15 Companion Plants for Roses

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Wondering what to plant alongside your roses? Discover these horticulturist-recommended perennials & shrubs that thrive in sun and well-draining soil, just like roses!

Roses are a garden staple for a reason: they are romantic, whimsical, sweetly scented, and a classic addition to any landscape or cut-flower arrangement. By being selective with your rose companion plants, you can increase disease resistance, extend the season of interest, and keep the deer at bay! Enhance your rose garden with these perennials, shrubs, and grasses that require similar light levels, soil, and other growing conditions as roses.

Pink roses planted alongside white hydrangeas in the garden

How To Grow Roses

While specific growing requirements may differ between rose cultivars, roses generally require similar growing conditions. From pruning to winterizing, here’s everything you need to know to grow and care for roses! Here are some things to consider:

  • Soil: Roses prefer average, slightly acidic, well-drained soil. All types of roses could also benefit from adding compost, aged manure, or leaf mold to the planting soil, though it isn’t always necessary.
  • Light: Roses thrive in full sun (6+ hours of sun), so plant them in a sunny site for the best flower production. 
  • Water: Try to keep the soil lightly moist but not wet, especially in their first growing season. Avoid wet foliage in the evening; water early in the day to reduce the risk of disease. Some varieties of roses are drought-tolerant once established, like those in the Oso Easy® series from Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrubs.
  • Fertilizing: Feed your roses with a fertilizer blended especially for roses to keep the gorgeous blooms coming.  Careful: using a high-nitrogen fertilizer might discourage blooming.
  • Winterizing: Winter care really only depends on whether your rose is grafted or grown on its own roots. All the roses at Great Garden Plants are not grafted and, therefore, do not require any extra steps for overwintering. However, if your rose is grafted, you’ll want to add extra insulation by mounding a layer of compost or shredded leaves around the base. Promptly remove any material away from the base as new growth emerges in spring to improve airflow.
  • Maintenance & pruning: Prune roses to remove deadwood, control or direct growth, and promote new growth. Wait until growth breaks in early spring before pruning. Remove any branches to increase airflow, then trim the rest back by 1/3 its height, making cuts just above large, healthy buds. Most roses benefit from deadheading through the season to encourage rebloom.

Plants To Pair With Roses

Close up of incrediball smooth hydrangea with large white blooms

Hydrangea (Hydrangea)

Amp up the flower power of your rose garden by adding large hydrangea shrubs! Both roses and hydrangeas also thrive in full-sun environments and benefit from some afternoon shade, especially in hot and dry climates.

Radiant purple blooms of Hidcote Lavender

Lavender (Lavandula)

The gorgeous multi-layered petal blooms from roses paired with the vivid flower spikes of lavender are a pairing perfect for a cut-flower garden! Both thrive in dry soils, but keep in mind that newly planted lavender may need a little more water until they are established.

Foxglove (Digitalis)

Your dream cottage garden is just a few plants away! We especially love pairing foxglove with climbing roses, which run along a trellis or wall. Foxglove tubular blooms contrast with elegant rose petals during midsummer when both begin their show.

Field of white Shasta Daisy flowers

Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum)

Another cottage garden classic, Shasta Daisy, is a summertime stunner like roses. They can be planted alongside roses in a full-sun gardens and even require similar maintenance and pruning after blooming. You don’t need a complicated garden schedule when you pair these two plants.

Globe-shaped purple flowers floating above swirls of blue foliage

Allium (Allium)

The whimsical globe-shaped allium flower adds contrasting shapes and textures to your rose garden! This durable perennial is also a reliable and low-maintenance addition when planted next to roses. Plus, it’s simply irresistible to pollinators.

Stonecrop (Sedum)

Sun-loving stonecrop (Sedum) makes an excellent companion plant for roses! Its low-growing nature makes it look amazing in the forefront of rose bushes, or it can even be used in color-blocking alongside ground-cover roses. 

bright orange and yellow blooms of the Uptick Gold & Bronze Tickseed

Tickseed (Coreopsis)

If you want to enjoy the beauty of cut rose flowers indoors, consider planting them alongside tickseed. Tickseed can thrive in cut flower arrangements between 2-3 weeks without wilting or losing flower color! They prefer to be planted in moist, well-drained soil.

Purple flower spikes from Russian Sage

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

The bright purple blooms from Russian Sage contrast the vivid pink, red, and yellow colors of roses so beautifully! Not only does it add frosty foliage to your rose garden, but it also thrives in sunny gardens that are prone to drought.

Coneflower (Echinacea)

If you want to add even more color to your rose garden, consider planting a variety of coneflower (Echinacea) flowers. These native perennials come in nearly every color of the rainbow. Their strong stems can hold their own alongside roses and might even rival your rose in terms of flower power.

Pink tall garden phlox

Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Phlox is another great cottage garden staple that grows in a tall, upright habit and thrives in full sun environments. If you have extra space around your rose shrub, try planting phlox outward into your lawn to create a pollinator buffet and reduce time spent mowing.

A sea of vibrant red blooms creating a carpet to cover the soil

Red Creeping Thyme (Thymus praecox ‘Coccineus’)

Red creeping thyme puts on its flower show at the same time as roses, making it an attractive companion plant. It serves as a great ground cover around your shrubs, or you can even use red creeping thyme as a lawn substitute!

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)

Roses continue to bloom into late summer and fall, so choosing other late-season bloomers like Black-Eyed Susan keeps your landscape vibrant as seasons change. As an added bonus, Rudbeckia is native to North America, and birds adore the seed heads.

The tall tan blades topped with feathery flowers of the Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass standing among yellow and pink flowers

Karl Foerester (Calamagrostis x acutiflora)

‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass can make an amazing backdrop behind roses along a pathway or border. It’s compact, reaches up to 60 inches tall at maturity, and creates a fast privacy screen!

orange yarrow flowers in a cottage garden

Yarrow (Achillea)

The long-lasting beauty of yarrow in the garden can be enjoyed from early summer until early fall, right alongside roses! Yarrow also attracts pollinators with its lovely scent and can thrive in nearly any soil as long as it’s well-draining. Ideal for cut flower gardens as well.

Catmint (Nepeta)

Create a garden full of fragrances and colors by pairing catmint with rose plants. Just don’t be surprised if you see feline friends begin to congregate around your plants! Luckily, they won’t likely touch roses due to their thorny canes.

Written by: Lindsey Griffith, click here to read bio.

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