31 Companion Plants to Grow with Roses This Season

Are you looking for the best plants to grow alongside your roses? There are a variety of plants that beautify rose gardens while also building their health and resiliency! In this article, gardening expert and rose enthusiast Danielle Sherwood examines her favorite rose companions, with names and pictures of each.

Roses next to companion plants in garden


If you enjoy growing roses as much as I do, you might be tempted to put all your gardening efforts into adding more of them. But did you know that a monoculture of roses makes them more susceptible to disease and pest infestations?

Companion planting doesn’t only increase the beauty of your garden. It also creates biodiversity that attracts beneficial insects, repels unwanted pests, and increases soil health, all crucial for strong, beautifully blooming roses!

So, don’t make the rookie mistake of leaving your roses lonely this year. Add a few companion plants to create a healthy garden ecosystem. Less time battling common rose pests and diseases means a better gardening experience for you, too!

If you’re not sure where to start, I’ve put together a list of my favorite rose companion plants for a gorgeous and healthy garden. If you’re more about beauty than function, I’ve also included options that complement your roses to make them even more striking. Let’s dig in!

About Companion Planting

Close-up of blooming perennial roses and lilies in a summer garden bed. Roses has beautiful lush, double, pale pink and bright pink, semi-double flowers. The leaves are pinnately compound, dark green, with serrated edges. Lilies have tall erect stems with elongated belt-like leaves and large tubular orange and yellow flowers, grouped 3-5 in inflorescences.
Companion planting is the creation of a mutually beneficial ecosystem by combining a variety of plant species in one space.

In a natural ecosystem, a variety of plants grow together, working in tandem to provide mutually beneficial advantages. Often called intercropping or polyculture, companion planting in the rose garden provides the same advantages by bringing in a diversity of species of plants to one space.

Vegetable gardeners have known about the benefits of companion planting for centuries. By growing plants together that have a symbiotic relationship, you can reduce your need for harmful sprays, expensive fertilizers, and weedkillers.

As a result, you’ll have healthier plants with increased resistance to pests, diseases, and a more beautiful garden! Let’s take a closer look at how companion planting works and the benefits it provides.

Rose Companion Planting Benefits

Close-up of a flowering perennial summer garden. Rose bushes and lavender bushes bloom in the garden. The rose bush has lush, large, peony-shaped, double flowers in bright pink, and bright green oval leaves with serrated edges. Lavender grows in small clumps, forming thin, tall stems with purple spikes from small flowers.
Companion plants are able to attract beneficial insects and repel pests, improve aeration and drainage, and reduce the risk of disease.

We know companion plants make our garden healthier. But how do they work? Here are some ways intentional companion planting will benefit your roses.

Biological Control 

I’m willing to bet that nearly all experienced rose gardeners have had their fill of aphids (and sawfly larvae, Japanese Beetles, thrips, and spider mites, for a start!).

While most rose pests are a critical part of the natural food web, you can reduce the risk of infestation by growing companion plants that repel pests, confuse them by masking the smell of roses, interrupt their feeding and egg-laying cycles, and attract the beneficial predators that feast on them.

This will reduce your reliance on synthetic controls that over time, harm your lungs, wildlife, and your garden’s ecosystem.

Living Mulch

Soil health is the foundation of a healthy garden. The use of companion plants as a living mulch can conserve moisture, aerate to improve drainage, provide nutrients, and support soil microorganisms. Low growing plants at the feet of your roses also work to reduce weed growth.

Disease Prevention

Did you know that companion planting can reduce risk of disease? When water hits bare soil that houses fungus and blight, it creates a splashing effect that spreads disease to your roses. Companion planting can mediate this effect.

Some companions even release antifungal compounds into the soil. Interplanting makes it harder for diseases to reach their favorite rose hosts by interrupting their pathway to the next plant.


Many gardeners live in climates that experience extreme winds and cold. Via companion planting, you can shelter the roots of your roses to increase stability and temperature, or use larger plants to provide a wind barrier.

Top Companions for Roses

Close-up of blooming roses and white allium in a sunny garden. Lush rose bushes have double peach flowers and oval dark green leaves. Allium has tall stems with large, globular inflorescences of small, densely clustered white flowers.
When choosing a companion plant, consider both ornamental and ecological value.

Finding the perfect companion for your roses depends on your goals. While some plants, like alfalfa, provide a variety of well-studied benefits, you may not like their look intermixed with your roses.

In my opinion, you should consider ornamental as well as ecological value. Beauty (and fragrance) are why we’re drawn to roses in the first place! Fortunately, there are lots of options that provide both.

Consider time of bloom, nutritional needs, and growth habit when companion planting. You don’t want plants that will crowd or over-shade your roses or compete for nutrients. With all this in mind, here are my favorite companions, with a short overview of why they deserve a place in the rose garden.

Suggested Companions

Most of the following plants have pretty flowers and garden benefits. The pollen in flowers attracts predatory insects that prey on rose pests while providing soil cover and enhancing the color and form of your roses.

Planting species native to your area will provide the most advantages, so I’ve included some native wildflowers that I love planting with my roses.


