How to Grow Roses in a Perennial Garden


Roses provide a strong anchor in a perennial garden. Their height and large blooms are commanding, and their colors contrast or blend with foreground plants. Like an artist's canvas, your perennial garden creates a mood in the landscape, and the wrong rose ruins the image with discordant color or size. Even the right rose causes problems when perennials with different needs surround it, or crowd it after a season of growth. Have a harmonious flowerbed by growing the right rose in the right place.

Step 1

Choose the rose variety. Not all roses are shrubs; some are climbers, like the large Lady Banks' rose (Rosa banksiae), others are groundcovers, like the tough rosa rugosa. Also consider the bloom time and color. A yellow rose alongside Black-eyed Susans will be lost, where a red rose adds excitement. With size, growth habit, and color in mind, select a variety that best suits the future planting site in the perennial bed.

Step 2

Select the planting site. In a mixed-flower bed, large rose varieties overpower shorter perennials. Plant standard roses at the back of the bed, as a focal point or use miniature roses. Do not plant roses next to perennials with different water or fertilizer requirements. The University of Illinois Extension suggests planting roses at least 24 inches from nearby plants.

Step 3

Dig a hole 2 feet wide and 1 foot deep for bare-root roses or twice the width of the pot for container-grown plants. Amend poor or sandy soil with a well-ripened compost. Set the plant so the bud union is just at or above ground level in moderate climates or just below ground level in colder zones before backfilling firmly around the roots, adding water to settle the soil.

Step 4

Prune roses before they break winter dormancy. Remove any crossing canes and 'sports,' large canes that grow straight up and out with little or no branching. Snip out canes smaller than a pencil. Cut away large, old canes as well, as close to the bud union as possible. Finally, trim the canes two-thirds up along their length and remove any remaining leaves.

Step 5

Fertilize the perennial bed in spring, after pruning the roses, with a slow-release balanced fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 formulation. Roses in bloom are heavy feeders and appreciate repeat feedings. Cut back on fertilizer during hot, stressful summers or as frost approaches to avoid forcing new growth.

Tips and Warnings

  • Dispose of diseased rose trimmings in the trash, not the compost bin. Many other plants, including hawthorn trees, are related to roses and are vulnerable to cross-infection. Many perennials die to the ground in winter. Mark dormant perennials or place a stepping-stone near the rose to avoid crushing new growth when pruning the rose.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Shovel
  • Pruning shears
  • Loppers (for large canes)
  • Soil amendments
  • Balanced fertilizer


  • University of Illinois Extension: Our Rose Garden
  • American Rose Society: Ten Principles of Rose Pruning
  • All Experts: Plant Diseases: Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • Every Rose: A Rose Database
Keywords: rose flower bed, perennials and roses, growing roses perennial

About this Author

Kimberly Fuller has been a writer for 15 years, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Utah. She has written successful grants for local schools as well as articles for Demand Studios, Constant Content and other online sites.