Don Davis: The benefits of companion planting | Home & Garden

A new rose garden at Canada’s Royal Botanical Garden has “3,000 roses and 18,000 perennials chosen as insect attracting companions,” according to its designer Peter Kukielski. The author of the recently published book, “Rosa: The Story of the Rose,” was featured last February in The New York Times, where he advised gardeners to select regionally adapted rose varieties, use mulch and leaves instead of fertilizer and embrace companion planting.

Highly recommended are members of the carrot family with their tiny flowers clustered in uplifted umbels. One of the best is dill, which attracts many predators and parasites of insects while also self- sowing year after year and it tastes good on potato salad.

Other members of this family are parsley, anise, angelica, chervil, caraway, cilantro (coriander), cumin and fennel. Another good one is Queen Anne’s lace or wild carrot.

More top choices for planting with your roses are the daisy-like flowers of the composite family of plants. These include cosmos, purple coneflower (Echinacea), gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia), sneeze weed (Helenium) and fall blooming chrysanthemum and aster.

Many other native plants are magnets for insects. They range from butterfly weed and penstemon to phlox and golden rod.

Native grasses also provide valuable habitat for insects. The best ones are Indian grass, switch grass, little blue stem and big blue stem.

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