Close-up of a flowering Agastache plant in a sunny garden. The plant is an upright spikelet of tubular, two-lipped bright purple flowers.
This fragrant purple wildflower pairs well with yellow and pink roses.
common-name common name Hummingbird Mint, Giant Hyssop
botanical-name botanical name Agastache
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Purple
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-10

Agastache is a gorgeous, fragrant native wildflower with tall spikes of flowers. The upright bloom form is a lovely contrast to the roundness of roses. The most popular varieties are purple or blue, which is beautiful intermixed with white, orange, yellow, and pink roses.

Pollinators love agastache. As part of the mint family, it has a strong smell that repels deer and confuses rose pests by masking the smell of their favorite plants. You might enjoy its strong anise scent!

Benefits: Pest and deer repellent, beneficial attractant, beauty.

How to Plant: Agastache grows about 2-4 ft, so don’t plant it near mini roses, where it will block sunlight. It grows readily from seed and prefers sandy, well-drained soils.


Close-up of blooming Coreopsis flowers in a sunny garden. The flowers are small, disc-shaped, flat, daisy-like, bicolor, bright yellow with a bright red border around the centers.
This native plant attracts many beneficial insects and exudes a sweet fragrance.
common-name common name Tickseed
botanical-name botanical name Coreopsis
plant-type plant type Annual, Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Yellow, Yellow Variations
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Coreopsis is such a bright, happy yellow flower! If you want a plant that attracts tons of beneficial bugs that require no maintenance, this is it. Coreopsis is a North American native that thrives on neglect.

These little flowers are beloved by native bees and have a sweet fragrance. They’ll come back every year in zones 4-9 and reseed easily. Plant them along with white or lavender roses for a beautiful contrast.

Benefits: Beauty, beneficial attractant.

How to Plant: Sow the seeds in early spring. They have an upright growth habit and reach 2-4 feet. They like plenty of sun and don’t need much supplemental water.


Close-up of blooming Alliums against a blurred green background. Large globular inflorescences of small purple flowers with greenish centers.
Alliums produce attractive globular purple flowers with a slight onion scent that repel pests.
common-name common name Ornamental Onions
botanical-name botanical name Allium
plant-type plant type Herbaceous Perennial Bulb
bloom-colors bloom colors Purple,
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

An ornamental member of the onion family, alliums sport eye-catching globes of small purple flowers that remind me of Dr. Seuss illustrations. These beauties are fun and valuable in the garden.

Though not noticed by humans, alliums have a slight oniony smell that aphids detest. The smell extends into the soil, where it deters Japanese Beetle grubs. Predatory insects like parasitic wasps love allium nectar and will help you out by killing other pests.

My favorite varieties are the giant ‘Globemaster’ and the softer pink “Millenium’. Both are perennial to zones 3-8.

Benefits: Beauty, pest repellent, beneficial attractant.

How to Plant: Know the full height of your chosen variety before planting. Globe Master grows tall, but I love the look of it intermixed with rose blooms. You could grow the smaller varieties in front of climbing roses.  It’s easiest to grow alliums from bulbs.


Close-up of a flowering Yarrow plant against a blurred green background. Numerous tiny white flowers in the shape of a wide umbrella are held on an upright stem covered with thin, dark green fern-like leaves.
Yarrow has deep tap roots that improve the soil and store nutrients.
common-name common name Yarrow
botanical-name botanical name Achillea
plant-type plant type Herbaceous Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors White, Pink
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

With loads of tiny flowers in a wide umbel shape, Yarrow is irresistible to predatory insects like lacewings. It’s also thought to serve as a nutrient accumulator, with deep tap roots that mine the soil for calcium, magnesium, copper, and potassium, all micronutrients needed for healthy roses. Yarrow’s long tap roots can also break up compacted soil.

Yarrow has delicate fern-like foliage that emits a strong odor, repelling some pests. It comes in a variety of colors, but the white version is native to most of the United States. It does spread easily, so be prepared to pull them out wherever you don’t want them.

Benefits: Nutrient accumulator, soil aerator, beneficial attractant, pest repellent.

How to Plant: Yarrow grows easily from seed, and one plant can soon produce a colony via underground rhizomes. Plant in spring or early summer, and make sure you like the way they look before they naturalize in your garden!


Close-up of marigolds blooming in a sunny garden. Marigolds consist of tiny inflorescences surrounded by many layers of delicate, ruffled orange-red petals and a thick, hollow stem with dark green, fern-like leaves.
Marigolds are delightful, brightly colored flowers whose scent repels pests and attracts ladybugs and parasitic wasps.
common-name common name Marigold
botanical-name botanical name Tagetes
plant-type plant type Annual, Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Orange, Yellow, Red
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Don’t overlook the value of the humble marigold. Marigolds are commonly grown in as companions in the vegetable garden. But these joyful little orange, red, and yellow flowers can provide a service to your roses, too!

Previously thought to repel bugs, marigolds actually work by emitting a scent that masks the smell of the ornamentals you want to protect. Plant them near your roses to prevent aphid infestations and attract predators like ladybugs, parasitic wasps, and hoverflies.

Benefits: Masking, Beneficial Attractant, Beauty.

How to Plant: Marigolds are very easy to grow from seed in early spring and often reseed themselves. I plant them freely all around my garden, as they have beneficial value to a variety of plants. They stay low, providing a great cover for bare soil.


