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Who doesn’t love a garden full of rose bushes? They’re fragrant, beautiful, and come in dozens of colors. The rose plant itself can be leggy and bare when not in bloom, so some gardeners like to surround it with plants that will not dampen the bloom’s beauty but will add some further interest in the garden. For your convenience, we’ve put together a list of 25 plants that work well as companions for roses. Please read on to see what we’ve found.
25 Companion Plants For Roses
Lavender (Lavandula) is a super fragrant herb that blossoms with gorgeous light purple flowers. This versatile garden perennial should be considered as companion plants for your roses and not just relegated to a corner of the herb garden. The flowers and green-gray leaves provide mid-summer color. The fragrant flowers may be dried and used in sachets and potpourri. Grows in USDA Zones 5-8, likes full sun, and relatively dry feet.
Catmint (Nepeta) is a great substitute for lavender and much easier to grow. If you love the classic combination of lavender and roses, this is a good substitute. Like lavender, catmint can cover the bare limbs of rose bushes. It’s cool-toned foliage and flowers offer a nice contrast to the bright tones of the roses.
Catmint grows in full sun, though, can deal with some shade. It will also grow wider than it will be tall, so give it plenty of space. Catmint will grow in USDA Zones 3-9, is deer resistant and drought tolerant.
Dianthus (Dianthus) are more commonly known as pinks. These flowers are treasured for their grassy, blue-green foliage and abundant starry flowers, which are often spicy in their fragrance. Dianthus plants range from tiny creeping groundcovers to 30-inch-tall cut flowers, which are a favorite with florists. Whichever you choose, they’ll be a lovely counterpart to your rose bed. Dianthus thrive in USDA Zones 3-10. They’re a perennial that likes full sun to partial shade, and they’re super easy to grow.
The plants in the allium family, including leeks, and chives, are beautiful as garden plants as well as edibles. They tend to grow long, spikey plants with purple flowers that are shaped like balls. They are hardy in USDA Zones 4-9 and will multiply at the bulb level. Plants grow 18-24″ tall, which is the perfect height to surround the base of your rose bushes. Allowing the flowers to bloom before pinching back will attract lots of lovely pollinators to your garden.
5. Baby’s Breath
We know baby’s breath (Gypsophila) goes with roses as together they are probably the most common floral arrangement. But you can also grow it in your rose garden as a living companion. Baby’s breath grows quite large and wide, so be sure you have adequate space for it between your rose bushes. It is typically grown as an annual, so will work well in most USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. It likes well-drained soil and can be susceptible to root rot if it stays too wet.
Marigolds (Tagetes) are members of the sunflower family. These bright and happy flowers will create a gorgeous contrast to your elegant roses. Some species can reach as high as 4′ tall, so be sure and pick out the right height for the look you’re trying to create in your rose bed. These annuals do well in USDA Zones 3-11 and are tolerant of many soil types. They like full sun and will reward you with long-lasting blooms that will also attract pollinators to your garden.
Geraniums (Pelargonium) are popular annuals loved for their wide choice of colors and varieties. They vary in height from 6-inches to several feet, depending on the cultivar and the care given. Mix them with marigolds for a beautiful sunny summer rose bed.
These annuals have varieties for every USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. They like full sun, but if you’re in a very hot area, they’ll need a bit of shade each day. The average amount of water works well for these pretty flowers.
Snowdrops (Galanthus) are members of the amaryllis family. Woodland settings are ideal for snowdrops, and they will return year after year if given winter low temperatures that reach at least 20-degrees Fahrenheit but no colder than 30-degrees below zero. Snowdrops grown in colonies under shrubs like roses will add some color to your later winter, early spring bare rose garden.
These pest-free plants will multiply at the bulb level and grow in cooler climates. They like well-drained soil and appreciate the shade of an overcast late winter day.
Crocus (Crocus) is part of the Iris family. From snow crocuses to giant Dutch crocuses, these diminutive 2-4″ blooms offer a variety of color (pinks, reds, oranges, yellows, purples, blues, and more) that stand out against the late-winter landscape. Their strong fragrance has even been known to lure bees out of their hives in February or March. These bulbs work in USDA Zones 3-8 and bloom in full to partial sun. They like loamy soil that drains well.
Perennial salvia (Salvia) is also known as sage. These showy plants have tall spiky purple flowers bloom in velvety silvery blue-green leaves. They’re loved by pollinators and are gorgeous as cut flowers. Combine them with your roses and baby’s breath, and you’ll have your own bouquet, ready to go. Salvia grows in USDA Zones 5-10. It likes sun and relatively dry soil.
Coreopsis (Coreopsis), commonly known as tickweed, is part of the daisy family. This is a low-maintenance, drought-free plant that’s perfect for a sunny garden bed around your roses. Birds love its seeds, and bees and butterflies love its bright flowers. Annual varieties bloom in early summer and repeat bloom periodically through fall, while perennial varieties bloom in the second year. Coreopsis grows in USDA Zones 4-9, it likes full to partial sun and prefers well-draining, sandy soil.
Speedwell (Veronica) is an easy to grow perennial with long spike-like flowers. It grows in clusters and blooms from spring through autumn, giving great color to the garden. In addition to this type of Speedwell, there’s also a smaller, bushier, cluster type variety that grows to about 10″ in a bounced form. This friend of pollinators works in USDA Zones 3-11 and prefers full sun and loamy soil.
