Annuals That Grow Great with Roses

Discover easy-growing annuals that play well with roses.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

‘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.

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