There’s a secret formula for choosing beautiful companion plants for roses. Your garden should have a combination of thrillers, fillers, and spillers.
Thrillers are tall, eye-catching plants. They are the garden’s focal point. Fillers are mid-size plants that fill in visual gaps. Spillers are low or trailing plants that provide ground cover.
Choosing at least one plant from each category will create an aesthetically pleasing rose garden. Good companion plants for roses also thrive in similar conditions and ward off common garden pests.
Read on for our favorite thrillers, fillers, and spillers in the rose garden.
Rose bushes are usually thrillers in the garden. However, in a large flower bed, you can choose additional thriller plants. Choosing thrillers that bloom earlier or later than your roses will ensure year-round interest in your garden.
Like roses, peonies are known for their full, fragrant blossoms. However, peony bushes flower for a short time in the early spring. Once their blossoms are spent, peony bushes provide deep green background foliage in the garden. For most of the summer, your peonies will function as fillers, allowing your roses to take the spotlight.
Add a Shirley Temple peony from Nature Hills Nursery to your rose garden!
Blooming in late summer, these thrillers put on a show of deep-colored, perfectly round flowers. For the rest of the growing season, alliums are visually interesting for their long, grasslike leaves.
Alliums are practical companion plants for roses, too. Since they are technically part of the onion family, the scent of alliums will deter pests. Allium nectar also attracts predatory insects, like wasps, who will do their part to keep beetles and aphids at bay.
Choose from the stunning allium varieties available at Park Seed!
Foxgloves are popular companion plants for roses because of their unique shape. These biennials send up tall spikes of small, finger-like blooms. At their peak, foxgloves can be two to four feet tall!
Foxgloves are available in a range of rose-like hues. Choose from Park Seed’s variety of colorful foxglove seeds!
Like foxgloves, these tall, showy plants bloom early in the season. Consider planting snapdragons towards the back of your rose garden. Their height will add interest and color before the rest of the garden is in bloom.
Find out more about planting snapdragons in our guide, How to Plant Snapdragons. We cover everything from starting seeds to caring for snapdragons throughout the season.
Choose snapdragon seeds from Hoss Tools for your garden!
5. Day Lily
Try these trusty perennials for a dependable, low-maintenance companion plant for your rose bushes. Once planted, Day Lilies will reappear year after year.
Choose similar shades to your rose blooms for simplicity or experiment with contrasting colors! Once Day Lily flowers fade, you’ll have several more weeks to enjoy their long, leafy foliage.
Add Day Lily bulbs from Nature Hills Nursery to your garden!
These are great companion plants for roses because they cover the less-attractive spiky canes of your rose bushes. Fillers are mid-size plants that add beauty to your garden without stealing the show. Plus, filler plants are large enough to help attract pollinators and effectively deter pests.
Lavender is a popular companion plant for roses because of its pleasant scent. Rounding out at around two or three feet tall, lavender makes a lovely filler between rose bushes. The light purple buds will attract pollinators to your rose garden. Expect to see bumblebees on mature lavender bushes throughout the spring and summer.
Shop the lavender seed collection available at Park Seed for varieties to add to your garden!
Every rose gardener knows the pain of keeping detrimental insects at bay. Geraniums are excellent companion plants for roses because they naturally repel aphids and beetles. Besides, the small, colorful flowers will accent your prized rose blooms without taking center stage.
Choose from a variety of geraniums available at Park Seed!
Marigolds are fantastic companion plants for roses in more ways than one! Marigolds have a scent that masks the aromas of surrounding plants, protecting tender ornamentals like roses from hungry insects.
At the same time, marigolds do their part to attract pollinators. Their short, puffy blooms are available in a range of colors that entice bees and butterflies to the garden. Read more on How to Plant Marigold on our website. These useful flowers are easy to grow and maintain!
Get started with colorful Sparky Mix marigold seeds from Hoss Tools!
9. Baby’s Breath
Rose bouquets from a florist often include stems of Baby’s Breath. Add the same companion plant for roses directly in your garden! The tiny white buds create an understated lacy background in your flower bed. Plant them directly in front of rose bushes to cover sparse and thorny canes.
Find Baby’s Breath seeds at True Leaf Market!
Rose bushes are perennial plants, so with good care, they should bloom in your garden year after year. However, you can still change up your companion plantings for a new look each season! Cosmos are an easy-to-grow annual.
Available in a variety of colors, you can vary your garden’s color scheme by planting different cosmos from year to year. Our guide, How to Plant Cosmos, will tell you all you need to know.
Hoss Tools has cosmo flower seeds in two stunning color schemes!
These companion plants for roses help cover the base of the bushes. They can also act as mulch, retaining moisture in the soil. In a large garden, spillers can function as a border plant around the edge of your flower bed.
11. Lamb’s Ear
Native to the Mediterranean, Lamb’s Ear can tolerate drought, full sun, and rocky soil. Lamb’s Ear is a great choice as a border for your rose garden or even as an underplanting.
It’s a beautiful companion plant for roses due to its contrast. Lamb’s Ears have fuzzy, silvery green leaves which complement the rose bush’s sharp, spiky form.
Add Lamb’s Ears from Nature Hills Nursery to your garden!
Look for wave petunias if you want the ground around your rose bushes covered in beautiful blooms. These fast-growing annuals will carpet the base of your rose bushes in weeks! Make sure you have plenty of room for these beauties to expand.
You can find Wave petunias at Park Seed to add color to your rose garden!
This sweet-smelling ground cover has tiny flowers that attract bees and other pollinators. Expect these companion plants for roses to spread quickly. With tiny clusters of flowers in many different colors, Verbena is attractive to a variety of pollinators.
Verbena’s sweet scent and trailing habit also make it a favorite of cottage gardens. This flowering, vine-like plant looks especially pretty spilling over a rocky garden border.
Grow verbena for your garden with seeds from Park Seed!
Need a low-maintenance, low-profile plant to round out your rose garden? Consider using sedum as a companion plant for roses. Sedum will bloom throughout the growing season, creating a colorful carpet underneath your rose bushes.
Sedum will thrive in the same full-sun conditions that roses love. However, sedum will tolerate some shade, too, which makes it a great choice for underplanting.
Choose from a variety of sedum at Park Seed!
These are a fun underplanting for rose bushes. In a raised bed or container garden, the strawberries will trail down and soften the edges of your container. Have a giant flower bed to fill? Strawberry runners will quickly take root and create new plants.
Add a tasty underplanting of Chandler strawberries to your garden from Hoss Tools!
Choosing the Best Companion Plants for Roses
The right companion plants will help your roses thrive and create visual interest throughout the growing season. Pick just one ‘filler’ and one ‘spiller” to compliment a rose bush in a small container garden.
Choose several thrillers, fillers and spillers to add a variety of health benefits and colorful blooms in a large flower bed. With so many options, you’re sure to find the best combination of companion plants for your rose garden.
For more on roses, check out the Roses page for all our rose blog posts.