Close-up of blooming Larkspur flowers in a sunny garden, with climbing roses blooming in the background. Larkspur has showy blue bell-shaped flowers along the top of an upright stem. The leaves are deeply divided into numerous lobed segments. Roses have large bright red double flowers and dark green oval leaves.
Larkspur is an annual that attracts Japanese beetles and poisons them with its leaves.
common-name common name Larkspur
botanical-name botanical name Delphinium
plant-type plant type Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Purple, Blue
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

This annual flower provides natural Japanese beetle control. These pests are attracted by their pretty flowers and eat the foliage, which poisons them.

Use larkspur as a “trap plant” (a sacrificial crop pests love, luring them away from your favorites) near your roses if you struggle with these pesky bugs!

Larkspur comes in many varieties, with some developing large spikes of ornamental flowers that need staking for support. Their shape is beautiful with roses, and the colors available will please any palette. I love the intense blues to contrast with apricot-colored roses.

Benefits: Trap plant for Japanese Beetles, beauty.

How to Plant: Larkspur loves full sun. It grows best when directly sown in the garden.

Bee Balm

Close-up of flowering Bee Balm plants in a sunny garden. The plant has beautiful open flowers, similar to daisies, with tubular petals of a pink-purple hue. The leaves are elongated, lanceolate, bright green with purple veins.
Bee Balm is a gorgeous bright flower that attracts beneficial insects and adds a variety of colors to your flower garden.
common-name common name Bee Balm
botanical-name botanical name Monarda
plant-type plant type Herbaceous Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, Magenta, Purple
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Another beauty from the mint family, Bee Balm offers bright swaths of color in the garden to complement your roses. It attracts beneficial bugs, and certain varieties (Monarda Didyma) ward off powdery mildew.

Bee Balm is a favorite for cottage gardens. It does spread readily and can grow up to 3 ft. tall. The blooms come in shades of pink, red, white, and purple. The flowers have a somewhat raggedy form. I love these planted en masse behind a row of mini roses.

Benefits: Beneficial attractant, powdery mildew resistant.

How to Plant: Bee Balm is easy to grow from seed, and easy to care for once fully grown. You can sow it directly by scattering seeds on the soil surface in early spring.


Close-up of blooming ruby red Astrantia and creamy white and peach roses against a blurred leafy background. Astrantia has small purple-pink star-shaped flowers with many long, prominent stamens of the same shade. Roses are large, double, creamy white and bright pink-orange.
This perennial has faintly fragrant, star-shaped flowers that are a trap for aphids.
common-name common name Great Masterwort
botanical-name botanical name Astrantia
plant-type plant type Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, Magenta, Purple
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-7

Astrantia is a pretty perennial that repels slugs and snails and works as a “trap plant” for aphids. They are also deer-resistant, making them an all-around great choice for exposed country gardens.

Their unusual flowers remind me of tiny fireworks and are available in many colors. They like a bit of shade, so they won’t be deterred when grown at the foot of large, dense rose bushes that block out sunlight.

Benefits: Pest Repellent, Trap Plant, Beauty.

How to Plant: They prefer moist soil and partial to full shade. They grow well from seed but plant them in the fall to provide the cold stratification they need to germinate.


Close-up of many blooming Sedums in the garden. The plant has oval, smooth, luscious, dark green leaves and a mass of tiny, star-shaped, light coral-pink flowers in umbellate inflorescences.
These long-blooming sedums are quite drought tolerant and produce light coral pink flowers in umbellate florets.
common-name common name Stonecrop
botanical-name botanical name Sedum
plant-type plant type Perennial Succulent
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, White, Yellow, Red
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

If you’re a lazy gardener like me, you’ll love long-blooming, low-maintenance sedum. This fleshy, drought-resistant family of plants is completely carefree and can bloom for up to 6 months in some areas.

You can choose from a huge menu of sedum varieties, but my favorites for growing with roses are ‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘Chocolate Drop’.

‘Autumn Joy’ has blue-green foliage and pretty cerise pink blooms that stand about 2 feet tall. ‘Chocolate Drop’ has light coral-pink blooms and lovely reddish-brown foliage that looks beautiful paired with brighter green rose leaves.

Both varieties stand up to intense heat and have a clump-forming habit that works well in a rose bed. They attract bees and provide dense growth that serves as living mulch. 

Benefits: Trap Beauty, Pollinator magnet, living mulch.

How to Plant: Sedums don’t need much care. They grow easily from cuttings or direct-sown from seed in early spring.


Close-up of a flowering field of Salvia in full sun. This perennial bears many small, tubular dark purple flowers, with two lips, clustered in terminal inflorescences.
This herbaceous perennial has tubular dark purple flowers that bloom profusely in spring.
common-name common name Sage
botanical-name botanical name Salvia
plant-type plant type Annual, Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Purple, Burgundy, White
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-10

Salvia is my absolute favorite filler plant because it looks amazing with just about everything. I love the deep purples best, but the red blooms of native Salvia ‘Greggii’ also appeal, especially when planted amongst red roses.

In addition to looking beautiful, salvias are sturdy, nectar-rich, and produce pungent-smelling essential oils that repel pests. A member of the sage family, salvias have soft velvety leaves and spikes of tubular flowers. They come in both perennial and annual varieties.

Benefits: Beauty, pest repellent.

How to Plant: Sow salvia seed in early spring. They appreciate full sun and well-drained soil.


