Garlic, Onions, and Tomatoes as Companion Plants for Old Roses

ThomasLearningAugust 6, 2013

I am using Whole Foods grocery-store-bought garlic cloves, and small green onions as companion plants for my roses.

They work well at preventing pests and diseases but they tend to grow about 12 inches tall and become lanky looking. This is not a good look for an old rose garden.

Are they any trouble free garlic and onions that are more attractive and also good at pest and disease control? I have heard of Society Garlic but I have read that it can put off a strong offensive odor.

Also, are there any tomato plants that will remain small /medium size and bushy so that I can use tomato plants as companion plants for old roses?

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sunnync

I have society garlic planted in with my roses and do not find the fragrance offensive. It has lovely lavender blooms all summer and does not reseed. The all green variety is very vigorous and clumps will have to be divided every few years. The variety with the green and white leaves is not very vigorous and stays fairly small but still has lot of lavender blooms. The variegated one is about 10' to 12" high; the all green is about 18" tall.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 10:41AM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

I have a few regular garlic/onions that are left over from last year in our winter garden that are now living with the corner roses They smell too when brushed.

I also have a ton of society garlic planted around that same area because the gophers think it stinks as well. I notice the scent of the society garlic, but the roses overwhelm the bad scent and I really forget they are there unless I rub them.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 12:23PM
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jacqueline9CA

Thomas - I can't remember what geographical area/zone you are in - that will make a huge difference in getting good advice, so you might want to include that info in your posts.

In my area, which is a "Mediterranean" climate similar to Southern France, parts of Australia, & South Africa (cool very wet Winters, warm very dry Summers), there is one form of wild onion which has become a very bad pest. It grows wild all over our neighborhoods, in vacant lots, and alongside roads with no care whatever. It spreads madly, and although it is edible (looks like chives), it has a smell that many people find objectionable.

Tomatoes, of course, are another matter. Most of them need support, I think. Here is a pic of my "hugger mugger" style garden with tomatoes (these are Early Girl) growing in a cage (2 layers of cage - one for the tomatoes, and an exterior one to protect them from the deer) growing alongside of the roses.

Jackie

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 1:22PM
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rosefolly

On the other hand, I find the scent of society garlic to be unendurably offensive. It is widely planted here because nothing bothers it and it is drought tolerant. However I find myself holding my breath while passing as quickly as I can. True garlic does not exude any scent unless brushed, and even then is not as unpleasant as society garlic. Society garlic casts its odor far and wide. It may not bother everyone, but I personally make it a point to avoid any garden where it is planted. I'm having trouble thinking of a plant I dislike more. Poison oak would fit the bill.

Some years back I experimented with using garlic chives in the rose garden. I changed my mind because it spread enthusiastically and started choking out plants I preferred. It has been ten years now since I removed it, and I am still pulling out plants each year. Be careful with this one. No offensive smell, but it is very tenacious.

I would not plant tomatoes with roses. I've tried it, both on purpose and accidentally when seeded in the garden, probably by a passing bird. Tomatoes are far too robust to play nicely with roses and later in the season start shading them. Then when you pull them out in the fall you are left with a big empty space. Pumpkins and squashes are even more this way. Yes, I gave that a try a few years ago also. The squashes did quite well. The ornamental plants suffered greatly. Like you, I experimented with the whole edible landscaping concept, mixing food plants with ornamentals in the same beds. It simply did not work well for me and I have pretty much abandoned it.

What does work reasonably well is to intermingle roses with some of the herbs. It's very traditional, too, since roses used to be planted in physic (medicinal) gardens. You could try parsley, sage, and thymes. (I almost feel as though I'm singing the old song). Lavender, too. All are pretty and do not spread other than some casual reseeding, easily controlled. Avoid mints and most artemesias, as they will travel underground aggressively. Be aware that roses prefer more water than some of these herbs do, so the herbs are likely to be short lived if the roses are getting enough water. If you are using drip irrigation you could work it so that the rose gets more water.

Anyway, have fun!

Rosefolly

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 2:15PM
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rosefolly

On the other hand, I find the scent of society garlic to be unendurably offensive. It is widely planted here because nothing bothers it and it is drought tolerant. However I find myself holding my breath while passing as quickly as I can. True garlic does not exude any scent unless brushed, and even then is not as unpleasant as society garlic. Society garlic casts its odor far and wide. It may not bother everyone, but I personally make it a point to avoid any garden where it is planted. I'm having trouble thinking of a plant I dislike more. Poison oak would fit the bill.

Some years back I experimented with using garlic chives in the rose garden. I changed my mind because it spread enthusiastically and started choking out plants I preferred. It has been ten years now since I removed it, and I am still pulling out plants each year. Be careful with this one. No offensive smell, but it is very tenacious.

