What is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is the masterful way of planting different species of plants near one another in a garden bed for mutually beneficial reasons. There are countless benefits to companion planting for roses. Companion planting can enhance the attractiveness of your garden design, fight common rose pests, attract beneficial insects, and amplify the overall fragrance of your rose garden.
Planting roses with companion plants can improve their appearance, health, and extend the color and visual interest of your garden. Companion planting adds sophistication to any rose garden with the addition of complementary perennial plants that extend your bloom season. Roses, even repeating roses, are not perpetually in bloom. With companion plants, you can have color, texture, and interest from spring to fall. You can also add tones that are not in the rose color palette. Roses are vibrant and captivating when in full bloom, but in the offseason, the dull and lifeless thorny bases of roses can benefit from a little camouflage.
Pick plants that share the same care requirements to share garden space with your roses and consider how much light, water, and soil nutrients that they require. Select plants with varied growth habits and nutrient requirements so that they accent rather than compete with one another in the garden. With strategic planting, you’ll even find plants that release essential nutrients back into the soil, feeding your roses, making them an ideal garden buddy.
Plants That Look Good With Roses
Texture, color, and height are important considerations in the aesthetics of companion planting. Plants with tall spikes complement the wide, curved petals of roses, while shrubbery and perennial plantings with lighter green, silvery, or purple-leafed stunners highlight the luxuriant rose blossoms.
Some plants don’t just look good together; they work especially well together. Good companions can act as living mulches, counteracting the spread of weeds, and shading the soil. Plants like salvia, coreopsis, and speedwell keep roses’ roots systems balanced with moisture and temperature.
- Coreopsis provides quite the trifecta of benefits as a companion for roses. Coreopsis flowers are showy bloomers that can help camouflage damaged leaves and can extend the blooming time of your rose garden for a solid three months. Coreopsis also attracts beneficial insects to your garden, which helps with pollination and pest control.
- Speedwell thrives with minimal care when tucked in average, well-drained soil. Blossom spikes contrast strikingly with the round flower form of roses. Speedwell buds appear in May and keep coming all season long if you faithfully remove spent blossom spikes.
- Salvia plants have spiky foliage which counteracts with the smooth round shape of roses.
Plants That Discourage Pests
You can also plant roses with companions to ward off pests, thanks to the natural substances in their leaves, flowers, or roots that act as a natural insect repellent. Check out this list of easy growing, rosebush companions that will enhance growth and protect each other from harm.
- Garlic and other members of the onion group, actually increase the perfumed fragrance of the roses in your garden.
- Four o’clock are pretty additions to any garden, but the poisonous leaves that attract Japanese beetles and make them a win-win for rose gardeners.
- Scented geraniums will keep damaging insects off of your roses, add beauty, fragrance, and welcome pollinators. They also provide great texture to balance out the look of your garden.
- Sage, thyme, lavender rosemary, garlic, allium, and chives are all great herbal companions that produce highly scented leaves that deter pests.
- Feverfew is an herb that attracts aphids away from roses. Plant it as a host plant
- Yarrow attracts ladybugs, which in turn consume rose damaging aphids.
- Oregano, Coriander, mint, and dill and other edible herbs are fun to mix in for their dual purpose in the garden. They repel destructive aphids, and you can use them in your kitchen.
How to Companion Plant with Success
When companion planting, always allow plenty of room between plantings to ensure good air circulation and space to allow proper pruning. Additionally, taller reaching plants should be placed in the back of the garden and smaller plants in the front so that the glorious features of all of the plants can shine while maintaining proper sunlight distribution.
Soil preparation can make all of the difference in your garden. Roses need good fertile soil, so it is important to mix a lot of organic matter into your garden bed. Start with well-decomposed compost and mix it into your garden soil. If you do not use fully decomposed materials, the root system of your rose bushes can burn out as the compost continues to heat up and decay. The optimal soil pH for a rose garden is 6.5. You can attain this by using the right mix of compost, alfalfa meal, and kelp meal for an ideal growing environment. Apply fertilizer every four to six weeks. Rose fertilizers won’t cause harm to perennials, bulbs, or annuals, and they will enjoy the added nutrients.