Close-up of a flowering Nasturtiums plant in a garden. This groundcover has beautiful tubular bright yellow flowers with orange-red veins in the centers and thin stamens. The leaves are large, rounded, dark green with thin white veins.
Nasturtiums produce attractive, brightly colored flowers and large, round leaves.
common-name common name Nasturtium
botanical-name botanical name Tropaeolum majus
plant-type plant type Annual
bloom-colors bloom colors Yellow, Orange
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

One of the most studied companion plants, these sweet flowers with attractive round leaves thrive in poor soils. Available in all the colors of the rainbow and both trailing and compact growth habits, you need nasturtiums in your garden!

Nasturtiums attract aphids and squash bugs, serving as a “trap plant”. Their abundant nectar and spicy scent bring in a profusion of pest predators like ladybugs and parasitic wasps. They also work as a dynamic accumulator, drawing up calcium from the soil and making it easier to access for your roses.

Growing low to the ground, nasturtiums are an excellent living mulch and weed barrier. As a perk, the entire plant is edible!

Benefits: Beauty, trap plant, nutrient accumulation, beneficial attractant, living mulch.

How to Plant: Nasturtiums don’t like rich soil or attention. Plant seeds a couple of weeks after your last frost and let them be! They produce large pods filled with plump seeds, so be sure to harvest them to plant again next year.

Sweet Alyssum

Close-up of a flowering Sweet Alyssum plant in a sunny garden. The plant has tiny white and purple flowers with four petals, collected in rounded inflorescences. The leaves are narrow, gray-green, smooth.
This ground cover produces incredible miniature flowers with a sweet honey scent.
common-name common name Sweet Alyssum
botanical-name botanical name Lobularia maritima
plant-type plant type Annual
bloom-colors bloom colors White, Purple
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Sweet Alyssum is a charming, densely flowering ground cover that grows in tidy mounds. It works well as a living mulch when planted at the base of roses, and its sweet honey scent attracts a variety of beneficial predatory insects, including the aphid-eating hoverfly.

This diminutive, little flower also suppresses weed growth. It looks gorgeous when allowed to spill over the edges of the border.

Benefits: Living mulch, beauty, beneficial attractant.

How to Plant: Sweet Alyssum is a hardy annual and will last well into fall. It often reseeds itself. Its tidy growth habit makes it easy to squeeze in anywhere!

Hardy Geraniums

Close-up of a flowering Hardy Geranium plant in the garden. The plant has beautiful blue-blue, ruffled flowers with prominent stamens from the centers. The flower has five petals with thin dark purple veins. The leaves are bright green, lobed.
This popular flower produces attractive cup-shaped blooms in blue-violet, pink or white.
common-name common name Sweet Alyssum
botanical-name botanical name Lobularia maritima
plant-type plant type Annual
bloom-colors bloom colors White, Purple
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Hardy Geraniums come back year after year in harsh conditions, don’t mind poor soil, and spread slowly into clumps that provide soil cover and conserve moisture.

With blooms in blue, purple, pink, and white, there is a hardy geranium that will complement your roses. Best of all, their strong fragrance repels a variety of undesired insects like aphids, mosquitos, and ticks.

Hardy Geraniums love partial shade, making them perfect for planting under large rose shrubs.

Benefits: Pest repellent, living mulch, beauty.

How to Plant: Hardy geraniums benefit from fall dividing every few years, so check with a gardening friend to see if they have a clump to share! Otherwise, they propagate readily from seed or cuttings. Seedlings do grow somewhat slowly, but once mature will spread beautifully underneath your roses, hiding their leggy canes!


Close-up of blooming Penstemon flowers against a blurred background of a blooming garden. The plant has slender stems with many large, showy, tubular bright pink flowers.
Penstemon has showy tubular flowers that attract beneficial insects.
common-name common name Bearded Tongue
botanical-name botanical name Penstemon
plant-type plant type Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, Gold, Yellow, Orange, White, Red
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

Penstemons have showy, tube-shaped flowers beloved by pollinators and are native to much of the United States. They are drought tolerant, making them a great companion for established roses that need watering only once a week.

Penstemons attract beneficial insects like parasitic wasps and ladybugs, reducing your aphid population. They are beautiful ornamentals as well and come in vivid shades of blue, purple, pink, white, and red. Penstemons are tough perennials, making them a low-maintenance choice.

Benefits: Beneficial attractant, beauty.

How to Plant: Penstemons grow readily from seed and come back every year. Depending on the variety, they can grow from 1 to 6 ft. tall, so pair them with your roses accordingly!


Close-up of blooming Feverfew flowers in a sunny garden. The flowers are small, daisy-like, with yellow centers and white radiant inflorescences, collected in brushes at the tips of the branches. The leaves are lobed and green-yellow.
Feverfew is a great medicinal plant with a strong citrus scent that repels aphids.
common-name common name Feverfew
botanical-name botanical name Tanacetum parthenium
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors White
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

I have a dense row of snowball Feverfew planted in front of two of my favorite climbing roses, and as a result, they are completely unbothered by aphids. This medicinal plant, often used for migraine relief, repels pests with its strong citrusy scent.

The cheerful white puffs of the Feverfew also make a perfect filler for rose arrangements. The original variety, also called “Bride’s Buttons” also makes a great companion plant.

Be sure to plant them where you don’t mind them filling in a lot of space. These little flowers reseed readily and form short shrubs in no time.