I would not plant tomatoes with roses. I've tried it, both on purpose and accidentally when seeded in the garden, probably by a passing bird. Tomatoes are far too robust to play nicely with roses and later in the season start shading them. Then when you pull them out in the fall you are left with a big empty space. Pumpkins and squashes are even more this way. Yes, I gave that a try a few years ago also. The squashes did quite well. The ornamental plants suffered greatly. Like you, I experimented with the whole edible landscaping concept, mixing food plants with ornamentals in the same beds. It simply did not work well for me and I have pretty much abandoned it.

What does work reasonably well is to intermingle roses with some of the herbs. It's very traditional, too, since roses used to be planted in physic (medicinal) gardens. You could try parsley, sage, and thymes. (I almost feel as though I'm singing the old song). Lavender, too. All are pretty and do not spread other than some casual reseeding, easily controlled. Avoid mints and most artemesias, as they will travel underground aggressively. Be aware that roses prefer more water than some of these herbs do, so the herbs are likely to be short lived if the roses are getting enough water. If you are using drip irrigation you could work it so that the rose gets more water.

Anyway, have fun!

Rosefolly

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 2:16PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

The variegated Society Garlic seems to have far less odor than the regular green type.

Determinate tomatoes tend to be much shorter and bushier than Indeterminant types. Determinants are the ones in which the crop ripens all at once and then the plant is done and it dies. Indeterminants keep growing and growing and producing (or trying to, anyway) until frost.

If there was a type of plant that actually prevented rose diseases and pests from harming roses, everyone would grow them.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 4:31PM
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ThomasLearning

Jackie, I love the photo. Thanks everyone for your comments. Please keep them coming. P.S. I had small garlic plant planted in the same pot as a rose plant. Although the rose was healthy, I eventually took the garlic plant out because it was growing roots faster than the rose plant and was undoubtedly getting most of the water and nutrients. My zone is Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 9:44PM
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Campanula UK Z8

um yes, edible landscape - I sort of do this. It can work....with caveats. First of all, if neatness is important to you, this idea is not going to fly. Veggies and fruits with roses and perennials is entirely doable...but it does not present a pretty picture....or it does, but fleetingly. I grow a lot of produce on my allotment and the roses are mashed about at the ends of beds, making use of various veggie supports (the whole allotment is a network of tatty timber structures, various bits of netting and fleece, lots of posts and wires and, although it is productive, it is neither restful nor peaceful. There are times when I congratulate myself and other times when I seriously wonder if I am insane. I should say that I am not very scientific and do not follow any companion planting theories (tried spring onions with carrots to deter carrot fly....but it didn't).....and I find that fruit trees and bushes and other perennial veggies such as asparagas, nine-star broccoli, artichokes and nuts are easier than fast turnover annual veggies, especially if you are maintaining a 4 year rotation - although I miss out most brassicas and do a 3 year cycle.....also, because of white rot on the site, bulbing onions are no good although leeks are OK.

It is not a potager either......I find those to be faintly ridiculous ever since a friend doing one refused to actually eat the lettuces or spinach because it 'spoiled the design'.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 4:07PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Like Kim, I find the smell of Society Garlic unenduringly offensive. AAMOF, it makes my sinuses close up, and my eyes squinty and weepy. (S. clevelandia, a native Salvia I rather love does the same thing to me.)

Years ago, some members of our local rose society yanked all of the society garlic out of their garden. For some reason, they donated it to the Heritage Rose Garden at the Stagecoach Inn Museum. (Newbury Park, CA)

And for some reason, the garden chairpersons planted it. ALL of it. I quit going there. Within a year, all of the dreadful stuff had disappeared, thanks to some of the volunteers, who "weeded" it out of existence. Thank God.

Jeri

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 12:26PM
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lori_elf z6b MD

I have grown various types of garlic and onion with roses (and other herbs as well), and still grow some ornamental alliums, but have never noticed a beneficial affect on pests and disease. I have long been a no-spray grower and hoped endlessly to find some natural means to reduce blackspot, repel Japanese beetles, etc. It seems by my observations and uncontrolled study that the variety of rose and its inherent disease resistance is what most matters, and companion planting should be done for visual taste with little positive effect.

I also think that indeterminate tomatoes look very messy and aren't visually appealing with roses. I have one growing into a climbing rose right now about 7' high because it toppled over its wire cage and is still growing.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 4:04PM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

In defense of companion planting I think the real value is not in warding off pests or disease, but rather it is attracting beneficial predatory insects to help control pest populations. I try to create a little ecosystem in my gardens, providing the types of plants they like to lay their eggs on as well as pollen and nectar to eat. Aster and carrot family members are very good for this, though not necessarily good for planting right next to your roses.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 4:14PM
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