Pairings with tulips


Hi there,
I am looking for groundcover plants to pair with tulips that are not invasive species to Ontario.

My flowerbed is on the front portion of my lawn and contains a large magnolia on the Left side and a eunonymus and cedar on the right (with some japanese forest grass and one plant I don’t know). The patch in the middle becomes totally bare in the summer once I pull the tulips leaves out.

I tried to plant a hosta in the empty space in the middle but it’s doing poorly. I’m not sure if it has to do with too much sun (in the bare middle section), not enough sun/water (sun/sprinkler blocked by all the tulip leaves?).

The entire bed receives water because of the sprinkler system.

Any help would be greatly greatly appreciated by this clueless neophyte “gardener”! Thank you!


It is terrific that you are thinking of native species for your flowerbed.

You might consider one of the native hardy geraniums, Geranium maculatum, Spotted Cranesbill, which has a lovely mounding shape.  Geranium maculatum favours partial shade, but will tolerate full sun as long as it has adequate moisture.   Or, the Canada anemone, Anemone canadensis, which is drought-tolerant and grows well in sun or shade.  Both these plants have a mature height of about one foot.  Although not considered a groundcover, the native purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea might be another lovely choice planted around your tulips.  It thrives in full sun and will grow quickly as the tulip foliage is dying back, eventually reaching a mature height of more than 2 feet.

Here is a listing of native plant nurseries in Ontario which you may find helpful to start off with.  It is best to call or e-mail in advance as available stock diminishes as summer approaches:  Some of the larger retail garden centres are also beginning to offer more native plant species this season, which is very welcome.

Check out the Grow Me Instead brochure from the Ontario Invasive Plant Council for some other suggestions as well.

June 13, 2021