Benefits: Pest repellent, beauty.

How to Plant: Feverfew grows easily almost anywhere and is simple to grow from seed. Plant it near taller roses for a pretty and beneficial combo.


Close-up of a blooming Nepeta flower with beautiful creamy white roses in a sunny garden. Nepeta has a long stem with a spike of tubular blue-violet flowers. Roses are large, double, have rounded, creamy petals, neatly placed in several layers.
This aromatic herb produces beautiful spikes of blue-violet flowers.
common-name common name Catmint
botanical-name botanical name Nepeta
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Purple
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Nepeta, also known as catmint, is an attractive aromatic herb with spikes of lovely blue-violet flowers. Though there are many varieties, ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ is my favorite, as it stays low and bushy.

The colors are simply beautiful when interplanted with roses. Though it’s in the mint family, it doesn’t spread aggressively.

Nepeta repels Japanese beetles and aphids. It can also handle poor soils. Nepeta is a trusty, workhorse perennial, and a must for rose gardens!

Benefits: Beauty, pest repellent.

How to Plant: Depending on the variety you choose, Nepeta can grow tall and lanky or small and tidy. I prefer the small, round habit of ‘Cat’s Pajamas’, which can grow right in front of or between my roses. It’s easy to grow from seed and will bloom in its first year!


Close-up of a flowering Phlox plant in full sun in a garden. The plant has a dense rounded mass of small tubular bright pink flowers that have five flared lobes.
Phlox produces delightful tubular flowers in dense masses.
common-name common name Phlox
botanical-name botanical name Phlox
plant-type plant type Perennial, Annual
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, Purple, Red, White
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Whether you choose the creeping variety to blanket your garden in color or a midsize shrub in a complementary shade, phlox is stunning with roses. Upright phlox have little star-shaped flowers on large, fragrant panicles. The ground cover version grows in spreading mounds ideal for the front of the border.

If you are committed to a native garden, you can opt for Phlox Paniculata which grows to 4 feet, is a host plant for butterflies, and doesn’t mind the shade under a vigorous rose bush.

Some Phlox varieties are prone to powdery mildew. Thin and transplant as needed to maintain good air circulation.

Benefits: Attracts Pollinators, Beauty.

How to Plant: Phlox are most easily grown from transplants or cuttings. Mature plants often self-seed in the garden. Some varieties like more shade or moisture than others, so check the requirements of the phlox you’ve chosen for its ideal environment.


Garden rose and purple echinacea grow together in a summer garden. Coneflower forms a large flower, which consists of many thin, narrow, oblong light purple rays-petals arranged around a copper cone. The rose is semi-double, pale orange in color, with golden stamens in the center.
Echinacea is grown for both medicinal and ornamental purposes.
common-name common name Coneflower
botanical-name botanical name Echinacea angustifolia
plant-type plant type Herbaceous Perennial, Native Plant
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, Purple, Red, White, Orange
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Coneflower, or Echinacea, is a North-American native with a long bloom time, a deep tap root that breaks up compacted soil, and a long list of beneficial bugs who love it!

Long grown for its medicinal value, Coneflower also brings a lot of ornamental appeal to the garden. Echinacea receives frequent visits from the butterflies that seek it out.

With bright, slightly drooping petals and contrasting large centers, Coneflowers are pretty as well as practical. The most well-known is the lavender ‘Echinacea Purpurea’, but coneflowers can come in vivid raspberry-red, rusty orange, neon pink, or even multicolor versions.

Coneflowers form good-sized clumps, but don’t spread aggressively. They are the perfect height for hiding bare rose canes. Reliable and tough, plant coneflower anywhere you need a no-fuss bright spot.

Benefits: Pollinator attractant, beauty.

How to Plant: Echinacea grows well from seed but needs to be cold-stratified. Plant in the fall for next year’s blooms.

Sea Holly

Close-up of a Sea Holly plant in a sunny garden. The plant has thin blue stems at the tops of which form blue-green cones and characteristic silver-blue bract collars.
Sea Holly is an unusual gray-blue flower that pairs well with roses and other flowers in your perennial garden.
common-name common name Blue Sea Holly
botanical-name botanical name Eryngium planum
plant-type plant type Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Blue, Silver, Purple
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

What is that steely blue, unusual flower tucked inside your florist bouquet? Sea Holly of course!  Sea Holly is an interesting plant with glittering blue flower tops that look like little thistles. They are a bit prickly, making them a great deer deterrent!

Sea Holly’s rigid structure is a fantastic contrast to soft, round rose blooms. While most varieties grow 2-4 ft. tall, some varieties, like the flashy purple Giant Sea Holly, can reach up to 8 feet tall! Plan for your variety’s mature size when planting, and put taller cultivars at the back of the border.

Beneficial pollinators and predators flock to Sea Holly in summer. Their long tap root makes them hard to transplant but works as a bonus soil aerator. They look wonderful in bouquets, freshly cut or dried.

Benefits: Deters deer and rabbits, reduces soil compaction, beneficial attractant.

How to Plant: Sea Holly will grow from seed, but it needs a cold winter outside before spring germination. Plant it in fall for best results. It likes to be divided every few years, giving you more plants!


