Roses and lavender: Are they really a dream couple in the flower bed?

Are roses and lavender good neighbors in the bed?
Are roses and lavender good neighbors in the bed?

Roses and lavender are a popular plant combination in our gardens. But did you know that it is actually better not to plant the two plants together?

Hardly any plant is so often combined with roses as lavender, and that, although the two actually do not go together at all. The scent of lavender would keep lice away, it is said, but this expectation usually ends in disappointment. Once the roses are infested, the little black animals cannot be driven away by lavender. If you plant roses and lavender together, you often find that the lavender withers after a few years, or the rose does not develop as desired.

Misconceptions about lavender as a companion to roses circulate many. It is the plants that suffer, but also amateur gardeners who go through the tedious work and hope for a beautiful border. Here is why these two plants are not made for each other, and what alternatives are available.

Why roses and lavender do not go together?

Firstly, they have different requirements for the location: lavender prefers rather lean, dry and calcareous soil. Roses feel comfortable in nutrient-rich, loose soil in an airy location. Care also differs: unlike roses, lavender hardly needs fertilizing or watering. Therefore, place the plants in the bed with a distance of at least two meters (6 ft).

Roses and lavender have different requirements for the location

First of all, roses and lavender do not go together, because they have contrary requirements for the site. The true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) feels at home on barren, dry and lime-rich ground. The semi-shrub is native to the Mediterranean region and grows there in sunny locations. In our native gardens, the hardy lavender ‘Hidcote Blue’ is usually planted.

Roses, on the other hand, come from distant lands such as Asia, Persia and Africa. For soil, they prefer nutrient-rich and loose soil. In a location in the sun or partial shade, they do grow best. Another factor that differentiates the requirements of roses and lavender is the lime content in the soil. Lavender tends to love soil rich in lime, whereas roses avoid lime in too high concentrations.

Roses and lavender have different care requirements

Roses and lavender also do not come to a common point when it comes to their care. Lavender should not be fertilized or watered as often as roses should. The result is that the Mediterranean semi-shrub initially grows quickly and well, but dies after three years. So if you fertilize your lavender too much, you are harming it.

Another aspect that is often ignored: Roses like to stand in airy places. If they are too crowded by other plants, they cannot develop their full potential and grow in height and width. In addition, the roses get sicker faster this way, so they are more susceptible to powdery mildew or rose rust.

How to combine roses and lavender anyway?

You do not have to completely abandon the visually beautiful combination of lavender and roses, even though the two have different requirements for location and care. To do this, place the two plants in the bed at a distance of at least two meters (6 to 7 ft). Always water the lavender separately and only when necessary, so that it does not die from too much watering. Fertilizing the lavender should be avoided. Add some sand to the planting hole of the semi-shrub, so that the watering water in its root area can drain better.

If you have trouble remembering the different requirements, it is better to plant the plants in two separate beds. To do this, create a bed with sandy soil, which will be in the sun all day. In this Mediterranean bed also peonies, sage or rosemary feel comfortable. If you do not want to miss the purple color next to the roses, anise hyssop (Agastache), hyssop (Hyssopus), bellflowers (Campanula), catmint (Nepeta) or cranesbill (Geranium), for example, are best suited.

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