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The 10 Best Companion Plants For Roses

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Growing roses can be challenging; if you have ever tried, you know what we mean. We would love to say our rose garden is doing well, but we have a few issues between diseases and pest pressure (Hi aphids, I hate you). But in our defense, we did not consider companion plants when we planned and designed our rose garden (I don’t know, not enough coffee that day). That was a mistake. This summer, we’re going for a do-over and complete redesign, and we will include many companion plants for roses that help manage pests in our plan.

During our plant research for our rose garden, we found many wonderful rose companions that promised a helping hand with diseases and pest pressure. Although we will not include all the plants from this article in our redesign, all the plants in this article will work for you so long as the plants recommended do well in your growing zone.

What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is a gardening technique where different plants are grown near each other to promote healthy growth and improve soil nutrients and the overall health of the garden ecosystem. Companion plants can provide many benefits, such as repelling pests, attracting beneficial insects, and enhancing soil health.

  • Learn More: There are so many benefits to companion planting that we created an article all about them. We also have a full category with companion plant recommendations, from vegetables to herbs to fruit.
Infographic illustrating the benefits of companion planting: helps improve soil, control weeds, attract pollinators and beneficial insects, and repel harmful insects and reduce the spread of disease.

Importance of companion planting for rose bushes

Companion planting is essential for roses, susceptible to pests and diseases. By planting companion plants that repel pests or attract beneficial insects, you can reduce the need for harmful chemical pesticides and promote a healthy, thriving garden ecosystem. Companion plants can also add aesthetic value to your garden by providing color, texture, and variety.

Tips for Planting Rose Bushes

When planting rose bushes, consider these key factors to ensure your roses thrive and bloom to their fullest potential.

Site location

First and foremost, site location is critical. Roses need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily, so choose a spot in your garden that receives ample sunlight. Additionally, ensure the site is well-drained and not prone to standing water, which can lead to root rot and other issues.

Spacing

Spacing is also essential when planting rose bushes. Proper spacing between plants allows for adequate air circulation, which can help prevent fungal diseases from developing. Generally, space your rose bushes at least 2-3 feet apart.

Prep the soil

When it comes to planting, it’s essential to prepare the soil properly:

  1. Dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball of your rose bush, and mix in some compost or well-rotted manure to enrich the soil.
  2. Place the rose bush in the hole and backfill it with soil, ensuring the plant is level with the ground.
  3. Water the plant thoroughly to help settle the soil and remove air pockets.

Consider Flowering Season

Choosing the correct type of roses for your climate and desired bloom time is vital for the bloom season. Some roses bloom once a year, while others bloom continuously throughout the growing season. Do your research and choose a variety well-suited for your climate and desired bloom time.

By taking the time to carefully choose the best site, providing air circulation with adequate spacing, and preparing the soil properly, you can help ensure that your rose bushes thrive and bloom beautifully year after year.

Lovely light pink roses bushes in victorian garden.

What are the different types of roses?

There are many different types of roses, each with unique characteristics and growing requirements. However, here are some of the most common types of roses:

Hybrid Tea Roses: These are the classic long-stemmed roses commonly sold as cut flowers. They typically have large, high-centered blooms in various colors and require regular pruning and maintenance.

Floribunda Roses: These roses produce clusters of smaller blooms on shorter stems, making them ideal for mass plantings and borders. They come in a wide range of colors and are generally low-maintenance.

Grandiflora Roses: These roses are a cross between hybrid tea and floribunda roses, producing large blooms on tall, sturdy stems. They are often used as specimen plants and require regular pruning and maintenance.

Climbing Roses: These roses are trained to grow up trellises, walls, or other vertical supports. They produce long canes and can grow quite large, making them ideal for adding height and interest to a garden.

Shrub Roses: These roses are often more disease-resistant and require less maintenance than other roses. They come in various sizes and shapes and can be used as single plants, hedges, or borders.

  • Related: My favorite type of shrub rose is the drift rose. Check out this complete guide to growing drift roses!

Miniature Roses: These small roses produce tiny blooms on compact bushes. They are often grown in containers and make great indoor or patio plants.

Groundcover Roses: These low-growing roses are ideal for planting in mass or as groundcovers, as they produce a dense mat of foliage and flowers. They are generally low-maintenance and disease-resistant.

If you want to learn more about roses, check out the American Rose Society’s webpage, it is chock full of great educational information.

Roses bush on garden landscape.

The Best Companion Plants for Roses

Verify that all the below plants grow well in your growing zone and region before planting. You will also want to ensure that the plants you add to your garden are not invasive in your area.

Lavender

This fragrant herb emits a scent that repels pests such as mosquitoes, moths, and flies, while attracting beneficial pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which help maintain a healthy ecosystem in your garden.

Lavender thrives in full sun and well-drained soil, making it an ideal choice for planting near roses. In addition, lavender requires minimal watering and is drought-tolerant, making it a low-maintenance option for your garden.

Learn More about Lavender:

Bright violet lavender flowers in full bloom against a light green background.  The image is intended to give an example of the types of plants that make good companions for roses.

