Mad About Berries

Guide to Roses And Their Companion Plants

Roses are a beautiful plant that can add a pop of color to your landscape or your countertop. But they do require some particular growing conditions.

Roses need to have moist, well-drained, well-aerated soil to thrive. They also need regular mulching and fertilizing. Several types of companion plants grow well with them, but these should all be plants that minimize root growth competition.

Published: November 12, 2022.

So what plants grow best with roses specifically? What tips and tricks do you need to keep your roses happy and healthy? Read on to find out!

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Growing Conditions for Roses

Roses can be somewhat finicky depending on the variety you choose to grow. While the plant itself can grow in less-than-ideal conditions, the flowers may not look their best.

Roses can also be susceptible to several types of pests and diseases. If the roses are in poor growing conditions, they will be even more vulnerable to these issues. Follow these guidelines to get beautiful rose flowers and healthy plants!

Soil Type

Roses need loose, well-drained soil with lots of organic matter in order to thrive. Organic matter ensures moisture can reach the roots, but excess water can still escape.

Organic matter also provides nutrients and makes them more readily absorbable by the root system.


The soil around roses should be moist but not wet. Water the plants deeply to promote deep root growth. Frequent, smaller waterings will cause the plant to grow roots too close to the surface.

Roses need lots of water to continue producing leaves and blooms. But too much water is also bad for your plant. It would be best to ensure the soil is dry between waterings to prevent root rot.

Mulching will ensure adequate moisture retention. You can use pine straw, wood chips, leaves, or pine bark. There should be a 3-inch layer of whatever mulch type you choose. Keep the mulch away from canes or the center graft, as this will choke the plant.


Fertilizer application is key to ensuring the roses use the available nutrients. The application includes the type of fertilizer, the nutrient analysis, the method of application, and when you should apply it.

You should first fertilize your rose bush when the new leaves begin to poke out at the beginning of the season. Using a high-nitrogen fertilizer will help promote new leaf and shoot growth.

After this, you can use a rose or shrub fertilizer after every flush of blooms. Finish this method six weeks before the first frost in your zone. This will help your plant wind down before it goes dormant.

When using dry fertilizers, you should scratch them into damp soil just underneath the leaves. Stay away from the center graft union or any canes, as this could burn the plant.

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You can also add some compost and worm castings in the soil and as a top dressing to promote moisture retention and add slow-release nutrients.

Always water in any fertilizer you apply to ensure it reaches deep into the soil.

Soil pH

Roses prefer soil that is on the slightly acidic side of neutral. More specifically, they like a soil pH of approximately 6.5. Inadequate soil pH directly affects the plant's ability to absorb nutrients, so this is a crucial aspect of growing roses.

Slow or stunted growth indicates that your soil pH is off. Your plants may also show yellowing of the leaves, burnt shoots, or even death. It is a good idea to test your soil pH and nutrients every growing season, so you only add what the soil absolutely needs.


Roses need one full day of sun to make healthy blooms. A full sun day equals around 6-8 hours of light. The morning sun is critical because it dries the morning dew from the leaves. Wet leaves create a home for disease, so the morning sun should be a top priority.


Roses need to be in a location where they get plenty of airflow. This helps disperse moisture and prevent disease.

You should ensure the roses are away from fruit trees because they share pests and diseases. Roses also need very minimal competition from other deep-rooted plants.


Roses can be susceptible to temperature change. Live plants without a chance to go dormant cannot handle temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover your plants with a blanket or frost cloth if an early first frost or a late last frost is expected.

Roses also can't handle temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. On scorching days, you should provide extra shade for your roses or give them extra water. This will help keep the plant's roots cool and prevent excess drying.

Some rose varieties are suited for some of these extreme parameters. It's good practice to follow the temperature guidelines of your specific variety. But, when in doubt, use these guidelines to keep your plants safe.

Companion Plants For Roses

There are several types of plants that grow well with roses. However, choosing plants that won't compete with your roses for root space is essential. You should also choose plants that don't share pests or diseases with your roses.

The first step in choosing a companion plant is to select plants that require the same soil type, water, and light to grow well. From there, you can choose plants that best fit the look you're going for. You should consider the colors, texture, and shape each plant can provide.


Each of these plants is a great choice to go with your roses. These plants are also a good option if you don't want to replant your landscaping every year.

Remember that you will eventually need to cut the plants back to keep them from taking over the plot.

  • Catmint: This herb is a great choice to go with roses. It requires the same soil type and light conditions. Its aromatic qualities pair well with roses. Plant it 1-2 feet away from your rose bush.