Close-up of blooming rose and lavender bushes in a sunny garden. The rose bush is large, tall, lush, has bright green pinnately compound leaves of oval leaflets with serrated edges. Large pale pink double flowers with neatly organized rounded petals. Lavender bushes have slender tall stems with small purple flowers arranged on thorns.
Lavender and roses are a classic combination in your perennial garden.
common-name common name Lavender
botanical-name botanical name Lavandula
plant-type plant type Herbaceous Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Blue, Lavender, Purple
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

If you flip through a rose catalog and come across a picture of a mixed border, chances are it includes lavender. Lavender and roses are just a classic, no-fail combination!

The wispy, flowering stalks of lavender in soothing shades of pink and purple are the quintessential cottage garden backdrop for your roses. Its smell is dreamy, too of course. 

While we enjoy lavender’s famous fragrance and even use the herb in culinary creations, lots of garden pests find it downright repellent. Lavender is loathed by rabbits, ants, mosquitos, fleas, and ticks. However, it’s often smothered by bees, who adore its sweet nectar.

Benefits: Repels pests, beauty, beneficial attractant.

How to Plant: Lavender grows well from cuttings but is somewhat difficult to grow from seed. It doesn’t appreciate soggy soil, so allow it to dry out between waterings. Lavender loves full sun.

Lamb’s Ear

Close-up of a flowering Lamb's Ear plant in a sunny garden. The plant has tall stems covered with tiny purple flowers and elongated, oval, soft, velvety silver-green leaves. The leaves are densely covered with a layer of tiny white hairs that make them soft to the touch and give them a silvery hue.
Lamb’s Ear is a ground cover with soft, velvety silver-green leaves.
common-name common name Lamb’s Ear
botanical-name botanical name Stachys byzantina
plant-type plant type Herbaceous Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, Purple
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Lamb’s Ear, with its soft, velvety petals, just demands to be touched. It’s a hit for a children’s garden. This is a particularly lovely ground cover for your rose bed, with silvery green foliage that pops against the darker leaves of surrounding plants.

Lamb’s Ear grows low to the ground, slowly spreading into small mounds. It softens a formal hardscape and won’t compete with your roses. Most pests avoid the hairy leaves, but the plant sometimes succumbs to slugs.

Most gardeners grow Lamb’s Ear for the foliage, but it does have an interesting purple bloom. Snip them off as they sprout to keep the plant tidy, or let them bloom if you like the look.

Benefits: Living Mulch, Beauty.

How to Plant: Lamb’s Ear can be divided and is easily transplanted. A bit of a slow starter from seed, it’s best to start it indoors about eight weeks before your last frost.


Close-up of blooming Violas in the garden. The flowers are small, reminiscent of small faces, have three rounded white petals with dark purple spots and veins, and two dark purple rounded petals located behind the white petals, on top. The flowers have bright yellow hues in the centers.
Violas is a herbaceous plant with delightful cute flowers that do well in both sun and shade.
common-name common name VIolets
botanical-name botanical name Viola
plant-type plant type Annual, Biennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Blue, Purple, White
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 1-10

These miniature flowers come in a broad spectrum of color combinations, and they have darling little faces. My 5-year-old greets her violas every day and loves watching tiny colonies spread into a little ocean of blooms. They make a good living mulch and pollinator attractant.

Violas do well in sun and shade and like somewhat moist, well-drained soil. They have a long bloom season and if allowed to get a bit leggy, make an adorable addition to bouquets.

The most famous of these sweet little flowers is ‘Johnny Jump Up’, a fun yellow, white, and purple variety. Violas come in shades from cream to nearly black and everything in between.

Benefits: Pollinator Attractant, Beauty.

How to Plant: Violas grow easily from seed. In warm climates, direct sow in fall. If you have cold winters, plant violas in early spring. They work well as mulch for potted roses.

Prairie Smoke

Close-up of a Prairie Smoke plant in the garden. The plant has bright green, fern-like leaves, and burgundy-purple stems with drooping pink bell-shaped flowers.
Prairie Smoke is a wildflower with lovely soft pink feathery seed heads.
common-name common name Prairie Smoke
botanical-name botanical name Geum triflorum
plant-type plant type Herbaceous Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Red, Pink
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Awarded Garden Club of America’s Plant of the Year in 2020, Prairie Smoke is an ethereal, delicate choice for the front of a rose border.

Native to northern North America, this geum species is most known for its fascinating wispy seed heads in soft pink. Its nodding pink flowers and ferny foliage are remarkable as well.

Prairie smoke has a generous amount of pollen and is especially valued as a first nectar source for awakening queen bees in spring. Plant this airy plant in front of tall pink roses for a soft and romantic style.

Benefits: Beneficial attractant, beauty.

How to Plant: Prairie Smoke spreads slowly into a pretty ground cover that tolerates drought. It likes full sun, so make sure you plant it with roses that don’t block out the sun.


Close-up of a flowering Louise Odier rose bush and thyme in a summer garden. Thyme is an herb with tiny, evergreen, whorled, fragrant greyish green leaves and tiny pinkish lavender tubular flowers. The rose bush has large, double, peony-shaped flowers of bright pink color with ruffled petals.
This herb is a great companion for roses as it has a strong scent that confuses pests.
common-name common name Thyme
botanical-name botanical name Thymus
plant-type plant type Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors White, Pink, Purple
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Thyme, mostly thought of as a tasty herb, is a wonderful companion plant for roses. It’s a host plant for lacewings, which prey on a number of garden pests. Its strong scent also masks the fragrance of roses, confusing pests who like to attack them. Thyme repels larger pests like deer and rabbits too!