13. Four O’Clocks
Four o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) is a unique flower known for its blooming times. This flower opens in the cool of the late afternoon and stays open from about 4-8 pm, or a little earlier on a cloudy day. Trumpet-shaped blooms are bright yellow, white, magenta, or striped or splashed with pink, orange, or yellow. Sometimes several flower colors can be seen on the same plant. The flowers are fragrant, with a lemony and sweet scent, and hummingbirds and moths are attracted to them.
These flowers will surely shine a beautiful light on your rose garden and are a standout companion plant. They grow in USDA Zones 7-10 and like full, warm sun.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is one of several herbs we think are excellent companions to your roses. Why not have beautiful blooms and flowering herbs all in one spot in the garden? Both smell delicious but in different ways. Because it’s an evergreen, it will provide low color in the rose garden even when your rose bushes aren’t producing. In the spring and the summer, thyme will bloom, attracting pollinators. It does best in full sun and will work as an inground perennial in USDA Zones 5-9.
Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) is another gorgeous herb to plant with your roses. This woody perennial has fragrant, needle-like leaves and blooms with white, pink, purple, or blue flowers dependant upon the variety. It can reach as high as 3′ and provides a nice lower story when mixed in with your rose beds. Plus, it smells fantastic.
Rosemary grows well as a perennial in USDA Zones south of zone 8. Any cooler and the top of the plant may freeze in the colder months. But it’s easy to grow and inexpensive to plant annually if needed. Rosemary likes sun, warmth, and well-drained soil.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is a member of the daisy family. It has been used for centuries to treat headaches, arthritis, and problems with labor and childbirth. It’s a short perennial that blooms between July and October and gives off a strong and bitter odor in the garden. Its yellow-green leaves are alternate and turn downward. The small, daisy-like yellow flowers are arranged in dense, flat-topped clusters that look beautiful planted between rose bushes.
Feverfew grows in USDA Zones 5-9 and likes full sun. Plant it in light, well-drained fertile soil.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a flowering perennial that has also been used as a medicinal herb. It’s very easy-to-grow, is attractive to pollinators, and is deer-resistant. It has a wildflower feeling to it with its fern-like looking foliage and crown of flowers that are reminiscent of queen ann’s lace. This feminine feel to the plant will be a gorgeous counterpoint to a bed of roses.
Yarrow grows well in USDA Zones 3-9. It does well in full sun and slightly drier soil. It is an excellent cut flower and is also quite deer-resistant. You won’t be disappointed if you plant yarrow.
Oregano (Oregano vulgare) is another perennial herb commonly used in cooking. It’s one of the staples of Italian cooking (along with rosemary and basil) and a beautiful plant that will work well planted with roses. This hardy plant makes for a good ground cover, and it does bloom in the summer with rose-purple or white flowers. Oregano grows well as an annual in all USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. It likes full, warm sun, so you may want to plant it later in the season.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is a member of the parsley family. Coriander enjoys a sunny spot near your roses but appreciates a little shade during the hottest part of the day. Plants go to seed more quickly if stressed by hot weather, so this is important for leaf varieties and makes them a good choice for planting below your rose bushes.
Mint (Mentha) is another herbal perennial that works wonderfully planted with roses. This fast-growing perennial will spread quite widely into low mounding plants. The small leaves are incredibly fragrant and can be used in recipes as well as looking lovely in the garden. Mint likes fertile soil and full sun to partial sun. Typically grown as an annual, it grows well in most USDA Plant Hardiness Zones.
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is another beautiful herb that is as common in the kitchen as in the kitchen garden. If you’ve decided to surround your roses with herbs, don’t forget to add dill into the mix. This plant has feathery leaves and grows about 2′-4′ tall. The flowers that bloom in summer are a lovely sunny yellow and are reminiscent of yarrow or queen’s Anne’s lace. Grow dill annually from seed or buy starters, then plant it among your rose bushes for some feathery loveliness.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a flowering plant originally from the Mediterranean. Perhaps best known for its use as an herb and culinary additive. It’s a relative of dill and has similar feathery like leaves. It’s a super addition to the under rose bush herb garden. Rabbits love it, so you’ll need some sort of rabbit repellant if you plant it (see our post here: Why deer don’t eat lavender [And how to protect your other plants]).
Plant parsley as an annual in the summer. It loves full sun and will grow all summer long if kept pinched back as it grows.
Phlox (Phlox paniculata) has dainty five-petaled flowers (from the Greek word for “flame”) and pack by the dozens into dense clusters. These pretty plants grow 1-5′ tall depending upon the variety, which makes them a perfect addition to the rose beds. The typical bloom period for phlox is from July to September, but some types will bloom longer. These flowers work in USDA Zones 4-8 and like full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
Lilies (Lilium) are gorgeous flowers. Plants the bulbs in spring for bloom the same year, or in fall for bloom the following year. They’re one of the truly great garden plants for their flowers, diversity, extended bloom season, graceful stature, and reliable disposition. And they look absolutely beautiful with roses! If you plant enough varieties, you can have blooms from May through August.
Bellflower (campanula) are lovely low-spreading plants with cheery up-turned, cup-shaped flowers. These flowers bloom heaviest in June and July but can delight you with flowers all the way into October in some areas. Bellflowers work better in slightly cooler climates, but if you can match them with the right roses species, the two are a lovely combination.
Are you already imagining the gorgeous understory you can create for your rose beds? We hope so, and we hope this plant list helps with that process. If you enjoyed this post here at GardenTabs.com, please check out a few more of our posts before: