ROSE COMPANION PLANTS – SPRING BULBS

Do roses need companion plants? Absolutely. More and more gardeners are utilizing companion plants with roses. It is proven that monoculture of roses invites more harmful insects into a rose garden. The results is spraying more and more chemicals to drive the harmful insects away. On the other hand, we are killing the beneficial insects in the process.

Only die-hard exhibitors are having a garden exclusively planted with roses. Spraying insecticides seems the norm for them to have that perfect bloom. With the devastating effect on our environment and possibly our health, isn’t it about time we find an alternative to combat the harmful insects. Companion plantings have proven to be the answer.

One of the reasons why some gardeners are not inclined to growing roses is the perception that to grow roses, you have to spray. We have created that perception that roses need a lot of care by our constant use of pesticides. These same gardeners like other plants because it gives them diversity in the garden. But why are they not planting roses?

I like companion plants. I grow them with my roses. If you look at the picture of my previous garden, even the formal beds had companion plants. Spring bulbs heralded the start of the season.

NY Garden

Planting spring bulbs in the rose garden? Certainly. Other plants? Why not? If you have not done it, you should at least try. I love all kinds of plants and I want to have them all. Some of them I use as a compliment to my roses when I do arrangements.

My garden starts its blooming cycle in early spring when spring bulbs herald the arrival of spring. Daffodils and tulips of all kinds fight for attention. There are spaces between your roses that can accommodate these spring beauties without competing with your roses. By the time the roses come into bloom the spring flowers will be gone.

As you can see from the picture above which was my garden in New York, the center beds are formal parterres with only roses but in spring, you would see red and yellow tulips in between the roses. The side beds are informal English gardens planted with roses, perennials, shrubs and more spring bulbs. In early spring, the gardens were ablaze with spring flowers. They cannot hurt your rose garden. It will only enhance its beauty. Spring bulbs make your rose garden come alive even before the roses start leafing out.

NY Perennial Bed

To make a colorful display in spring, you have to plant in the fall. Catalogs are the best sources because they offer more selections than local nurseries. When you browse through the garden catalogs, look for fabulous colors of spring bulbs to add to your rose garden. To orchestrate the spring bulbs to bloom continuously before the roses take over, stagger the planting of the bulbs.

In NY, I must have thousands of spring bulbs planted over the years. Here in Charleston where I live in a townhouse, I started adding tulips a couple of years ago. A big box of spring bulbs arrived a few days ago and will be planted soon. Since winter  has been very cold lately, more tulips come up in spring. Pictured below is my front yard in Johns Island.

SC Garden

I like Red Impression tulips and Tahiti daffodils which have huge flowers, good for garden display and for cuttings. Squirrels love tulips but not daffodils and stash them away in the fall. To prevent squirrels from digging up your tulips, spread cayenne pepper over the tulip bulbs before you cover them with soil. Squirrels hate cayenne pepper and run for their lives when they smell it.

Tulip leaves wither faster than daffodils. The leaves start to turn yellow as the roses are leafing out so then I cut them all off. The daffodils stay in the perennial border where I have some shrub roses, Old Garden Roses and perennials and that way, they don’t look so bedraggled while they are drying out.

So be bold and experiment. Plant spring bulbs around your roses and you’ll double your gardening pleasure. Plant companion plants to reduce the use of pesticides and save the Earth.

Your rose garden will look magnificent even before the roses reign supreme.