When you think of roses, you may call up pictures of pink tea roses or English roses planted in a formal garden with row after row of boxwood hedges. While roses and boxwoods do well together in the formal symmetry of the English garden, this is by no means the only plant that can live harmoniously with roses.
Roses and garlic have a "Beauty and the Beast" love affair. While roses are considered the queen of all flowers, garlic and other plants of the onion family are known for making your eyes water, your mouth burn and your breath stink. In the garden, garlic protects roses from insects and diseases. Other plants that help roses to fend off diseases include marigolds and thyme.
If your rose beds are already crowded with shrub roses, then a climbing, flowering vine such as Clematis helps by adding vertical interest to your garden. Clematis requires similar soil condition and thrives on similar fertilizer and food applications as many species of roses. The vines also produce bright, vivid flowers that contrast nicely with roses. Additionally, they look very attractive climbing behind roses on an arbor, fence or deck. Other vines that look striking near a rose bush include yellow Carolina Jessamine and hyacinth bean vine.
For climbing roses with bare lower canes, a low-growing plant such as salvia or lavender can help fill in the space below the rose’s blooms. Plants with unusual foliage can be just as striking as flowering plants. For unusual foliage, Mexican feather grass and lamb’s ear both provide visual interest. Low-growing prairie flowers such as black-eyed Susan and purple cone flower, and herbs such as dill and parsley can attract butterflies that ward off aphids and beetles. Other companion plants that can help roses fight off aphids include the hummingbird flower, which attracts hummingbirds.
When choosing flowering plants to grow along with roses, select flowering plants that have attractive color schemes. A peach-colored rose will look harmonious next to scarlet red Salvia or an orange daylily. Similarly, white roses and white flowers such as Shasta daisies along with silver foliage plants such as silver sage create the monochromatic effect of a white garden.