Companion Plants for PCI

Since PCI grow in part shade to full sun in the Pacific Northwest, there is a wide range of companion plants to consider. Keep in mind that PCIs prefer a neutral to acidic soil, so companion plants will need similar conditions.

The larger growing PCIs, usually with munzii or douglasiana genes, work well in combination with larger Rhododendrons and deciduous Azaleas. The smaller growing hybrids work well with dwarf Rhododendrons and evergreen Azaleas. In all cases, be sure not to bury the base of the Rhody or Azalea! They tend to pout if their base can't breathe.

Ferns can add some great contrasts in foliage color and texture. Maidenhair (Adiantum) adds a light, delicate texture, while the red-stemmed fern (Anthyrium felix-femina 'Lady in Red') adds striking color in the early growing season.

Hostas add some divergent foliage to a Pacific Coast iris bed. There are many options available that vary in leaf size, shape and color patterns, plus some have a pleasant, sweet scent when they bloom. Just as bearded irises are categorized, so are Hostas. Hostas are classified as mini, dwarf, small, medium, large and extra-large. We prefer the smaller sized varieties since they don't take up a lot of space but still provide some abundant diversity.

For those who grow PCI in the drought-tolerant fashion, Lewisia are ideal for providing striking foliage contrast due to their succulent appearance. Their bright pastel flowers add festive highlights to the garden.

Hardy Fuchsias are always a great addition to the garden. Just like PCI, their sun tolerance can vary, but with the plethora of hybrids available, there will be at least one that can provide the summer-long floral display the Fuchsias are well know for. 'Debron's Black Cherry' is one of our favorites!

For some late spring and summer color and foliage contrast, "dwarf" Daylilies are a great addition to a PCI bed, especially where there is a lot of sun.

While we tend to prefer perennials for their longevity and low maintenance, for annual impact, Impatiens are wonderful, colorful companions for the summer months, especially around newly planted divisions that just have a few fans. Impatiens respond well to acid soils making them an ideal annual companion!

Hardy Cyclamen are great for fall and winter color. The flowers are shades of bright pink and white and withstand light freezing. Many varieties have very striking leaf patterns and interesting color combinations. For a plant that is hard to find, and expensive when you do find it, it self-seeds like a weed for us! To prevent a full invasion, be sure to remove the seed pods in early spring.