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Journal of a rose gardener 20/08/16

‘Companion’ plants to roses can introduce complementary or contrasting texture, form and colour to a border, extend the flowering season, and even act as a form of pest control. However, when selecting companion plants it is important to remember that roses are greedy, and do not like to complete for sunlight, water or nutrients. This said, companion plants should have the same growing requirements. Most roses do best in full sun and well-drained soil.

Plants which introduce too much shade, or ‘crowd’ the rose, should be avoided. For this reason clump forming perennials are popular companion plants.

Geraniums are reported to repel insects. The variety Geranium Himalayense ‘Plenum’, currently in stock at £6.00, has double flowers of soft violet with a pink tinge. Plant in full sun and well drained soil and it will flower from April to July. It has a spread of 25cm x 3 cm.

Catmint (Nepeta) has small, grey/green, aromatic leaves with spikes of purple flowers. Plant in full sun in well-drained soil and it will flower from early summer through to autumn. The variety ‘Six Hills Giant’, currently in stock at £6.00, has a spread of 80cm x 60cm, which makes it ideal for planting with shrub roses, floribundas and hybrid teas. It is said that the scent of the Nepeta will repel aphids.

Dianthus ‘Starburst’, currently in stock at £3.99, forming part of the 3 for £10 offer, has red and white striped flowers with a strong fragrance, which provide an attractive foil for red and white roses. It has a spread of15cm x 25cm.

Companion plants should be planted far enough away from the rose to avoid disturbing the roots, and to maintain a good air circulation. Poor air circulation can create an ideal environment for disease. Finally, remember when filling the gaps in your border to allow access for maintenance. 

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