Best Companion Plants for Roses - Diane's Flower Seeds
Rose 'The Impressionist' with Sweet Pea 'Matucana'
Rose Companion Plants

Companion Plants for Roses
by Diane Linsley

What are the best companion plants for roses?

Roses are lovely on their own, but they are even better with companion plants. Many garden designers have said that gardens should be a reflection of nature (minus the weeds). So why are there so many gardens with hybrid tea roses all in a row, and nothing but bare dirt below them?

Rose companion plants add beauty to the garden, and they also reduce problems with pests and diseases. My garden has over 600 varieties of plants, including about 50 roses. I never spray the roses with chemicals, and they are very healthy. This might be because the roses are interspersed with companion plants, which limit the spread of disease.

Sometimes in the spring, we have an infestation of aphids. But I don't worry because I know that ladybugs and other beneficial insects will show up for the feast when the weather warms. Hummingbirds also eat aphids. So flowers that attract hummingbirds are some of the best companion plants for roses.

I'm a fan of color schemes, so my favorite companion plants for roses are listed by color. When in doubt, plant blue flowers next to roses. They never fail to provide a beautiful contrast.

Best Companion Plants for Roses

Blue Flowers

Blue Woodruff -- Spring-blooming annual with fluffy, lavender-blue flowers. Shade tolerant. Self sows.

Campanula persicifolia 'Telham Beauty' -- One of the best companion plants for roses. The china blue flowers go with nearly everything in the garden.

Campanula rotundifolia -- Short, spreading perennial with violet-blue bells. Terrific flower for planting under roses.

Centaurea cyanus 'Blue Boy' -- Reseeding annual with deep, sky-blue flowers.

Delphinium 'Blue Bird' -- Tall spikes of medium blue flowers with white bees.

Nigella damascena 'Miss Jekyll Blue' -- Terrific self-sowing annual to fill in the gaps. One of the best companion plants for roses in early June.

Nigella hispanica 'Curiosity' -- Violet-blue flowers with maroon centers, followed by ornamental seed pods. Nice cut flower.

Penstemon strictus -- Stunning, violet-blue flowers on tall stems. Drought-tolerant, native perennial that attracts hummingbirds.

Salvia transylvanica 'Blue Spires' -- Deep blue flowers. Drought-tolerant.

Sweet Pea 'Royal Navy Blue' -- Wonderful for climbing up rose canes. The dark, purplish-blue flowers look great with roses of any color.


Purple Flowers

Campanula latifolia 'Brantwood' -- Large, violet-blue bells. Reliable perennial.

Delphinium 'King Arthur' -- Tall spikes of royal purple flowers with white bees. A classic companion plant for roses.

Hesperis matronalis 'Violet' -- Fragrant, light violet flowers in early summer.

Lavender 'Munstead' -- Highly fragrant, lavender-blue flowers. One of the best companion plants for roses.

Penstemon cobaea -- Showy, purple flowers on a drought-tolerant perennial. Great color that goes with many roses.

Penstemon grandiflorus -- Large, lavender flowers that attract hummingbirds.

Penstemon hirsutus -- Native perennial with soft lavender and white flowers.

Salvia 'Violet Queen' -- Dark violet flowers on a bushy perennial. Attracts hummingbirds. Easy to grow from seed.

Sweet Pea 'Matucana' -- Heirloom sweet pea with violet-blue and maroon-red flowers. One of my favorite companion plants for roses.


Pink Flowers

Dianthus carthusianorum -- Cool pink flowers on tall stems. Rare perennial.

Digitalis purpurea -- Spotted, purplish-pink, bell-shaped flowers on tall stems.

Gypsophila pacifica -- Perennial baby's breath with pale pink flowers.

Iberis gibraltarica -- Lavender-pink flowers with a long bloom season. Low-growing, evergreen perennial. Good for planting under roses.

Penstemon palmeri -- Large, light pink flowers that attract hummingbirds.

Snapdragon 'Apple Blossom' -- Lovely, pale pink to rose-colored snapdragons. A warmer shade of pink for planting with modern roses.

Sweet Pea 'Janet Scott' -- Heirloom sweet pea with a wonderful fragrance. Nice for trailing along the ground or climbing up old-fashioned roses.


