The Best Companion Plants for Roses

Pair Roses with These Plants for Drama and Beauty

Rose bushes on separate trellises with lavender bushes underneath

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Roses are beautiful on their own. But pair them with a plant that complements their form or texture, or that blooms during your rose's downtime, will make your garden even more dramatic. We've compiled a list of the best perennials and annuals to add to your rose garden with some important growing tips below.

Tips for Growing Companion Plants Alongside Roses

Growing plants alongside roses isn't just for aesthetics, though it's always a treat to see flowers blooming in your roses' off-season. It's also important to consider each plant's needs, preferred growing conditions, and your climate. Roses require direct sunlight and well-draining soil, so choose plants that match those conditions and be sure to space them at least a foot apart. Be careful, though: some plants are too aggressive when it comes to resources and can easily overpower your roses,

Here is a list of plants with similar growing conditions to roses, that will make great companions for your rose plants.

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    Anise-hyssop (Agastache)

    Anise-hyssop plant with tall purple flower spikes

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    PERENNIALS

    The tall, spiky flowers of anise hyssop contrast nicely with the cup shape of roses. Hyssop comes in many colors besides blue and there's sure to be one that complements your roses.

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    Bellflower (Campanula)

    Bellflower plant with small purple flower clusters

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Whether you choose a tall flowering bellflower or one that spreads along the ground, most flower repeatedly throughout the summer, filling in the lull when your roses are taking a break.

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    Catmint (Nepeta)

    Catmint plant with thin stems and small blue-purple flowers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Catmint is a classic with roses. The abundant sprays of blue flowers engulf the rose flowers and hide their ugly "knees". Cut your catmint back after flowering and it will bloom again and again.

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    Blue false-indigo (Baptisia)

    Blue false-indigo plant stems with deep purple tiny blooms and buds

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Baptisia is one of the most beautiful blue flowers you can grow and one of the few flowers that might just upstage your roses. They bloom only once per season, but for a long time. And once the flowers are gone, you still have that gorgeous blue-green, pea-like foliage and fascinating seed pods, that rattle as they dry.

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    Garden phlox (Phlox)

    Garden phlox with pink rounded flowers clustered on stems

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Phlox is an old-fashioned flower that has greatly improved over time. New varieties are far less prone to powdery mildew. The tall flowers form dense clumps that will encase your roses in lush foliage.

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    Globe thistle (Echinops)

    Globe thistle plant with deep purple spherical and spiked flowers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    You couldn't get more contrast to roses that the thistle -blossoms of Echinops. Their steely blue color works especially well with pinks, corals, and yellows.

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    Geraniums (Geranium)

    Small purple geranium flowers and buds in sunlight

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Hardy geraniums have long been a first choice for planting under roses. These low growers make themselves at home and form a living mulch, protecting the rose roots and complementing the flowers with their shades of white, pink, and blue.

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    Germander (Teucrium)

    Germander (Teucrium)

    Patrick Johns/Corbis/VCG / Getty Images

    This underused herb forms a dense carpet that will help you greatly cut down on weeding. The leaves are thick and remain attractive long after the pink flowers have faded. Germander blooms early in the season when roses are just waking up.

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    Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla)

    Lady's mantle plant with round lobed leaves and tiny green flower buds with dew

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Lady's Mantle evokes English flower borders. You always see it spilling over pathways, with its chartreuse flowers languorously bending toward the ground. It can bring the same charm when planted under roses.

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    Lavender (Lavandula)

    Lavender plant with bright purple flower blooms

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    If you love scented flowers, you will be in heaven with a lavender and rose combination. Try and choose colors that blend with one another. The paler lavenders look wonderful with both pastel roses and deep reds.

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    Lilies (Lilium)

    Pink and yellow lily flowers and buds in garden

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    For another scent treat, tuck some lily bulbs in your rose border and enjoy how the bold, nodding flowers contrast with the sprays of roses. Lilies tend to start blooming about the same time as roses, so you will get both fragrance and visual pleasure.

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    Meadow sage (Salvia)

    Meadow sage plant with deep purple flower spikes in sunlight

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Salvias are some of the most dependable and adaptable garden plants. Their spiky flowers will start blooming just before your roses and continue on for weeks. Be sure to deadhead, so you will get repeat blooms.

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    Ornamental onions (Allium)

    Ornamental onion plants with purple globe-shaped flower clusters on tall stems

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The larger alliums, like Purple Sensation, tend to bloom in mid-spring, while your roses are just sending up new growth. Choose multiple varieties that bloom at different times and you will have a long season of color. Even when they are finished flowering, the round seedheads make a great foil for delicate roses.

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    Russian-sage (Perovskia)

    Russian sage plant with thin gray stems and tiny purple and delicate flowers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Russian sage is a large, billowy plant with airy purple flowers that slowly reach their full, intense color in summer. They could easily engulf your roses, so be sure to allow some space between plants.

