Beautiful Companion plants for Roses

As anyone who follows me on social media knows, I’m a little bit obsessed with roses at the moment. A few years ago I thought that roses were beautiful, but that they had too many problems. They can get aphids, greenfly and beetles. And then there is blackspot, mildew, rust… I could go on.

Climbing rose

Climbing rose ‘felicite perpetue’

But then I planted a few roses regardless of my initial reluctance and now I’m hooked! Yes, I do get the occasional blackspot and greenfly, but I have learned to accept it and live with them. Strangely enough, just picking off the affected leaves at the first sign of blackspot and disposing of them means that my roses are quite healthy now.

I spotted some aphids and decided not to panic. A few days later I saw a little army of ladybirds taking care of the problem and I was glad to let nature restore balance.

So at the moment, all is well with my roses. In fact, more than well, they are thriving!

combination of roses

Some of the roses in our garden

Plants that look great with roses

When I’ve visited gardens I’ve noticed that the rose gardens in particular consist of beds planted with rows of rose bushes. And although some can look stunning, I much prefer a rose that is underplanted or mixed in with other plants in a border. This year in particular, one of my roses ‘Natasha Richardson’ and ‘Sherwood Forest’ are looking great amongst the foliage of a japanese anemone. The soft pinks and creamy white of the roses just complement each other and will look even more stunning once the anemone flowers.

I particularly like how my smaller rose ‘Topkapi’ is dwarfed by the tall and elegant flower buds of my Japanese anemone, I love how the long stems gently sway above the roses.

Rose ‘topkapi’ with anemone

Roses are beautiful when in flower but their bottom halves look a little bare as most of the flowers tend to be higher up on the plant. That’s why I like planting low growing plants underneath the roses, to hide the bare bits.

Natasha Richardson rose with Anemone

In my own garden I have roses growing amongst lavender in one part of the garden. In another part, I have roses growing up obelisks with clematis and jasmine. Alchemilla Mollis, or also known as Lady’s Mantle, is a great plant to use under roses.

Rose with Lavender in background

alchemilla mollis

Alchemilla mollis

I planted a white shrub rose amongst a lovely blue geranium called ‘azure rush’ which I think is related to ‘rozanne’. That combination looked stunning although the geranium very quickly swamped the rose as it was only small. This combination would have looked great with a larger shrub rose.

Geranium Azure Rush

Geranium azure rush

Great tip to avoid black spot

I have read that roses planted amongst salvias or alliums very rarely get black spot. I haven’t tried this myself but I will definitely plant some salvias and alliums amongst my roses as I love them and they make a stunning combination.

Salvia Microphylla ‘Cerro Potosi’                    

This stunning Salvia ‘Cerro Potosi’ is available from Sarah Raven


salvia greggii salmon dance

Salvia Greggii ‘Salmon Dance’

This Salvia Greggii ‘Salmon Dance’ is available from Sarah Raven 


Salvia ‘Ember’s Wish’

Salvia ‘Ember’s Wish’ available from Sarah Raven

When underplanting roses make sure that the salvias or plants you are using are low growing to avoid drowning out the roses.

Salvias are from the sage family so I might try planting sage with roses to see if this has the same effect and because I love combining herbs or vegetables with flowers in a garden. Similarly to a potager but on a smaller scale.

Alliums are also helpful plants to combine with roses as they are also supposed to prevent mildew and blackspot so I might try planting the smaller chives, since they are from the same family.

I try not to use chemicals or pesticides in my garden so anything I can do to prevent this is worth a try. Have you found any plant combinations that you love or that is beneficial? Would love to know, let me know in the comments!

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