Rose Companion Plants

Roses are versatile and popular shrubs that can be incorporated into many different garden designs. This summer-blooming beauty is at home in cottage gardens, formal and informal plantings, or a dedicated Rose garden. While a formal Rose garden works well to highlight individual Rose varieties, a home garden that combines Roses with other shrubs, perennials, and even annuals can lend a dreamy, romantic feel. Determining which plants will combine the best with Roses is easy. Look for plants that appreciate moist but well-draining soil and prefer full sun exposure. 


Shrubs To Plant With Roses

Roses blend well into established landscapes and make a great contrast to broadleaf evergreens such as Boxwood and Holly. The slightly acid-to-neutral soil that these shrubs prefer works well for Roses too. The summer-blooming deciduous shrubs like Spirea, Weigela, and Viburnum will bloom alongside roses and provide varying sizes of leaves and flowerheads. Mixed shrub borders are a great place to add the larger shrub roses where they can act as a backdrop for perennials and smaller shrubs. 

Plant Roses so that there is adequate space between plants at maturity. A great rule of thumb for spacing shrubs is to plant them at the same distance apart as their width at maturity. For example, Boxwood that reaches 3 feet wide at maturity will need to be spaced 30-36 inches on the center from any other plants.

Perennials To Plant With Roses

Many perennial plants grow well with Roses. For a traditional cottage garden, pair Roses with Peonies, Clematis, and Foxglove; for more modern plantings, try Russian Sage, Alliums, and Cranesbill with shrub Roses. The durable ground cover of Carpet Roses also combines well with perennials. Carpet Roses are great for suppressing weeds in hard-to-garden areas like slopes or heavy traffic areas along a sidewalk or driveway and look at home with native and meadow-type plants such as Yarrow, Bee Balm, Coneflower, Ornamental grasses, and Shasta Daisy. 

Combine contrasting colors of foliage or flowers to give your garden design an energetic, upbeat feeling, or choose flower colors that are monotone to create a relaxing space. A popular plan is an all-white garden that highlights Roses and perennials with white flowers and green foliage. This type of color scheme is not only instantly calming, but also has a very sophisticated feel at dusk when the white seems to glow. 

Annuals To Plant With Roses

Annuals in the garden are often the final touch to fill in an empty spot or add a specific color in just the right amount. Pairing taller and more robust annuals with Roses is a good way to extend the blooming period in a garden border. Snapdragons, Cosmos, Helianthus, and Larkspur all enjoy growing in the same full sun and moist soil conditions that Roses prefer. Smaller annuals make a pretty groundcover near Roses. Alyssum, Dianthus, Lantana and Calibrachoa are great choices. Other annuals such as Marigold, Nasturtium, and Parsley help to protect Roses from pests such as aphids and blackflies. 

Even though annuals have a shallow root system, space them at least 12 inches from the base of your Roses to limit competition for water and nutrients. Using a slow-release fertilizer when planting ensures that plants are well-supported through the growing season every time they are watered. Over-fertilizing with liquid feeds will cause lanky and weak growth in Roses, which encourages disease and pests to attack. 


Best Companion Plants For Roses in Containers

Roses make great subjects for containers placed on a deck, patio, or balcony. There is a Rose variety to fit almost any planter. As long as the container and potting mix have excellent drainage, the plants will grow successfully for many years. Combining tender perennials and annuals with Roses is a great way to change up the look of the planter during different seasons. Upright shrub Roses work well as the thriller in the planter. Small ornamental grasses, spring-blooming bulbs such as crocus or grape Hyacinth, and White Alyssum are great for filling in empty areas of the container. Choose Petunias, Lobelia, or Verbena to trail and spill over the side of your planter. 

Plants Not to Grow With Roses

Plants that require full shade such as ferns, Hostas, or Astilbe do not make good companions for Roses. Most Rose varieties require at least 6 hours of full sun exposure to grow vigorously and bloom well. Planting Roses under trees and in other dry soil conditions is also not recommended and may limit growth and blooming. Roses prefer rich, well-drained soil that stays evenly moist between waterings. Plants adapted to boggy, waterside locations such as Iris, Reed grasses, or Cannas are also not good companions for Roses. The constantly wet soil required for growing these plants will make Roses more susceptible to fungal and bacterial root diseases, which will eventually cause the shrub to die.  

Best Plants To Grow With Roses









The best plants to grow alongside Roses are those that thrive in the same growing conditions. Look for perennials, annuals, and shrubs that prefer full sun exposure, well-draining but moist soil, and a slightly acidic pH.

Some of these images were generated by a computer to illustrate what the combination could look like in your garden.

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Author Robbin Small - Published 8-12-2023