Just like humans, plants need companions. Landscape or garden designers often suggest planting in groups of three or more. While this is a sound design principle, if one of these three plants gets a pest or disease, the whole grouping will soon suffer. Companion planting with other species of plants can deter certain pests and help them become more resistant to diseases. Variety in the landscape also ensures that there will still be plants even if a disease or pest wipes out one species. Additionally, companion plants can also attract pollinators and beneficial insects.
Roses are such reliable performers in the garden that they are oftentimes planted alone as specimen plants or in groupings with other roses. However, they are notoriously affected by many different pests and several diseases too. Rose companion plants not only repel these pests and diseases, but they can also bring out the deep, rich colors of roses even more by adding complimentary or contrasting color.
While many plants make excellent companions for roses, here are the top 5 companion plants for roses and their attributes:
1. Lavender (Lavendula spp.) – Hardy in zones 5-9. As companion plants to roses, lavender repels rabbits, deer and aphids. They also attract pollinators. The blue-green, fine textured foliage of lavender and lavender-purple blooms beautifully accentuate the dark green foliage and colorful blooms of roses. Lavender’s low-growing habit can also hide bare spots near the base of large rose shrubs.
2. Ornamental Onions (Allium spp.) – Hardy in zones 3-9. Plants in the onion family are said to intensify the scent of roses. They also repel aphids, weevils, Japanese beetles, and moles. Alliums also can prevent black spot when planted near roses. Aesthetically, they add different color and texture to the rose garden.
3. Catmint (Nepeta spp.) – Hardy in zones 3-9. Catmints are naturally disease and pest free plants. When planted with roses, they deter rabbits, deer, and Japanese beetles. Catmint also attracts pollinators. Like lavender, the colors and texture of catmint beautifully contrast roses.
4. Wormwood (Artemisia spp.) – Hardy in zones 4-8. Wormwood repels many insect pests, such as aphids, whiteflies, beetles, ants, slugs and snails. They also deter rabbits, deer and rodents. Wormwood does, however, attract beneficial insects to the garden. The low growing, fine, feathery silver foliage of wormwood planted around roses creates the appearance of a living floral bouquet.
5. Ornamental Sage (Salvia spp.) – Hardy in zones 4-9. Salvias deter deer and rabbits. They also attract pollinators and beneficial insects to the garden. Visually, the bloom colors and texture of salvias are very complimentary to roses. While lavender can sometimes be a difficult plant to grow, salvias are very easy to grow and have a similar appearance.