Growing with Roses

Growing Clematis with Roses

Clematis and Roses are a popular companionship whether you have a classic cottage garden, a formal garden or a modern garden, they are natural companions that lend themselves well to growing together.
Let us explore some of the reasons these two wonderful genus of plant have become so popular to grow together.

Firstly I think one of the reasons they grow well together, is that they like largely the same type of soil. A nice loamy soil with reasonable nutrient levels and good drainage are important for both clematis and roses and while clematis are often considered to like their water, they do not want to sit too damp, so good drainage is important for them. The feeding requirements are very similar, they both need a reasonable amount of potash in their feed with some additional magnesium to encourage nutrient uptake and not too much nitrogen, which can force them into creating lots of green growth, but can inhibit their flowering ability if too much is used.  Including some bonemeal or mycorrhizal fungi in the planting hole will help improve the root systems ability to take up nutrient and it beneficial to both genus of plant.  So straight away we can see that they have similar likes when it comes to care and husbandry.

The next reason they do so well together is because of their complimenting growth habits.  You can use a rose to create a wonderful structural coverage over an arch or arbour and the strong woody stems of the rose are ideally suited to supporting a clematis that will clamber happily through the rose looking for the light. You can also select clematis to provide a nice continuation of flower once the rose has finished blooming, therefore extending the flowering interest in that area of the garden, or you can choose to have them flower at the same time if you are looking to create a really eye catching display.
Grow clematis with your shrub roses and have a lovely display of flower from a scrambling clematis to compliment your shrub rose. Choose a clematis that is hard prune for an easy life, as these can be cut each spring to just 12-18 inches from the ground and allowed to grow up through your rose again, making a slightly different display each year.

Lastly I think that the shape of a clematis flower can vary hugely as well as the colour and therefore a complimenting shape of flower and colour can be found for almost any taste the gardener might have. You might like a large flowered clematis to go with your rambler to make an eye catching statement on a long arbour or large wall. All the more noticeable from a distance.  You might need a small flowered clematis to subtly compliment a smaller climbing rose up the side of an arch or a even a herbaceous clematis to grow along side a small procumbent rose in a boarder. So as you can see, there will be a suitable clematis to grow with almost any rose.


Now let us make a few suggestions of clematis and rose combinations.

Clematis with Climbing or Rambler Roses

If you wish to add extra colour in the spring, take a look at the atragene group, these have their main flowering period from mid to late spring and leave very nice seedheads for later interest. All are suitable to grow with roses. Avoid planting the very vigorous spring flowering montanas with roses - the only exceptions being montana 'Freda' who is much more ladylike in her growth and habit as is montana 'van Gogh'.

Many clematis have two flowering periods, usually late spring to early summer, then late summer to early / mid autumn. Any of these would be suitable to grow with roses. You will find these online here.

Clematis that bloom later in the year i.e. mid summer to autumn are useful to grow with roses as this can extend the flowering period to later in the year. You will find many clematis whose flowering period begins in June or July and goes on until September or October. Good examples can be found in the Mid-Summer to Autumn Group and Viticella Group. 
Beware of planting tangutica 'Lambton Park''Bill MacKenzie'rehderiana and terniflora with roses unless the rose is very vigorous and already well-established.

Clematis with Bush or Shrub Roses

Try under-planting with any of the non-clinging (non-climbing) types of clematis. 'Alionushka' is lovely with white or cream roses such as 'Swany', or perhaps try durandii with roses in shades of yellow.

Please refer to the Diversifolia group for further suggestions.

Colour Combinations

White Roses - almost any colour and shade of clematis would be suitable. If you want a combination of pastel colours try a pale blue clematis such as Blue Angel, 'Prince Charles' or 'Perle d'Azur', or a pink clematis, maybe 'Hagley Hybrid''Comtesse de Bouchaud' or 'Pink Fantasy'. For a more striking contrast try a red clematis perhaps 'Rouge Cardinal''Rüütel' or 'Westerplatte'.

Pink Roses - unless you are very brave simply avoid pink clematis - try any of the blues such as 'Elsa Späth''General Sikorski' or 'The First Lady', or a purple, perhaps 'Jackmanii''Romantika' or 'The President'.

Yellow Roses - again, the blue and purple clematis would be really good, try 'H.F.Young' or 'Lasurstern' and 'Romantika' or 'Etoile Violette'.

Peach / Apricot / Cream Roses - any of the blue, purple or red clematis would make excellent companions. For example, the apricot-yellow rose 'Lady Hillingdon' looks superb with the red 'Södertälje'.

Red, Deep Pink and Purple Roses - try pale / light blue, mauve or white clematis. A favourite combination in our garden is the dark red rose 'Etoile de Hollande' with the white clematis 'Snow Queen'.