You may think that without at least six hours of direct sun a day, you need to give up the idea of growing roses in your garden. While it is true that roses love direct sun, and are at their best with plenty of light, there ARE some roses that will tolerate a partially shady location. The key word is “partial” because no rose will thrive or bloom in a completely shaded spot. But if your garden has a location with at least a couple hours of morning sun, there are roses that are worth a try.
You will not find the classic hybrid teas on the list of shade-tolerant roses. Those require a full day of sun for beautiful blooms and healthy growth. The roses that can take a little bit of shade are mostly shrub roses and some floribundas. There are also a few climbers that will do okay in less than ideal light.
Look for any of the following for your less-than-sunny garden:
- Playboy This beautiful floribunda has red-and-yellow bicolor flowers, yellow in the center and shading out to an orangey red on the petal edges. It has few petals, normally 10 or less on each bloom. Playboy is very disease resistant, and has a mild fragrance.
- Iceberg These are the go-to floribundas for mass planting, public areas such as malls or office areas, or your partially shaded rose garden. Available in pure white, purple or pink, Iceberg is very disease resistant, has a lovely scent, and a fully petalled, close to classic rose form.
- Knock Out One of the best recent developments in the rose world, Knock Out is not only exceptionally hardy and disease resistant, it is in almost continuous bloom, tolerates partial shade, and is even somewhat drought tolerant. These shrub roses come in a wide range of colors, including red, yellow and pink, and are now available in a double-petalled variety. Knock Out needs no deadheading, little pruning and is one of the most maintenance-free roses available.
- Ballerina This charming, old-fashioned hybrid musk rose has only five petals per bloom, with a cream center shading to pink edges. The musky fragrance adds to the appeal of Ballerina, but it is susceptible to blackspot.
- Abraham Darby A stunning, apricot rose from David Austin, Abraham Darby has the full, multi-petalled rose form typical of the Austin shrub roses. Abraham Darby has a wonderful, strong fragrance, and is nearly thornless. It can be trained into a climbing form, and has a wonderfully old-fashioned appearance.
- Fair Bianca Another winner from David Austin, Fair Bianca is pure white, with a full, multi-petalled form and strong fragrance. Perfect for lighting up a partially shaded area of your garden.
- Golden Showers A climber with endless yellow flowers with crumpled petals, Golden Showers has a strong fragrance and great disease resistance. It can reach up to 14’ high, making it perfect for climbing up a gazebo, arch or pillar.
- New Dawn Another climber, New Dawn has flowers of the palest pink with a sweet fragrance. Canes can reach up to 20’, making this the perfect dainty rose to clamber up and over a doorway, arch or gazebo.
Don’t let a lack of sunlight scare you away from growing roses. As long as you have at least a few hours of morning sun, you can grow these shade-tolerant beauties.