Thyme has fibrous roots that grow deep to loosen heavy soils and has dainty purple flowers.

Staying low to the ground, thyme, is a very useful living mulch. For a carpet of color effect, try the closely related creeping thyme, which retains moisture in dry areas.

Benefits: Living mulch, host plant, scent masker.

How to Plant: Thyme grows well from divisions or cuttings. It can be planted from seed, but germination can be difficult. Many gardeners start it indoors and transplant when temperatures exceed 70 degrees. Once established, it’s hardy down to zone 4.

Lady’s Mantle

Close-up of a blooming Lady's Mantle bush and a climbing rose in the garden. Lady's Mantle has large, dark green, semi-circular, scalloped leaves and fluffy greenish-yellow small flowers that rise above the leaves. The rose bush has large, double, delicate, peony-shaped, pale pink and hot pink flowers.
Lady’s Mantle is a perennial plant with large bright green leaves and fluffy greenish-yellow flowers.
common-name common name Lady’s Mantle
botanical-name botanical name Alchemilla mollis
plant-type plant type Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Yellow
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Lady’s Mantle has immediately recognizable large, scallop-edged leaves of bright green, which sparkle when they collect rain and morning dew. The leaves are pretty enough, but the real standout is its fluffy chartreuse blooms.

A gorgeous combination with red and burgundy roses, Lady’s Mantle is a long-lasting cut flower and popular florist filler.

Use Lady’s Mantle to attract pollinators and frame a border in style. It can handle sun but will appreciate the dappled shade of tall roses.

Benefits: Beauty, living mulch, pollinator magnet.

How to Plant: Lady’s Mantle can be divided and shared. It grows somewhat slowly from seed, so be patient. Once mature, it will spread to fill the front of the bed.

Bachelor Buttons

Close-up of blooming Bachelor Buttons flowers in the garden. The flowers are small, showy, spreading in appearance, consisting of small, narrow, serrated petals that are arranged around a central purple disc.
Bachelor Buttons produce showy blue flowers and are tolerant of nutrient-poor soil.
common-name common name Bachelor’s Button, Cornflower
botanical-name botanical name Centaurea cyanus
plant-type plant type Annual
bloom-colors bloom colors Blue, Pink, White
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Also called cornflower, Centaurea blooms in a special hue of blue found nowhere else. The flowers of this prolific plant are like little halos of fringe atop mini thistles. Available in classic blue with violet centers or in pale pink and white, this easy grower is beautiful in bouquets.

These quickly spread by seed to fill in your rose garden, so only plant them where you’d like an informal look. In fact, the variety Centaurea ‘Cyanus’ spreads so aggressively it has been labeled invasive in some states. Check your state’s extension office before you plant, or use a cultivar like ‘Frosty’, with pink, white, and blue bicolor blooms.

Bachelor Buttons’ nectar has high sugar content and attracts hoverflies, lacewings and ladybugs which then feed on your rose pests. They love full sun and will tolerate low-nutrient soil.

Benefits: Beneficial attractant, beauty.

How to Plant: This is an easy one to grow! Sow directly in fall in zones 9-10, and 2 weeks before your last frost date in zones 5-8.

Black Eyed Susans

Close-up of blooming Black Eyed Susan flowers against a blurred green background. The plant has thin vertical stems and large heads with prominent black cones surrounded by bright yellow rays.
Black Eyed Susan produces large bright yellow flowers with black central cones.
common-name common name Black Eyed Susan
botanical-name botanical name Rudbeckia Hirta
plant-type plant type Biennial, Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Yellow, Gold
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Black-eyed Susans are a sunny member of the Aster family. They have a place in any garden for their ability to draw in pest predators and pollinators. They are a host plant for the lepidoptera moth, attract bees, butterflies, and birds, and will make your garden a friendlier place for roses to flourish.

Black-eyed Susans are tough native perennials with few maintenance needs. They enjoy full sun but will tolerate part shade. They self-sow, forming attractive golden clumps in the border.

Try Black-eyed Susans with roses in burgundy or lavender tones for a striking combination. They generally grow to about 3 feet tall, but there are varieties that will grow much higher or have a groundcover-like growth habit.

‘Goldsturm’ is a popular option with long-lasting summer color. It received The Royal Holticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Benefits: Pollinator magnet, beauty.

How to Plant: Direct sow in the garden in spring once temperatures have reached 70 ℉. You can also start them inside 6 weeks prior to your last frost date. Purchased seedlings do well when transplanted after frost danger has passed.


Close-up of a growing dill and a blooming rose bush in a garden. Dill has upright stems with umbrella-shaped heads that produce tiny yellow-green flowers. Rose flowers are large, double, pale pink in color with darker pink central petals.
The Dill is a great companion in the vegetable garden and for your roses as it attracts beneficial predators.
common-name common name Dill
botanical-name botanical name Anethum graveolens
plant-type plant type Annual
bloom-colors bloom colors Yellow
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Dill is usually grown in the vegetable garden, but it’s a good neighbor for your roses, too! Dill attracts predators like braconid wasps, lacewings, hoverflies, and ladybugs, which in turn will feed on your pests. It is rumored to repel spider mites and serves as a trap plant for aphids.

