Thursday, June 16, 2011

10 Shade Tolerant Roses

Standard rose lingo has most of us believing that to grow a rose you need 6 plus hours of sunlight.  We'll I'm here to tell you it just isn't so!  Many many roses will do totally fine with less than 6, and some frankly with less than 4 hours of sunlight.   One of the unusual benefits to growing these shade tolerant types is that they tend to also be disease resistant types as well.  This is a huge benefit because one of the disease proliferating agents to roses is too much shade, so its all for the good, and make sense that if the shade isn't stressing the plant, it won't contract the diseases.

Sharifa Asma
I actually grow quite a few roses at my house which out back gets ZERO direct sunlight from Nov-Feb.  March and Oct, the shoulder months, moves from 2-4 hours, and then the late spring, summer and early fall months I get varying amounts of sun (from 4 to 8) depending on month and garden position.   Living in the city, my garden deals with shadows from buildings, mature trees and fence lines.  Anything that wants to live here also has to contend with fierce root competition.   And yet, my roses really, for the most part, have no issues. And it is a total wives tale that roses need sun in the winter too.  They are DORMANT then. Yep, totally no activity, so no, they don't need sun.  Ask anyone who lives up north where the roses either die back to the ground, or they live close enough to the poles to be getting less than 4 hours of dim light a day, and they can tell you... roses grow just fine when the sun returns.

Here are some shady rose rules:

Rule number one, is pick the right roses, and they aren't hybrid teas.  Period.  Sorry.
Rule number two is that once blooming roses tend to need less sun as a whole than remontant (reblooming) or perpetual roses.  Having one of these in your garden is generally worth it, because the once a year show tends to be beyond spectacular.
Rule number three is hybrid musk roses, as a class, are more shade tolerant than others.
And Rule number four, they have knockout roses growing in the medians of the highway for a reason.

Okay without further ado, here is the list of roses I know you can grow successfully in under 6 hours of sun, because I do!  A * marks a rose I know can make it perfectly fine in even 3-4 hours of sun, as I have them growing in such conditions.
Ballerina - probably my favorite

1)Ballerina, Hybrid Musk* (seen blooming like mad in less than 3 hours of direct sun)
2)Any of the Knockout Roses, Modern* (seen blooming in almost no direct sunlight!)
3)Marie Pavie, Polyantha
4)Madame Alfred Carriere, Noisette (Climber)
5)Carefree Beauty, Modern* (mine lives directly beneath a large pecan tree, still covered in blooms)
Carefree Delight
6)Sharifa Asma, English Rose (this rose is new to me, but seems to be doing best SO FAR in part sun vs full sun.. the blooms and leaves do fry easily)
7)New Dawn (Climber) (this does fine in 4-6 hours, but definitely doesn't bloom to potential with less than that)
New Dawn
8)Carefree Delight, Modern
9)Eden Climber, Modern(Climber)
10)Lady Banks Lutea, Species

Carefree Beauty - super drought tolerant too.

Marie Pavie

 Considerations about my garden:  There is no spot in my yard which is dense shade, or even medium shade.   Even zero directly light is pretty bright out there (light shade), because I live in the southern US.  This makes a difference to some degree.  No rose will bloom in deep shade.  Some roses, on the margin will get blackspot in the shade more frequently than it would in the sun.   I do not have major blackspot issues in my garden, and I 100% attribute that to smart rose choices, because my climate is primo ideal for it, and I have had other plants with blackspot like fungal diseases.   I do get powdery mildew badly during the summer on non resistant plants (phlox and beebalm primarily), but my roses so far have been immune.   However, all of my roses are on a drip irrigation system or are in containers where the water situation is heavily managed.  Obviously, some of these are warm zone only roses, but not all of them.
Madame Alfred Carriere Climber - Z8+
Something I cannot comment on, though maybe others can, I don't have a big bug problem on the coast here (the mosquitos are only after us I'm afraid, and the palmetto bugs aren't after anybody they are just gross), so I have no idea how likely these are to have major bug infestations.  I've never seen a thrip or a spidermite in my garden, for which I am eternally grateful.  Outrageous humidity all year 'round does have its privileges.  Okay, so yeah, thats the only one... so far no Japanese beetles either.  Just too much concrete for them in the urban zone, is my guess.  I do have a perpetual slug problem, but none of the above roses are affected.  I think there is just too much else that tastes better out there.

