Having a garden full of roses can be beautiful. But to really make your roses stand out, consider planting some companion flowers.
Companion plants not only offer visual contrast and fill in gaps, but they can improve the health of your roses. They can block harmful diseases and deter or draw away pests like bugs and even rabbits.
Keep reading for 17 ideas for the best companion plants for your roses.
1. Russian Sage
Scientific Name: Salvia yangii
Russian sage has many benefits as a companion plant for roses. It can grow between three and five feet tall. This height works well for both tall and short roses.
Tall roses can sometimes have scraggly or “leggy” stems that aren’t very attractive. Russian sage can hide these bare stems.
For shorter roses, the soft purple buds of Russian sage offer a beautiful backdrop for the rose blooms.
Russian sage can also deter insects like Japanese beetles from destroying your roses, possibly due to its strong scent.
Scientific Name: Petroselinum crispum
Parsley can really spice up your cooking, but it has other benefits as well. As a companion plant for roses, parsley keeps away the bad bugs and attracts the good.
For instance, parsley can attract hoverflies, which eat aphids that like to infest roses. Parsley can also deter some rose beetles.
Some gardeners also believe that parsley enhances the scent of roses. This could be because of the contrast between the sweet roses and parsley’s more earthy smell.
Scientific Name: Ruta graveolens
Another way to keep insects away from your roses – and you – is to plant rue nearby. Rue has a distinct smell that can repel aphids, slugs, Japanese beetles, and even flies.
Its bluish-gray leaves offer a nice contrast to colorful rose blooms. But it isn’t just greenery like parsley. It also has its own small yellow blooms you can enjoy.
4. Butterfly Weed
Scientific Name: Asclepias tuberosa
Butterfly weed is an ornamental perennial with vibrant orange flowers. They’re pretty flowers for any garden, but especially as companions for roses.
This is because the butterfly weed’s beauty isn’t just appealing to us. As the name suggests, these flowers are also very attractive to butterflies.
Butterflies are pollinators, and planting butterfly weeds close to roses will ensure that the butterflies pollinate the roses as well.
5. Hardy Geraniums
Scientific Name: Geranium bohemicum
Hardy geraniums look great with roses and help keep them healthy. They’re often three feet tall or under, so they fit well beneath tall roses.
They can also keep Japanese beetles from destroying your roses. This is because geranium petals actually paralyze the beetles!
The beetles roll over on their back and are only able to twitch within 30 minutes of eating the petals.
While the bugs don’t die outright, they are unable to move for several hours. This leaves them open to predators which then eat them while the beetles can’t run or defend themselves.
Scientific Name: Heuchera americana
The heuchera (pronounced “HYOO-ker-AH”) is a plant that benefits from roses as much as the roses benefit from it. It doesn’t have issues with disease or pests, so it won’t draw any to your roses.
The heart-shaped leaves can be very attractive underneath rose bushes. When it flowers, the heuchera has slim stems with small bell-shaped flowers.
These stems rarely grow over two feet, so they’ll complement rather than block your roses. This also means that your roses will provide some shade for your heuchera plant.
Even though it can grow in full sun, the heuchera prefers partial shade. Too much sun means you’ll have to water it much more often, so growing alongside roses makes maintenance easier.
Scientific Name: Nepeta sibirica
When we think of rabbits in the garden, we may imagine them nibbling at vegetables. But rabbits love to eat flowers as well, especially roses.
If you don’t want rabbits ravaging your roses, try planting catmint next to your roses. The minty aroma of catmint deters rabbits as well as deer and voles.
But it does attract butterflies, so it adds even more beauty to your garden.
Catmint is a relative to catnip, so you may find cats like your garden more, too. If you don’t want feline visitors, mouthwash is a surprisingly effective deterrent.
Scientific Name: Tagetes erecta
Marigolds have a reputation for repelling all kinds of insects. While some of these benefits are old wives’ tales, there is hard evidence that marigolds can repel nematodes.
The roots of marigolds release a chemical that stops nematode eggs from hatching. So, planting nematodes near roses will prevent these worms from harming your roses.
In addition, marigolds can attract ladybugs, which love to eat aphids. There’s no hard proof that marigolds themselves deter aphids. But they do draw in bugs that will eat aphids off your roses.
Scientific Name: Heliotropium arborescens
Because rose bushes can be quite large, they can make the areas around them a little shady. This can make it difficult to find the right flower to plant next to them.
Heliotropes tolerate a little shade, so they’re good companion plants for roses. They also like moist, well-drained soil just like roses.
Heliotropes also look good next to roses. They grow tight clusters of small flowers, so they can fill out the more spacious areas among rose stems.
10. Bee Balm
Scientific Name: Monarda didyma
A lot of companion plants for roses are good covering up leggy stems. This means they work well in front of your roses.
But bee balm is a very large plant, reaching up to six feet tall. So, it’s one of the few flowers that do well behind roses instead of in front of them.
Bee balm is also a good companion plant for roses because it attracts bees and butterflies. These pollinators will pollinate the roses, too, since they’re close by.
Scientific Name: Lavandula angustifolia
Lavender plants have a lovely and calming smell that can complement your fragrant roses. But this smell isn’t just pleasant to us, it can also repel undesirable animals.
Rabbits and deer don’t like the smell of lavender or other members of the mint family, like catmint. Lavender also grows thin stems but tall enough to cover the leggy parts of roses.
Scientific Name: Paeonia officinalis
Peonies look good with roses, plain and simple. In contrast to the thinner stems and less abundant leaves of roses, peonies have lush, green foliage.
If you have concerns about the peony blooms overpowering your roses, never fear. Peonies have a much shorter window for blooming than roses.
At the same time, peonies keep their green foliage for long periods. So, even without their blooms, they can still present a nice counterpoint to your roses.
One thing to note is that peonies like full sun and dislike competition. So, you should plant them nearby but not necessarily right in front of your roses for full effect.
Scientific Name: Matthiola incana
They can also bloom in light shades and like the same well-drained soil as roses. Gillyflowers come in a wide array of colors and their fragrance can enhance that of your roses.
Scientific Name: Coreopsis tinctoria
Coreopsis, or tickweed, comes in so many different colors that it’s easy to choose one that complements your roses. The plains coreopsis is especially beautiful because of its two-tone petals.
It’s also a good companion plant for roses because it tolerates shade and blooms almost year-round. So, when your roses fall dormant, you still have something stunning in your garden.
15. Garden Phlox
Scientific Name: Phlox paniculata
This perennial is especially good for filling in rose bushes. It’s a medium-height groundcover plant with thick clumps of blooms. You can also plant tall garden phlox as a backdrop for your roses.
You can also find variations of garden phlox that are resistant to powdery mildew. This will decrease the chances of powdery mildew finding its way to your roses.
16. Woodland Phlox
Scientific Name: Phlox divaricata
Another phlox type that makes a great companion plant for roses is the woodland or blue phlox. This is a shorter plant than garden phlox, so it’s also good for filling in gaps.
But it can be even better in front of roses because it’s much more shade tolerant. It also thrives in moist, well-drained soil.
Since the blooms are often blue or violet, they can offer a nice contrast to warmer-colored roses.
17. Lady’s Mantle
Scientific Name: Alchemilla mollis
Lady’s mantle is a great plant to fill in rose bushes without overpowering the blooms. Instead of large, individual blooms like roses, the lady’s mantle produces clumps of very small, fluffy yellow flowers.
This makes it more visually appealing than just plain greenery, but it doesn’t compete with your roses for focal points.
Lady’s mantle is also not very fussy. It tolerates a range of sun and shade conditions, so it can do well in sunny areas or in the shade of your rose bushes.