15 Annuals That Grow Great with Roses

Discover easy-growing annuals that play well with roses.

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of SelectSeeds.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

Photo By: SelectSeeds.com

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of SelectSeeds.com

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: SelectSeeds.com

Photo By: SelectSeeds.com

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: SelectSeeds.com

Photo By: SelectSeeds.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of SelectSeeds.com

Spirit Merlot Spider Flower (Cleome hassleriana)

Whiskery blooms give spider flower a striking form. Blossoms open one-by-one along a large spike, creating a long flowering window. Plants reach 3 to 5 feet tall. Choose cleome for a backdrop for shorter roses or to weave appealing texture into rose plantings. Look for blooms in shades of white, rose, pink and violet.

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

These cheery blooms boast satiny petals in a rainbow of hues, including shades of orange, pink, yellow, white and salmon. Blossoms may be single or double and open on plants from spring until fall. Plants grow 8 to 12 inches tall—just the right height to disguise rose canes with a flounce of floral color. California poppy self-sows.

Larkspur ‘Blue Cloud’ (Consolida regalis)

Purple-blue flower spikes appear in spring and linger into early summer, forming a blue cloud in the garden. Larkspur provides a pretty screen for early spring roses, when canes are leafing out and plants haven’t started flowering. This annual self-sows freely as long as you permit plants to set seed. Look for pink and white varieties.

Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)

Choose sweet alyssum for a flowering ground cover around roses that blankets the ground with color from spring through fall, except in the hottest regions. Varieties offer a range of heights, from dwarf 4-inch-tall plants to old-fashioned types that reach 10 inches. Blossoms have a honey scent and attract many beneficial insects that feast on rose pests.

Bells of Ireland (Molucella laevis)

Eye-catching green bells form along 2-foot-tall, minty-scented stems on this annual. The charteuse-green color of this plant and its unusual blooms provide a perfect rose partner: complementary, but non-competing. Choose bells of Ireland for versatility—the color pairs well with any rose hue, even the striped bicolors.

Tall Verbena (Verbena bonariensis)

You will love the way tall verbena forms a lavender cloud in the garden, adding a delicate texture that beautifully complements the heavier leaf and flower forms of a rose. Plants reach 4 feet, so the lavender blooms will be at the perfect height to pair with pink, apricot, red or yellow roses.

Marigold Signet Tangerine Gem (Tagetes tenuifolia)

Warm orange blooms perch atop ferny foliage on this marigold. Plants grow 8 inches tall, a perfect size for surrounding the base of a rose with season-long color. Look for varieties with gold blooms. Flowers are a butterfly magnet and also edible.

Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea)

This sage serves up beautiful spiky blooms in purple, white or blends of both. It thrives in sultry heat but does need consistent moisture. Flowers beckon butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. Plants top out around 18 inches, an ideal size for skirting the base of rose canes with eye-catching color.

Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria)

The felted, silver-gray leaves of this foliage annual make pink and red roses sing. Plants reach 8 to 15 inches high, forming a silver cushion beneath hybrid tea or shrub roses. This plant tolerates light frosts and will continue to sound a note of color in cold-region gardens deep into fall.

Creeping Zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens)

Count on creeping zinnia to cover the ground beneath roses with a flowery carpet. Blooms resemble miniature black-eyed Susans and appear all season long. Gather these stems to add an airy element to rose bouquets. Plants reach 6 to 10 inches high and are a butterfly favorite.

'Blue’ Clary Sage (Salvia viridis)

Grow this striking salvia for its eye-catching papery blooms that look fantastic with white, pink or other light-toned roses. Plants reach 18 to 24 inches tall, the right height for complementing rose blooms. Deer dislike this beauty, so it’s a good choice for creating a deer-resistant buffer around roses.

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

This self-sowing herb weaves a delicate texture into plantings that contrasts beautifully with roses. Finely divided, bright green leaves have a ferny appearance, and flowers form flat umbels in shades of chartreuse and yellow. Many beneficial insects visit dill—insects that will gobble rose pests. Different varieties grow from 1 to 3 feet tall. Plants will self-sow, or harvest seed for culinary use.

‘Red Sea’ Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum)

This tall ageratum (24 to 30 inches) opens fuzzy flowers that float around and beside shrub, grandiflora and hybrid tea rose blooms. The color palette of 'Red Sea' sparkles with orange or yellow-toned roses. Look for shorter ageratum varieties to skirt the base of roses. This annual’s fuzzy flowers create a textural masterpiece when paired with roses.

Black-Eyed Susan Vine ‘Alba’ (Thunbergia alata)

This lower-growing vine usually only climbs 5 to 8 feet in a growing season. Use it to stage a backdrop for a rose. Give it a support of its own; don’t let stems twine around rose canes. Look for other varieties of this vine with flowers in shades of classic gold, orange or apricot—each with a dark throat.

Cornflower ‘Classic Fantastic’ (Centaurea cyanus)

Also known as bachelor’s buttons, cornflower is a self-sowing annual that flowers from spring into early summer. Plants grow to 24 inches tall, an ideal height for surrounding shrub roses or for cloaking the base of climbers. Look for blooms in shades of blue, white, rose, pink and even deep purple-black.