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  • Geranium: These plants are great for adding contrasting height, color, and texture to your rose bushes. They also love the partial shade your roses will provide. Plant them 1-2 feet from your roses.
  • Lavender: This is another aromatic that smells heavenly paired with roses. They require very well-draining soil, so keep that in mind. They need to be 1 foot away from your roses. They also need slightly more acidic soil, 6.7 pH, to thrive.
  • Blue False Indigo: These plants need a lot of sunlight, so plant them far enough away that the roses don't block the light. But the color and texture pair very well with roses!
  • Garden Phlox: These beautiful plants create a rainbow of colors for your roses. They are easily maintained plants that can be transplanted if they get out of control.

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  • Russian Sage: This hardy plant looks similar to catmint and lavender. These plants need a lot of hot, intense sun to thrive. They also need lots of space to spread out.
  • Yarrow: This plant likes partial sun, so planting them with roses is a great idea. The roses provide a fair amount of shade for the smaller yarrow plant.
  • Lily: Several varieties of lilies grow well with rose bushes. Just choose the one that best fits your location and aesthetic! Most of them like conditions very similar to that of roses.
  • Lady's Mantle: This is a great, hardy plant to create some ground cover around your roses. They also like a very similar soil pH to roses. The roses will also provide them with partial shade on hot days.
  • Anise-Hyssop: This edible perennial should be planted about 1 foot away from your roses. The beautiful purple flowers will create a great contrast with several different types of roses.


These plants are a good option if you want to change your landscaping yearly. The color and texture varieties mean you can get really creative with your designs! Many of these also have seeds you can save back at the end of the season if you find a combination you like.

  • Annual Phlox: This heat-hardy plant is a great choice to provide some ground cover for your roses. Their small, pink flowers and light green foliage will help keep the soil cool and moist.
  • Heliotrope: This plant looks similar to lantana but produces a purple flower. They are a good, hardy companion for roses. But they do prefer more acidic soil, around 6.7-7 pH.
  • Lantana: Lantana is a highly heat-tolerant plant that loves the full sun. They come in various colors to go with many types of roses.
  • Larkspur: These delicate purple flowers create an excellent ground cover for roses. They do prefer slightly moist soil, so you should plant them in a bed with some mulch.
  • Million-bells: This trailing plant is another great option for ground cover. They like moist, well-drained soil and will help keep the soil cool around your roses.
  • Pansies: These versatile little flowers grow well as a height-contrasting plant. They will appreciate the small amount of shade your rose bushes will provide.
  • Summer Snapdragon: Snapdragons grow very well in the soil type that roses thrive in. They love lots of organic matter. Their tall, elegant flowers pair well with round rose bushes.
  • Verbena: These small, delicate flowers are an excellent accent for roses. They prefer full sun but can be sensitive to heat. They will grow well in the same temperatures as roses.
  • Flowering Tobacco: These plants love moist, well-drained soils like roses. However, in contrast to roses, they prefer heavy mid-day sun to flower.
  • Persian Sheild: These plants will grow in full sun, but their delicate flowers may fade when planted in direct sunlight. The shade from a rose bush will help them stay vibrant.


These plants will typically have the same growth pattern as your rose bushes. Remember to choose shrubs that won't attract pests to your roses - rose companion plants should repel the pests.

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They may also choke your rose bushes out if they grow too quickly. Make sure they have plenty of space to spread out.

  • Boxwood: These fluffy bushes area a great texture in contrast to rose bushes. They do not tolerate wet soils well, so you should plant them somewhere with plenty of drainage. The fun thing about these bushes is you can manipulate their shape to any design!
  • Smokebush: These magnificent plants produce fluffy flowers. This deciduous plant has a waxy leaf that changes color throughout the seasons. They have a relatively fast growth rate of 1-2 feet per year. So keep an eye out that they don't choke your roses.
  • Spirea: These plants go very well with roses because they also need full sun to produce blooms. Their thick clusters of flowers make beautiful arrangements with cut roses.
  • Red-Twig Dogwood: This shrub does best in full sun to brighten the twigs. The twigs are the focal point of this plant and will be striking even in the winter. They are very cold-tolerant but do not like to be dry. Make sure they get plenty of water.
  • Daphne: These plants like soil with a lot of organic matter. They grow best with mulch covering, like roses, to keep their root system cool and moist. They also like a neutral pH, just like roses.


Roses are a beautiful shrub for your home. Whether you want a plant to frame your yard or a steady supply of cut flowers, there is undoubtedly a variety out there for you! Just keep in mind that roses require specific growing conditions in order to thrive.

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Once you choose your rose variety, there are tons of plants you can choose to plant with your roses. Whether you want a perennial, annual, or shrub, there will surely be something for you! Take some time to evaluate the texture, location, and color palette you want to achieve. That will help you choose the right plants.

You can even use an online application to plan out where you would like all your plants to go. That will help you visualize how the plants will interact with each other. You could also create a spreadsheet with all the plants you are considering. That will help you compare all their qualities to choose the best plants for your roses.

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