Catmint

This low-maintenance plant can deter aphids, a common pest that can damage roses, and attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

Catmint prefers full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. It requires minimal watering and is drought-tolerant, making it an easy option for underplanting with roses. The blue/purple flowers look stunning planted near pink roses.

Bright purple and blue catmint plants. The image is intended to give an example of the types of plants that make good companions for roses.

Salvia

With its beautiful spire-like blooms, Salvia adds aesthetic value to your garden while repelling pests like aphids and spider mites and attracting beneficial hummingbirds and butterflies. Salvia prefers full sun and well-draining soil.

It requires moderate watering and benefits from occasional pruning to promote new growth and flowering.

Tall bright purple spires of salvia flowers in full bloom. The image is intended to give an example of the types of plants that make good companions for roses.

Geraniums

These colorful flowers can repel Japanese beetles, a standard rose pest, and attract pollinators like bees to your garden.

Geraniums prefer full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. They require moderate watering and benefit from regular deadheading to promote new blooms.

Geranium flowering plants with buds, group of ornamental pink cranesbill flowers in bloom and buds in the garden, green leaves and stems.

Marigolds

Marigolds are a popular companion plant as they deter pests like aphids and whiteflies, which can damage roses. They also add wonderful a pop of color to your garden.

These cheerful flowers prefer full sun and well-draining soil. They are drought-tolerant and require minimal watering, making them a low-maintenance option for your garden. Marigolds are also edible!

Learn More About Marigolds:

A bed of marigolds in full bloom.

Alliums

With its strong scent, this member of the onion family can repel pests like aphids and attract beneficial ladybugs and lacewings, which help control other pests in your garden.

Alliums prefer full sun to partial shade, and well-draining soil. They require moderate watering and benefit from regular deadheading to promote new blooms.

Chive flowers in full bloom.

Nasturtiums

These fast-growing plants are easy to care for and attract pollinators while deterring pests like aphids and beetles that can harm your roses.

Nasturtiums prefer full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. They are drought-tolerant and require minimal watering, making them a low-maintenance option for underplanting with roses.

Learn More about Nastiruitums:

Brilliant yellow and orange nasturtium flowers.

Yarrow

With its long blooming season, this perennial plant attracts beneficial ladybugs and lacewings, which help control pests in your garden and add beauty to its delicate flowers.

Yarrow prefers full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. It is a drought-tolerant plant and requires minimal watering once established. Regular deadheading will help to promote new blooms.

  • Learn More: See our complete guide on how to grow yarrow and keep it looking wonderful from season to season.
Bright pink flowering yarrow.  The image is intended to show what plants make good companions for roses.

Oregano

This flavorful herb can repel pests like aphids, spider mites, and cabbage moths while adding beauty to your garden with its small, delicate flowers.

Oregano prefers full sun and well-draining soil. It is drought-tolerant and requires minimal watering once established. Regular pruning will also help to promote new growth.

Learn More about Oregano:

Oregano flowers in bloom.

Clematis

This flowering vine can shade your roses, repel pests like Japanese beetles, and attract beneficial pollinators like bees. The blooms on clematis vines act as a beacon for bees!

Clematis prefers full sun to partial shade, and well-draining soil.

Flowering clematis climbing over a garden fence.

Plants You Should Avoid Placing Near Roses

Certain plants can harm roses and should not be planted near them. Here are some plants that you should avoid planting near roses:

Black Walnut – The roots of black walnut trees release a toxic substance called juglone that can harm roses and many other plants. So it’s best to keep roses away from black walnut trees.

Brassicas – This family of plants includes cabbage, broccoli, and kale, and they attract aphids and other pests that can also harm roses. Avoid planting these plants near your roses.

Grapes & Raspberries – Japanese beetles are a common pest that can cause significant damage to roses, and they also love grapes and raspberries. It’s best to grow these plants away from one another.

Boxwood – Boxwood is a host plant for the boxwood leafminer, which can also infest roses. Avoid planting boxwood near your roses. I often see rose gardens rimmed with boxwoods, and although the pairing looks beautiful, it can lead to a heavy leaf miner infestation. 

Best Practices for Planting Companion Plants For Roses

Here are the best practices for planting companions with roses :

  • Consider the needs of your roses first, such as their sun and water requirements, and choose companion plants with similar needs.
  • Think about the benefits you want from your companion plants, such as pest control or pollinator attraction.
  • Look for plants with a different blooming season than your roses so that you can have continuous color throughout the year.
  • Research potential companion plants’ growth habits to ensure they won’t compete with your roses for water, nutrients, or sunlight.

Common mistakes to avoid when adding companion plants To the Rose Garden

Avoid these common mistakes:

  • Choosing plants with incompatible growing conditions, such as those needing more or less water than your roses.
  • Overcrowding your garden with too many plants can lead to resource competition and poor growth.
  • Planting invasive species that can take over your garden and harm native plants, so be sure any plant you add to your garden is not invasive in your region. 
  • Failing to research the growth habits of potential companion plants can lead to plants that grow too large or fast and overpower your roses.
  • Neglecting to maintain and care for your companion plants can lead to pest or disease problems and unsightly, unhealthy plants.
Healthy robust red shrub roses in full bloom.

See More Flower Gardening Advice:

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