Roses are one of the enduring favorites of the flower garden. Many plants are compatible with roses as long as you choose those that share the same growing conditions and don't compete too aggressively with the roses for nutrients. Companion plants can complement the beauty of the roses while providing other benefits as well. Most roses are not fussy and will happily share their space with suitable garden companions.
Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii)
Catmint is an aromatic perennial whose grayish-green foliage is said to repel a variety of harmful insects. The small lavender-blue blossoms are produced in profuse clusters from May to August. Catmint's cool colors and feathery foliage make it an attractive companion for roses of all colors. Catmint attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, bees which are all beneficial to the overall health of roses and other garden ornamentals.
Lavender is considered a classic companion for roses. The silver-gray foliage and fragrant pink to purple flowers are a lovely foil for either a formal planting of roses or in an informal cottage garden setting. English lavenders such as 'Munstead' are a particularly nice choice as a groundcover to help soften the sparse, leggy appearance at the base of many roses. Both lavenders and roses are fine choices as cut flowers that work well in arrangements together.
This summer-blooming perennial produces tubular flowers in spiky clusters of pink, purple, red or orange. The foliage is silvery-gray and aromatic, with a licorice or anise fragrance. Hummingbirds are attracted to the vivid colors and tubular flowers of this plant. Hummingbirds eat aphids, making agastache a particularly good rose companion for both its compatible appearance and its benefit in controlling insect damage.
Allium (Ornamental onion)
Alliums or ornamental onions are hardy, pest-free plants with round flowerheards made up of many star-shaped flowers in shades of purple. Alliums bloom at the same time as roses and provide contrast in color and in texture to that of roses. Once the allium flowers fade, the attractive foliage softens the leggy appearance of the rose and provides a natural mulch. Members of the onion family such as chives, ornamental alliums and garlic help keep aphids, mites and Japanese beetles away from roses, according to Alabama Cooperative Extension's Limestone County Master Gardeners.
Hardy Geranium (Cranesbill)
This perennial works well with roses because it is low growing and long flowering. Hardy geraniums bear flowers in shades of white, rose, pink, maroon, blue and violet from spring through summer. The airy foliage softens and complements the more rigid, vertical growth habit of the roses. Hardy geraniums are generally pest free and easy to grow.