definitely incorporate some plants into the master plan that will provide coverage for your tulips’ fading foliage.

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