Hostas, also known as plantain lily, are moisture-loving and shade-tolerant perennial plants grown from underground rhizomes. The hosta family of plants is large and the leaf color and variegation choices are many. Hostas can also tolerate direct morning sun or filtered sunlight in all but the warmest and most arid climates. They are best paired with perennials that enjoy moist, nutrient-rich woodland soil conditions and at least partial shade cover.
Ferns are ideal companion plants to Hosta as their cultural requirements are very similar and the fine fern foliage and large smooth Hosta leaves contrast well. The most delicate ferns such a Maidenhair or Japanese Painted fern as well as the heartier Spear and American Royal ferns look equally good paired with Hosta.
Heuchera, also known as Coral Bells, is a low-growing, semi-evergreen shrub that flowers and fruits and has distinctive foliage with curly edges and purple to red to silver coloration over green. It is roughly the same size as Hosta but with a less dense growth form and similar light and soil needs. Heuchera attracts hummingbirds and other birds, which adds to the liveliness of a shade garden.
Pulmonaria, also known as Lungwort, is a flowering woodland plant that flowers in early spring and has a low round growth form. Its cultural requirements synch with Hosta, but its smaller size and blue or red flowers provide good contrast with Hosta. There are a half-dozen species and even more cultivars to choose from and mix and match with Hosta cultivars.