Do any of you have some good suggestions for the not only 'shade tolerant', but 'shade is swell' rose bush varieties that you have tested with your own eyes?
Lady Banks


  1. Thanks, that was a great post. Being that I am in the NW and we get our fair amount of shade, that was very helpful! Thanks again.


  2. Excellent post, one I will refer back to. I am glad to see 'Ballerina' does well without full sun. I have admired it before and would love to have one in my garden. You have some really beautiful roses; what pleasure you must get from them as you stroll through your garden!

  3. I, too, grow several of these listed in fairly shady spots. And the Austin roses crave a little afternoon shade - at least in the south. Although, I have and still need to transplant some roses that are in a bit too much shade. Thanks for a list. Great post.

  4. I love the Carefree and New Dawn. I'm going to see if I can find them here!

  5. Your welcome guys and gals, I'm glad you found it useful. I wanted to mention that the Madame Alfred Carriere, Sharifa Asma, and Marie Pavie are all very intensely fragrant... the others are less so, just in case this is a factor.

  6. Great post, Jess. My Rosa mutabilis and 'Cinco de Mayo' receive afternoon shade and still bloom their fool heads off. I wish I had room for Mme. Carriere. She looks like a beaut. Aphids are a problem here but easy to get rid of with a squish or spritz of water.

  7. Oh, and Deb, Ballerina has got to be one of the worlds easiest bushes to propagate. If you see one, just get a cutting, stick it in a tiny pot in sphagnum in a large baggie, fully water it once, zip it shut, then set it in a bright (no direct light) window and forget it for 4 weeks. So far I have 100% success with this rose. Once transplanted in a larger pot, it grows very fast.

  8. Hi Jess! What beautiful rose pictures and so informative too! I actually learned something LOL

    We are being INVADED by Japanese beetles here in Summerville, well at least in my neighborhood. They have completely eaten all my knock-out rose blossoms off and I just had to prune it down to the ground (grrrrr) They also ate off all of my crepe myrtle blossoms, so no crepe myrtles this year in my yard. I have two crepe myrtle trees. We set out the traps and believe it or not those things really do work! It's amazing how many of those suckers they have caught. We've already changed out the bags twice. I know it sounds gross, but if it works, it works. I even have the neighbor guy using the traps.

    I think I will start a separate garden blog someday. I like the idea.

    p.s. nice storm we had last night huh? Rain, finally rain !

  9. Sandra - no kidding right? May 5th was the previous rain. And it woke me up last night! On the Japanese Beetles, your story tells me its definitely either being feet from the ocean or just the dense concrete of downtown that keeps them away. Everyone I know in the South practically has your same story but nobody here downtown has them.

  10. I'm so happy to see that someone is pointing this out, that many roses can indeed take some shade and still bloom nicely. 'Sharifa Asma' looks stunning btw! Another rose that I'd add to your list is 'Zephirine Drouhin' which is an antique rose that supposedly does very well in shade (it's fragrant and thornless as well), and I've added that one to my own garden just this year.

  11. Your selections and tips are spot on. I never plant hybrid teas, because in our area it takes too much work to keep them disease free and happy. And I always spec drip irrigation for any that I suggest to clients. You would be surprised how many people still go for the teas.

  12. Wow! Such gorgeous roses, never seen so many in a garden! I love them all, wish I could plant them in my garden, but Ive tried...Im not good with roses!

  13. Not only is the post informational but so are the comments....just wonderful to know so many roses that can tolerate some shade...looks like my wish list just got longer...thx Jess!!

  14. Where was this post twenty **mumble mumble** years ago? ;) Actually, I suspect some of these roses weren't available back then. I did try Lady Banks roses in our first garden, which had too much shade even for it. It lived, for a few years, but only squeeked out a bloom or two. It was a very shady garden though.

