Companion planting is a great idea for anyone growing roses. Of course, roses can and do hold their own in our gardens with their delicate blooms, scents, and statures, but planting roses alongside different combinations of plants can be hugely beneficial. Companion planting your roses can aid pollination, prevent disease, keep pest numbers down, and – most importantly – look great! Today, I’m going to share the top five companion plants your roses will love.
Choose earlier flowering roses to get the timing just right with Alliums. Ornamental onions, these add pops of purple, white, and pink to your garden with their large, globular flower heads. These flowers, along with other members of the onion family, are said to ward off aphids, prevent black spot, and even enhance your rose’s fragrance.
Why not plant your Allium alongside the Rose City of London to get the most from its delicate, saccharine scent? This majestic floribunda’s shell-pink petals form mesmerising, swirling blooms. This rose is sure to add elegance to your garden when paired with Alliums.
A popular choice for cottage gardens with wild, informal planting, Foxgloves look right at home alongside all manner of flowers. They post tall spires of thimble-like flowers, rising from rosettes of soft, downy leaves. As companion plants, they’re great for roses from a visual perspective. Contrasting their bold, jewel-toned hues and ruffled texture against the paler tones and delicate petals of your chosen rose.
Foxgloves would make an excellent companion to Harkness’ Rose Pearl Abundance. This humble floribunda boasts glorious blooms of a creamy, pearl pink, through its delicate petals. The perfect addition to beds and borders, this rose produces blooms from early summer to the first frost. If you’re after a stronger contrast, however, take a look at Harkness’ Rose Red Romance. This rose proudly displays a classic red, instantly creating a spot of beauty and elegance in your garden. Particularly with the Foxgloves contrasting, yet contemporary, elegance and pastel tones beside it.
Salvias are another great companion plant for roses. They come in a range of colours, and their spire shapes give a contrasting structural interest when paired with roses. Even better, Salvias are pollinator magnets, drawing in bees and butterflies to pollinate your roses. They also help to keep black spot and mildew at bay.
Why not pair these with the gorgeous Harkness Rose Born Free? This rose is affectionately called the ‘Lion Rose’. Not just because it’s a homage to the late Virginia McKenna for her work with the Born Free Foundation, but because its amber and apricot petals evoke the glory of a lion’s mane. And although it carries a traditional scent, this rose has modern disease-resistant foliage, so the Salvias don’t need to work as hard!
Now, this one’s a traditional pairing. There’s no better fragrance than the mingling of ashy lavender and saccharine roses. Even when lavender isn’t in flower, it offers neat, evergreen mounds, with aromatic foliage. This is another great plant for attracting pollinators to your roses, too. Lavender is best paired with shrub or floribunda roses.
Although lavender compliments almost any shade of rose, consider pairing it with Harkness’s Rose ‘Blue Moon’. This is a traditional shrub rose with lilac-blue blooms that will draw out the deeper violets of your lavender, creating a moody, yet chic, tone in your garden. And if you’re after a more traditional floribunda, try Harkness’s Rose ‘Faithful’. Short, bushy, and reliable, this Rose boasts crimson petals, that melt into a ruby centre. Alongside lavender, this rose will make a real statement.
Clematis are known as the ‘Queen of Climbers’. With widespread blooms of perfectly formed flowers, ranging from bold shades of fuchsia to light, dusty lilacs, Clematis is great for wildlife. Training your clematis to climb walls, trellises, and fences not only looks fantastic but provides shelter for insects and even birds! Plus, the fluffy seed heads are often used as nesting material by house sparrows.
To really get your garden flourishing, integrate a gorgeous climbing rose, like Harkness’ Rose Sweet Syrie. This rose is beautiful, with ombre petals that graduate from a deep cerise, into a gentle coral colour. It comes as no surprise that this is an award-winning rose. In 2020, it scored the highest points at the international rose trials and won the Golden Prize of the City of Glasgow “The Lord Provosts Cup”. Alongside your clematis, you can transform your walls, trellises, and fences into wildlife-friendly works of art.
For more inspiration, take a look at Harkness’ brand-new roses, launched at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Add The Menopause Charity Rose, a gorgeous candy-pink floribunda, grown to raise awareness and support for those experiencing menopausal symptoms alongside your lavender. Incorporate the vibrant Dr. Susan Michaelis Rose beside your salvias, with its warm spicy perfume, and cerise petals to get your garden gorgeous, whilst supporting The Institute of Cancer Research.
To celebrate the works of Jane Austen, take a look at Rose Sense and Sensibility. This rose is a blush pink, creamy climber, which will add an air of Austenian sophistication to your garden, particularly when planted alongside your clematis. Or if you’re after a rather more ‘extroverted’ rose, discover Rose Rosemary Day. A homage to Rosemary Day, passionate plants women pledging for horticultural conservation, this rose will add a dramatic contrast aside your clematis!
And there you have it! A selection of brilliant companion plants for an array of Harkness roses. Whether you’re looking to attract pollinators or wildlife to your garden, protect your roses from disease, or simply embrace your garden’s full potential, planting any of these beauties beside your Harkness roses is the perfect solution.