Hydroponic experiments were performed to investigate the ameliorating effects and mitigation mechanisms of selenium and silicon on Cd toxicity in Boehmeria nivea (L.) Gaud. Metal accumulation, chlorophyll content, activities of antioxidant enzymes, and antioxidant contents in ramie were evaluated. The results revealed that cadmium was mainly accumulated in the roots of plants rather than in the aerial parts. Additionally, under 5 mg L−1 Cd stress, both Se (1 μmol L−1) and Si (1 mmol L−1) treatments decreased the Cd concentrations in plants. Besides, the treatments also inhibited the translocation ability of Cd from roots to the aboveground parts, which might be related to the decline of generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The application of Se and/or Si ameliorated Cd toxicity via stimulating the activities of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), guaiacol peroxidase (POD), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX), which resulted in the significant decrease of the contents of malondialdialdehyde (MDA) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in ramie leaves. In addition, the content of nonenzymatic antioxidant such as glutathione (GSH) was increased significantly through the addition of selenite and silicate. Also, ascorbate (AsA) and vitamin E played a crucial role in scavenging excess ROS within plants. On the whole, appropriate doses of Se and Si were found to benefit plant growth and enhance the ability of ramie to alleviate Cd-induced stress. Moerover, the effects of combination of Se and Si appeared to be more superior compared to addition separately in response to Cd stress. © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.