Crimson Red Flowers

Dianthus barbatus 'Dunetti' -- Sweet William. Deep, crimson-red flowers.

Dianthus barbatus 'Holborn Glory' -- Raspberry-red and white, bicolor flowers.

Lychnis coronaria -- Rose Campion. Purplish-red flowers and silvery-green leaves. Traditional companion plant for old-fashioned roses.

Sweet Pea 'Royal Red' -- The cherry-red color looks good with many roses.


Scarlet Red Flowers

Geum 'Blazing Sunset' -- First-year flowering perennial. Fully double, scarlet-red blooms. Nice with white, gold or orange roses.

Geum 'Mrs. Bradshaw' -- Scarlet-red, double flowers on tall, graceful stems.

Lychnis chalcedonica -- Glowing, scarlet-red flowers that attract hummingbirds to the rose garden.

Papaver rhoeas 'Diane's Mix' -- Single and double blooms in many colors.

Snapdragon 'Defiance' -- Heirloom snapdragon. Brilliant, scarlet-red flowers.


Orange Flowers 

California Poppy 'Mission Bells' -- Good for planting under roses, especially modern roses in warm colors.

Papaver atlanticum 'Flore Pleno' -- First-year flowering perennial in soft orange.

Papaver rupifragum 'Double Tangerine Gem' -- Soft orange, double flowers.


Apricot Flowers

Calendula 'Pink Surprise' -- Apricot-yellow flowers with a pink tinge. Good companion plant for attracting beneficial insects.

Calendula 'Triangle Flashback' -- Apricot-pink petals with a maroon reverse. The subdued color goes well with many roses.

Digitalis purpurea 'Apricot Beauty' -- Apricot foxglove. Terrific companion plant for roses in warm colors like gold, orange and scarlet-red.


Yellow Flowers

Antirrhinum braun-blanquettii -- Bushy, perennial snapdragon with a soft yellow color. Best with tall roses.

Digitalis floribunda -- Reliable, perennial foxglove with light yellow flowers.

Digitalis grandiflora -- Yellow Foxglove. Great with roses and blue flowers.

Digitalis lutea -- Tall stems of pale yellow, tubular flowers for hummingbirds. The subdued color looks good with roses of many colors.

Geum 'Lady Stratheden' -- Bright golden-yellow, double flowers on tall stems.


White Flowers

Dianthus arenarius -- Fragrant, pure white, fringed flowers. Drought-tolerant perennial for planting under roses.

Digitalis purpurea 'Alba' -- Elegant, white foxglove. One of the best companion plants for roses of any color.

Feverfew -- Vigorous, self-sowing annual or perennial. Nice filler and cut flower. Best with large rose bushes that won't be overwhelmed by it.

Garlic Chives -- Christopher Lloyd recommends planting garlic chives under roses to deter pests.

Gaura lindheimeri -- Tall, long-blooming perennial with pinkish-white flowers.

Hesperis matronalis 'Alba' -- Fragrant, white flowers in early summer. Self-sowing perennial.

Lychnis coronaria 'Alba' -- Soft, silvery-green foliage with pure white flowers.

Penstemon tubaeflorus -- Tall stems of pure white flowers in early summer.

Snapdragon 'Snowflake' -- Elegant, white snapdragon. Easy to grow from seed.

Tanacetum niveum 'Jackpot' -- Large, bushy perennial with loads of small, white, daisy-like flowers. Companion plant that attracts beneficial insects.


Unusual Colors and Foliage Plants

Agastache 'Golden Jubilee' -- Chartreuse foliage. Looks good with many roses.

Bupleurum 'Green Gold' -- Blue-green leaves and yellow-green flowers. Great companion plant for roses of nearly any color.

Mexican Feather Grass -- Hair-like leaves that wave gracefully in the wind.

Ruta graveolens -- Lacy, blue-green foliage and greenish-yellow flowers. One of my favorite companion plants for roses.


Related Articles

Cottage Garden Design -- How to design a garden for year-round interest.

Companion Plants for Ornamental Grasses -- Flowers to add some color.

Rose Fertilizer Recipe -- An organic mixture to keep your roses healthy.


Other Resources

Find Rose Companions -- An article at Heirloom Roses, my favorite source for own-root roses.

Landscape with Roses: Gardens, Walkways, Arbors, Containers by Jeff Cox


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