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    Sea Holly (Eryngium)

    Sea holly plant with purple globe-shaped flowers and silver-spiked leaves

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Much like Echinops, sea holly makes a strong contrast with the elegance of roses. The cool silver of sea holly's flowers has a cooling effect on bold rose colors and they are just tall enough to make a nice curtain for the bottoms of your rose plants.

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    Spurge (Euphorbia)

    Spurge plant with round yellow-green flowers clustered on stem

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Euphorbia plants have foliage that looks good all season and flowers that stay in bloom for weeks. The blue-green leaves provide a nice backdrop for when your roses are in bloom.

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    Wormwood (Artemisia)

    Wormwood plant with silvery-green feathery leaves

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Wormwood provides season-long soft, silvery-gray, foliage that will make your roses stand out and sparkle. If you are looking for a low maintenance rose companion, this is it.

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    Yarrow (Achillea)

    Yarrow plant with yellow flower clusters on feathery leaf stems

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    If you are gardening in dry conditions, yarrow makes an excellent choice with roses. These undemanding plants thrive in full sun, as roses do, and they won't complain if your roses soak up all the water.

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    Annual phlox (Phlox)

    Annual Phlox (Phlox drummondii)
    Michele Lamontagne / Getty Images

    ANNUALS

    If you like to change things up every year, annual plants are the way to go. Annual phlox is low growing and blooms almost non-stop.

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    Four o’clock (Mirabilis)

    Four o'clock plant with yellow and pink tubular flowers on variegated leaves

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Four O'Clocks live up to their name, flowering in the late afternoon and throughout the evening. If this is when you are home to enjoy your garden, they will deliver quite a show.

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    Heliotrope (Heliotropium)

    Purple heliotrope flowers clustered on top of stem in sunlight

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    A large mass planting of Heliotrope is like a whiff of vanilla in your garden. Can you imagine the combination of rose and vanilla?

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    Lantana (Lantana)

    Lantana plant with tiny pink and yellow flower clusters

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    For non-stop color, even when your roses are between blooms, Lantana is a great choice. It comes in a wide variety of colors and heights. It can be perennial in warm areas, but you can usually find smaller plants to use around your roses.

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    Larkspur (Consolida)

    Larkspur plants with tall stems with bright and light pink flowers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Larkspur can start blooming in the cool days of spring. If you are impatient waiting for your roses to take off, you can console yourself with delicate larkspur, until the roses catch up.

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    Million bells (Calibrachoa)

    Million bells (Calibrachoa)
    BambiG / Getty Images

    Million Bells seems to work just about everywhere. These tiny cousins of petunias bloom non-stop and the choice of colors will dress up any shade of rose.

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    Pansies (Viola)

    Purple pansies with rounded petals clustered near the ground

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Pansies are for the gardener who wants to see color as early in spring as possible. They will slow down in the heat of summer, but their foliage should remain as a nice carpeting for roses. If kept watered, your pansies will resume blooming in the fall, when the roses close down.

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    Persian shield (Strobilanthes)

    persian shield strobilanthes dyeranus acanthaceae
    AlexeyKamenskiy / Getty Images

    The dramatic, iridescent leaves of Persian shield make a bold statement in the garden. You might not want to pair them with your deepest red roses, but with pastels, especially peach, this is a striking combination.

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    Summer snapdragon (Angelonia)

    Purple Angelonia in the summer flower bed
    ouchi_iro / Getty Images

    The soft colors of Angelonia flowers pair well with just about any rose, allowing the more saturated rose colors to stand out and shine.

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    Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana)

    Flowering tobacco plant with purple trumpet-shaped flowers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Nicotiana, especially the tall Nicotiana sylvestries, with its dangling white, tubular flowers, makes a very dramatic pairing with any color rose.

    Continue to 29 of 32 below.
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    Blue mist shrub (Caryopteris)

    Blue mist shrub stem with silvery-green leaves and tiny purple blooms

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The gray foliage of caryopteris shrubs will beautifully offset any color rose. Once the blue flowers bloom in late summer, the contrast is eye-catching.

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    Boxwood (Buxus)

    Boxwood shrubs trimmed in short rectangular shape

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    For a timeless classic, boxwood and roses can't be beaten. You can create a border or simply offset the casual nature of the rose bush with a clipped box specimen.

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    Daphnes (Daphne)

    Daphne plant with tiny white flowers on branches with short oval leaves

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    With their small growth habit, delicate, scented flowers, and subsequent berries, Daphne is an all season plant that will complement roses whether in bloom or not.

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    Spirea (Spiraea)

    Spirea plant with white flower clusters on branches

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Spirea shrubs are almost maintenance-free and they look good all season. The foliage often starts out reddish and develops into either bright green or yellow. Whether you go with a pink or white flowering spirea, its mounding habit will tame the wildness of any rose bush.

Article Sources
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  1. New York Botanical Garden. "Companion Planting for Roses." December 3, 2021.