Roses need friends or companion plants around them for various reasons, including pest and disease control, longer season of interest and aesthetics. Below are some basic rules to follow when pairing your favorite roses with other plants.
- Growing roses by themselves is an open invitation to the pests and diseases that favor roses. Roses are healthier when provided with companion plants which help repel destructive bugs while encouraging beneficial insects. For instance, Alliums repel aphids, weevils, borers and moles. Geraniums repel Japanese beetles, aphids and other rose beetles. Marigolds help repel harmful nematodes and many pests, etc.
- Underplanting your shrub roses with a succession of flowers will reinforce the beauty of their romantic blooms and extend the flowering season of your mixed border. Start with low-growing spring bulbs such as snowdrops, crocus, grape hyacinths, scillas, anemones and narcissi. They will provide color to your rose borders at a time when your roses are not at their best.
- Roses do not like too much competition and it is recommended to surround them with plants that are not too aggressive or invasive as they might overpower your roses. Companion plants should be planted at least 12 in. (30 cm) away from your roses so that their roots are not disturbed
- Make sure you maintain good air circulation to prevent attacks from insects and diseases.
- There is a wide range of companion plants that will bring out the best qualities of your roses and share their space with a serene balance. Make sure you select any ornamental grasses, perennials, annuals or shrubs that have the same growing requirements as your roses. Roses do best in full sun and well-drained soil. Once established, roses have average water needs and require regular fertilization to promote new blooms. Their companion plants should share similar water, fertilizer, and pesticide treatments.
- Texture, color, and form are also important in the selection of companion plants. Plants with tall spires complement the wide, cup-shaped flowers of roses, while perennials and shrubs with pale green, silver, or purple leaves accentuate the sumptuous rose blossoms.
Rose 'Crocus' & Phacelia Tanacetifolia
Rose 'Anne Boleyn' & Viola
Rose 'Graham Thomas' & Digitalis purpurea
With such a multitude of companion plants to pair your roses with, you are sure to find several combinations that will enhance your landscape and please your eye!