17 Best Companion Plants For Roses (Photos & Facts)

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.

2. Parsley

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.

3. Rue

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.

Also read  Listerine Uses In The Garden (7 Tips & Tricks)

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.

6. Heuchera

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.

7. Catmint

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.

8. Marigolds

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.

9. Heliotropes

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.

Also read  Tomato Cages: The Ultimate Guide To Supporting Your Tomato Plants

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.

11. Lavender

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.

12. Peonies

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.

13. Gillyflowers

Scientific Name: Matthiola incana

Also known as stocks, gillyflowers are another type of plant that has tall but narrow blooms like lavender. They work very well as a filler for rose bushes because they can cover up bare patches.

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.

14. Coreopsis

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.

Also read  Kansas Native Plants List: 12 Best Plants (With Photos)

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.

Lucy Young

Meet Lucy, a seasoned gardener with a green thumb and a wealth of experience cultivated over 10 years in her own backyard oasis. Now, she channels her passion into writing, sharing invaluable gardening knowledge on her website. From nurturing plants to expert pruning techniques, Lucy's articles are a treasure trove for both seasoned enthusiasts and budding gardeners. Join her on this leafy journey as she sprinkles insights, tips, and tricks to help you create your own flourishing paradise. Get ready to dig into her gardening wisdom and unlock the secrets of a thriving garden!

Recent Posts