Roses—Not Just For Rose Gardens

Mixed Foxglove
Sorbet Peony
Blue Fragrant Lavender

Some people shy away from planting roses because they may be under the misconception that roses are only for rose gardens. And if you don’t have room in your space for a rose garden, then roses most likely won’t make it onto your must-have list. And aren’t roses finicky and difficult to care for? This beloved flower sure has gotten a bad rep through the years. Fortunately, today’s roses are very different from our grandma’s roses—healthy, robust bushes that love to play with other plants. They even come in all sorts of vibrant colors, like the beautiful orange freedom rose, so they can fit into any arrangement..

Let’s start by mentally recategorizing roses. Roses are typically put into their own mysterious category, which can be intimidating and make them appear unfriendly and aloof. Instead, let’s just put roses in the category of long-season, sun-loving perennial shrubs (which, by the way, they are). And there are plenty of other sun-loving perennials that enjoy sharing a garden space with roses.

As America’s favorite flower, let’s face it—roses shine as the star of the show. You can check out our Floribunda rose collection for a bold and colorful variety of flowers. But let’s look at how a supporting cast of plants can make your roses even more beautiful. To keep it simple, let’s consider rose companion plants in three categories: tall spiky plants, medium complementary plants, and shorter filler plants.

Tall, spiky plants are great for providing a backdrop of color behind your rose plants. Some excellent specimens are foxgloves, hollyhocks, and tall phlox. By planting background plants with varied bloom times, you will ensure that you always have complementary colors for your roses.

Medium-sized plants with rounded habits can intermingle beautifully with roses by mimicking the size and shape of rose bushes. Daylilies, peonies, coneflowers, weigelas, and irises are wonderful plants to use for this purpose.

And lastly, shorter filler plants are ideal for planting in front of roses. Let’s face it, the base of a rose is not exactly the prettiest part of the plant. So don’t be afraid to dress it up by planting lavender, coreopsis, or even mums in front of it. You can even think about using any type of groundcover, such as sweet alyssum, candytuft, or creeping thyme.

As you’re selecting your rose companion plants, it’s a good idea to also take into consideration off-season and prebloom interest, bloom season contrast, complementary or contrasting foliage, and flower color. In addition to perennials, pansies and bulbs are naturals for spring bloom that will overlap with the grand entrance of your roses. In the fall, you can use a few chrysanthemums and asters to ease the transition into winter.