Dill has attractive feathery foliage and bright yellow umbel flowers. Most of us think of it as a culinary herb, but it’s a beautiful garden accent and bouquet filler, as well. The airy blooms and foliage provide interest when paired with more formal garden plants.

Interplant this garden gem with your roses and enjoy all of its benefits. Dill is also a host plant for the Swallowtail butterfly, so let caterpillars munching the plant stay. They’ll soon make your garden an even more beautiful place!

Benefits: Host plant, beneficial attractant, trap plant, beauty.

How to Plant: Direct seed in spring once frost has passed, as this member of the carrot family doesn’t transplant well.  Seeds germinate fairly quickly and produce long, leggy plants. Let them go to seed at the end of the season and harvest for next year!


Close-up of a garlic flower inflorescence on a blurred green background. The inflorescence has small white 6-petalled flowers with prominent stamens.
Garlic repels aphids, snails, and rodents.
common-name common name Garlic
botanical-name botanical name Allium sativum
plant-type plant type Annual Bulb
bloom-colors bloom colors White, Pink
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Although an uncommon choice in ornamental gardens, the power of garlic is well-known in the horticultural world. Garlic is another allium whose intense sulfur smell repels aphids, slugs, ants, and rodents.

Garlic contains an antifungal compound called allicin, which has been proven to work as a “green” fungicide in the garden. In fact, studies revealed that planting garlic near crops prone to fungal disease was more effective than the use of synthetic fungicides. Plant it near roses prone to powdery mildew and black spot this season for healthier plants.

Strangely, garlic is even thought to make roses smell more fragrant! The Herb Society of America encourages the use of intercropping with garlic for better-smelling roses. Try this unusual combo and see what you think!

Benefits: Pest repellent, natural antifungal, fragrance enhancer.

How to Plant: Separate the individual cloves from a garlic bulb and plant them pointy end up in holes about 3 inches deep. Garlic is actually a perennial that will gently spread in zones 4-9, but if you prefer to harvest it, you should plant in fall, and dig up in spring.


Close-up of a profusely flowering New England Aster plant and a pink rose in a sunny garden. Asters has many small disc-shaped flowers with round yellow centers surrounded by clusters of narrow purple rayed petals. The rose has a large semi-double flower with round pink petals and golden stamens.
Aster is a profusely flowering bushy plant producing small purple disc-shaped flowers with round, yellow centers.
common-name common name Aster
botanical-name botanical name Aster
plant-type plant type Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Purple
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Asters are valued for their beautiful fall color. They also provide a much-needed nectar source for pollinators stocking up before winter. There are many gorgeous cultivars, but native species provide the most benefits to the garden.

Blooming well into October and even November as most of the garden starts to fade, Asters provide a welcome burst of color and make great companion plants.

Two varieties stand out: New England Aster, a vivid purple with yellow centers, and Aromatic Aster, a pale violet to sky blue variety. Both bring in lots of beneficial insects and look beautiful with roses.

Asters grow into appealing mounded plants that will spread quickly. Thin them out as needed to maintain health and shape. Clumps sometimes have the tendency to get top-heavy and splay, so don’t be afraid to give them a good chop in early spring to encourage bushier growth.

Benefits: Beneficial Attractant, Beauty.

How to Plant: Asters are easy to grow from seed. They need cold stratification, so sprinkle them into garden beds in the fall for spring bloom.

Pink Muhly Grass

Close-up of blooming Pink Muhly Grass in the garden. The plant is a perennial herb that forms clumps of dark green thin leaves covered with tiny pink flowers that create a haze of pink clouds above the foliage.
Pink Muhly Grass is a late-season perennial herb that creates a haze of pink clouds over dark foliage.
common-name common name Pink Muhly Grass
botanical-name botanical name Muhlenbergia capillaris
plant-type plant type Perennial
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Native to the Central and Eastern US, Pink Muhly Grass is a breathtaking beneficial with stunning texture. This ornamental grass looks magical planted en masse or lining a long border. A late-season bloomer, plant with your roses for a gorgeous fall show.

Pink Muhly Grass’s delicate plumes look like a haze of pink clouds above the tall dark green foliage. The pink flowers are followed by airy tan seedheads that add winter interest and provide food for wildlife.

They grow in nice clumps about 3-4 feet tall, so they look best when planted behind ground cover roses or in front of taller varieties.

Pink Muhly is deer-resistant, free of pests and disease, and tolerates drought once established. Plant this easy-care perennial with pink or cream roses for a dreamy, soothing palette.

Benefits: Beauty, Wildlife.

How to Plant: Pink Muhly Grass can be started indoors from seed or direct sown after frost. It prefers full sun. Prune out any dead or brown stems in early spring.

Final Thoughts

Companion planting is a powerful way to increase the beauty of your garden, fight pests and diseases, while supporting wildlife. Commonly applied in the vegetable garden, it’s time we employ it to benefit ornamentals as well. Pick companions that best complement the color and growth habit of your roses, and watch the effects unfold.

You might find that good plant neighbors make maintaining your rose garden a bit less tedious this year. As a perk, you’ll know that you’ve done your part to help threatened bees and butterflies thrive. Enjoy your roses!

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