Companion Plants for Roses - Diane's Flower Seeds
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

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. Goes nicely with practically any color of rose.

Delphinium -- Tall spikes of flowers in stunning shades of blue, pink or white. There are also compact varieties for small gardens.

Larkspur -- Tall spikes of blue, purple, pink and white flowers similar to delphinium, but less formal looking.

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. Blooms a little later than Nigella damascena.

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

Salvia superba 'Blue Queen' -- Compact selection with deep violet-blue flowers.

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

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

Purple Flowers

Campanula latifolia var. macrantha -- Large, violet-blue bells on tall stems. Reliable perennial.

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

Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) -- Highly fragrant, lavender-blue flowers. The classic companion plants for roses.

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

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

Penstemon hirsutus -- Native perennial with soft lavender and white flowers. Self sows nicely, making it a great filler in the rose garden.

Salvia pratensis 'Twilight Serenade' -- Stunning, deep violet-blue flowers on a bushy perennial.

Salvia 'Violet Queen' -- Dark violet flowers that attract hummingbirds. Goes well with most roses.

Pink Flowers

California poppy 'Carmine King' -- Carmine-rose flowers. Drought tolerant.

California poppy 'Purple Gleam' -- Lavender-rose flowers with silky petals.

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

Digitalis purpurea -- Spotted pink, purple or white, bell-shaped flowers on tall stems.

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

Lychnis chalcedonica 'Carnea' -- Salmon-pink flowers on tall stems.

Lychnis coronaria 'Angel's Blush' -- Pure white flowers with deep pink centers. The fuzzy, silvery-green foliage is attractive all season.

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

Snapdragon 'Apple Blossom' -- Pale pink to rose-colored snapdragons. A warm shade of pink for planting with modern 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.

Snapdragon 'Black Prince' -- Gorgeous, dark crimson-red flowers. The bronze-green foliage is also very nice.

Sweet Pea 'Royal Red' -- The cherry-red color looks great with most roses.

Scarlet Red Flowers

California poppy 'Red Chief' -- Fiery, tangerine-red flowers. Reseeds nicely.

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

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

Papaver (Poppy) -- Single and double blooms in many different colors.

Penstemon barbatus 'Coccineus' -- Tall stems of tubular, scarlet-red flowers throughout the summer. Great for attracting hummingbirds.

Snapdragon 'Defiance' -- Heirloom snapdragon with scarlet-red flowers.

Orange and Apricot Flowers 

Calendula -- We have a nice selection of single and double varieties in shades of orange, yellow and apricot.

California poppy Orange -- Surprisingly nice with both warm and cool-colored roses. Makes a good groundcover.

Digitalis purpurea 'Sutton's Apricot' -- Soft apricot-pink flowers. Terrific companion plant for roses in warm colors like gold, orange and scarlet-red.

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

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

Yellow Flowers

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

Calendula 'Golden Emperor' -- Double, golden-yellow blooms on tall stems.

California Poppy 'Golden West' -- Golden-yellow flowers with orange centers. Nice with scarlet-red roses.

Digitalis floribunda -- The soft yellow flowers are unimposing.

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

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

White Flowers

Alyssum 'Carpet of Snow' -- Loads of tiny white flowers on low-growing plants. Nice at the edge of the rose garden. Attracts beneficial insects.

California Poppy 'White Linen' -- Creamy white flowers. Good for underplanting warm-colored roses.

Campanula persicifolia Alba -- Slowly spreading perennial with white, bell-shaped flowers on tall stems.

Dianthus arenarius -- Fragrant, pure white, fringed flowers. Drought-tolerant perennial for planting at the edge of a path.

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 in a wild area with large rose bushes that won't be overwhelmed by it.

Garlic Chives -- Clusters of starry white flowers in August. Christopher Lloyd recommends planting garlic chives underneath roses to deter pests.

Gaura lindheimeri -- Tall, long-blooming perennial with pinkish-white flowers. Makes a nice filler between tall roses. Drought tolerant.

Hesperis matronalis Alba -- Fragrant, white flowers in early summer. Self-sowing perennial. Good for the cottage garden look.

Lychnis chalcedonica Alba -- Rare white form of Lychnis chalcedonica.

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

Penstemon tubaeflorus -- Tall stems of pure white flowers in early summer. Attracts hummingbirds. Good for cutting.

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

Chartreuse Flowers or Foliage

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

Nicotiana 'Lime Green' -- Lime green flowers open in evening. Light fragrance.

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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