    In our last garden I had excellent luck with some Rugosa roses on the east side of a fence (var. Schneekoppe if memory serves). It got a little sun in the morning, but nothing in the afternoon. Always looked good in leaf, even when it wasn't blooming, and was absolutely blemish free. Beautiful hips, and lovely yellow fall foliage too.

    I wish I'd known about knockout roses in that garden though, I could have spared myself the pain and suffering with the picky DA English roses ;)

  15. I learned quite a bit about roses here today. I've never grown a rose before but inherited a number of bushes with our property. I had a small idea I would add more to the group and if I keep reading posts like this the decision will be easy.

  16. You have written a wonderful blog post filled with good info! I will have to pass this one.

  17. Jess, I have noted down this post for future reference for myself and my customers. The roses I grow in part shade are rugosas: Hansa, Alba Plena, Alba, and Polar Ice. Blushing Knock Out does well. I planted three orange 'Westerland' shrub roses in 6 hours of sun and they are blooming their heads off. Carolyn

  18. I agree! Actually lots of hybrid musks burn badly in all day sun, especially in the afternoon. Dark red roses will burn too :). My general rule is the fewer petals the easier time a rose will have opening in shady conditions, so I was surprised that your Sharifa Asma is shade tolerant. Well, I live and learn :).

  19. I say, this is an outstanding post! 'Ballerina' looks like a winner from here, the name has been duly scribbled away for further reading.

    Best wishes, Bertie

  20. Another rose that does well in partial shade is David Austin's Sceptre d'Isle. It's a beautiful soft pink climber. Very disease resistant, too. Mine grows in the shade of a massive, planet sized rose of sharon and is still trying to bloom in Dec in zone 7!

  21. Your roses are all SO beautiful - you are obviously taking wonderful care of them! I especially love Madame Alfred Carriere and that Sharifa Asma! Thanks for the useful post.

    1. Hey there! Unfortunately MAC isn't for you...its a noisette and not very hardy past about zone 8 :(... but Sharifa Asma, you definitely can grow that, and it stays smallish enough you can put it in a monster pot and it will do just fine.

  22. Hi Jess, I just found your blog from a comment you made on Donna's GWGT, so I'm exploring a bit. This post is just what I needed right now as it's autumn here and I'm working out which roses to order bare-rooted for this winter. I have a spot in my front garden that needs filling and I really wanted a "Ballerina" rose as it's just the colour and shape I imagined there. I was worried that the spot wouldn't be sunny enough for it, though (about 4 hours direct sun in summer)and so I was thinking about other plants. Thanks to your post, I'm ordering the Ballerina!

  23. I would love to try the Ballerina rose bush, is it able to grow in the midwest. I looked for it at our local garden center but they didn't know about it.
    thanks for all the great info

  24. What a great blog! Glad to have found you.

  25. Always so interesting to visit your site.What a great info, thank you for sharing. this will help me so much in my learning. forexprofit4tips

  26. I work in a nursery and found this very helpful. be sure to check your zone when ordering roses. as for the Japanese beetle bag...don't use them. they send off a pheremone that attracts them from miles around. so you are actually ringing a dinner bell to your yard. they will munch your plants first then go for the massive orgy you set up. best to put milky spore on your grass and kill them before they emerge.

  27. Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! Buy Evergreen Shrubs

  28. Where do I go to get these roses I live in Dallas Texas - Have 2 huge maple trees making it shady - Would love to grow roses

  29. Wow, those roses are magnificent. I usually get my roses from these people - Flower Merchant

  30. 2011...I wonder if you will get this, so far in the "future." Thank you for this excellent post. I'll look for the varieties you suggest. I live in the low desert -- central Arizona -- where our beloved old nurseries are falling as greed and development wipe them out. But if push comes to shove, maybe one can order the plants online.

    Temperatures warm year by year here (of COURSE we have no climate change! This is Arizona, after all...), and it grows harder and harder to grow anything other than a cactus or an agave. The west side of the rancheria here is shaded by a gigantic paloverde tree. Either its shade or its voracious parasites (paloverde borers, supposedly impervious to all weapons human-made) are killing the climbing roses that shade and grace the westside deck. As those roses die, I'd like to try something in large pots that can grow near the deck, set up out of the borers' reach. Some very fine ideas here. Thank you! <3

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