Roses are the jewels of the summer garden with their gorgeous color and fragrance, and they look equally at home in a cottage or formal outdoor setting. And, considering how many varieties are out there and how many types are long-blooming, with newer hybrids flowering almost non-stop from late spring to a hard freeze, it’s easy to see why they’re the focal point of many gardens. But, what should you plant with them? Are there ideal rose companion plants? And what does that even mean, really?
When it comes to what you should plant with roses, there’s an ongoing debate. Some gardeners believe that by growing certain companion plants alongside them, you may be able to protect your roses from diseases and pests. For example, it’s often thought that strong-smelling plants—such as certain herbs—will repel insects or nibbling rodents such as bunnies. However, the idea of companion planting is based mainly on folklore and anecdotal advice rather than scientific studies, and there’s actually little evidence that shows certain plants help (or harm) other plants.
With that in mind, it’s worth noting that a thriving garden includes many different kinds of flowers and plants, especially those that attract beneficial pollinators and insects. So, while companion plants may not protect your roses specifically, they’re certainly not going to hurt your garden overall. Just remember that whatever you plant with roses should have similar needs: well-drained soil and full sun, which means at least 6 or more hours of direct sunlight.