How far away for companion plants?

jaske78August 26, 2012


I am sort of a novice gardener. I mean, I've been growing things for a while, because I like it, but just recently decided to get more serious.

I have about 20 rose bushes in front of my house, plus 7 peonies. They live but don't really do much else, so I know that the soil must be amended, composted, and otherwise nutrified. No problem: if you know what the problem is you can solve it.

My question is about companion plants for the roses. Everybody has long and intensive discussions of what looks the best, but nowhere once has somebody mentioned plant spacing. So, if each rose (they are all hybrid teas) is 3 feet apart, how far apart do you plant a bulb like a lily? 1 foot from the core of the plant? 18 inches? What about a reseeding annual like sweet alyssum? 6 inches? A foot? And catmint? If you were doing a plan on graph paper, where each box represented, say, a foot or six inches, would all things be on the edge of said box? Would you chuck in a nitrogen-fixer (borage? clover?) closer to the plant? Keep it away because they tend to get a little out of control simply because they are nitrogen fixers?

I have the same problem with the peonies, who will wither and die in a very unappealing way every year. In a couple of places, that's not really a problem, but in a few spots the holes are yearly headaches.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated. I am trying to make the next big step towards making my garden look and feel like a place that looks and feels harmonious and well-planned.



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I would look at the root shape. Roses kind of form a heart. Bulbs go pretty much straight down. So you'd want to put the bulbs in a space between the space the roses need. A ground cover like alyssum keeps its roots near the surface, so they won't fight with the rose, and they can be planted closer. Search for "root system" and whatever plant you're thinking of, and you'll get images. Imagine how they'd share the underground volume, give each plant its part, and they'll be happy.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 10:04AM
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I second that. I think of the soil in layers and I try to group plants together that grow in each layer. It seems like an effcient use of space. I put down a layer of compost in the spring and fall, or sometimes just in the fall and my flowers do great.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 3:39PM
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