The Best Roses for a Shaded Garden

illustration of best roses for shade

Catherine Song/The Spruce, 2019

You probably do not think about roses for a shade garden. However, if your garden does not quite get the five to six hours of full sun usually recommended for growing roses, you may still be able to grow select varieties. No rose will thrive and bloom without some sun, but some roses will do just fine with a little shade.

According to Steve Hutton, who introduced the Star Rose cultivar, “In general the roses that flower the most, like floribundas and shrub roses, will do better in the shade... Anything less than six hours of sun will sacrifice some blooms. But, if you pick a rose that has prolific flowers with big blooms you will have a perfectly happy plant." Pale petaled beauties that can look washed out in bright sunshine seem to glow in partial shade.

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    Anthony Meilland

    A closeup of Anthony Meilland Rose

    Photo from Star Roses & Plants

    Anthony Meilland roses, also called Meitalbaz roses, are a deep, rich shade of yellow that does not fade and will glow in the shade. A pleasant, mild fragrance and a second bloom in late summer add to its appeal. Anthony Meilland is a bushy, mounded plant ideal for borders, hedges and as a mass planting.

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    Ballerina roses
    Garden Photo World/Georgianna Lane/Getty Images

    Dainty, five-petaled blooms of pink and white grow in clusters on this beloved hybrid musk shrub from 1937. This variety is praised for its disease resistance, fragrance, and shade tolerance. A ballerina can bloom well into the fall and has the bonus of attractive hips. A ballerina can also be trained as a beautiful small climber up to six feet. It grows in hardiness zones 5 to 10.

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    Carefree Wonder

    Carefree Wonder rose

    Photo from Star Roses & Plants

    Carefree lives up to its name, adapting to almost any conditions -while the blossoms are exceptional in appearance, the sheer quantity of flowers makes the bush a delight in any garden. Carefree Wonder (or Meipitac Rose) is a repeat bloomer with single blooms of pink with white edges. It is grown in hardiness zones 4 through 9.

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    Eden Climber

    Eden Climber rose
    Masahiro Nakano/a.collectionRF/Getty Images

    Eden Climber is a large, old-fashioned-looking rose with large, double blooms in pastel shades of pink, cream, and yellow. Eden Climber has a pleasant scent and looks and smells wonderful along a fence. It is one of the most floriferous climbers with equally attractive deep green foliage. This plant also goes by the name Pierre de Ronsard or Meiviolin and grow in hardiness zones 5 through 9.

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    F. J. Grootendorst

    F. J. Grootendorst roses

    Marie Iannotti/Getty Images

    It is hard to beat hybrid rugosas for toughness and dependability. Also called Grootendorst roses, they are a classic, carefree grower. Small puckered leathery leaves offset clusters of double, bright red blossoms. Although the original Grootendorst is red, it has produced varieties in pink and even white. They all make great specimen plants that can easily grow as tall as 6 feet. It grows in hardiness zones 5 through 9.

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    Fair Bianca

    Fair Bianco rose

    Photo from David Austin Roses

    Rose cultivator David Austin scored again with the Fair Bianca English rose also called Ausca. Fair Bianca has densely petaled pure white blooms with a spicy scent. A compact 3-foot tall bush, Fair Bianca packs all of the great features of David Austin roses: pest resistance, cold hardiness, and heat tolerance. It blooms heavily in mid-summer and then sporadically through fall. It grows in hardiness zones 4 through 9.

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    Golden Showers

    Golden Showers climbing rose

    Photo from David Austin Roses

    Considered a modern climber, Golden Showers was named an All American Rose Selection (AARS) winner in 1956. Its name comes from the bright yellow blossoms that seem to flower continuously. With a honey-like fragrance, the blossoms make excellent cut flowers. It grows 6 to 8 feet tall and looks equally nice against walls or structures. It grows in hardiness zones 5 through 9.

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    Gruss an Aachen

    Gruss an aachen
    Michael Davis/Getty Images

    This compact floribunda is covered with buds that open as clusters of salmon pink double flowers and fade to creamy white. It blooms profusely over a long period and does not seem to mind partial shade at all. A favorite since its 1909 introduction, Gruss an Aachen grows to about 2 feet wide by 3 feet tall, making it a nice choice for a border or hedge. It grows in hardiness zones 5 to 9.

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  • 09 of 18

    Ice Meidiland

    A closeup of Ice Meidiland 'Meivahyn'
    ilbusca/Getty Images

    Ice Meidiland or the Meivahyn cultivar is billed as "The perfect rose for busy people." It is an easy-care groundcover rose. The first ground cover roses tended to be real sprawlers, but this type is more well behaved and also more pest resistant. Beautiful white, pompom-shaped blossoms are shaded with a soft pink.

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    Iceberg rose

    Photo from David Austin Roses

    Iceberg roses have long been the standard to which other floribundas are measured. Iceberg was inducted into the World Federation of Rose Societies Hall of Fame in 1983 and remains a garden classic. It lives up to the category floribunda with lots of icy-white buds that open into double rose blossoms. It is grown in hardiness zones 5 through 9.

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    Knock Out Radrazz

    Knock Out 'Radrazz' roses

    Photo from Star Roses & Plants

    By far the most shade tolerant of roses is this 2000 All-America Rose Selection winner and 2004 American Rose Member’s Choice winner. The Knock Out rose, also known as Radrazz, is incredibly disease resistant and easy growing. It is also drought tolerant; surviving and even thriving in the most devastating of dry summers, as well as the most humid summers. It is highly resistant to black spot. The cycle of bloom and growth is never-ending and provides a show of brightly colored cherry-red blooms from early spring until well into the hard frosts of winter. It is grown in hardiness zones 4 through 9.

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    Marmalade Skies Meimonblan

    Marmalade Skies® 'Meimonblan' roses

    Photo from Star Roses & Plants

    Marmalade Skies, an everblooming floribunda, and a 2001 All-America Rose Selections award winner ​is a tangerine blooming machine. Blooming will not be quite so abundant in partial shade, but it should not disappoint. This compact, everblooming plant is ideal for low borders, or as a specimen in any landscape. It blooms early summer through fall in hardiness zones 5 through 9.

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    Mary Rose

    Mary Rose® ‘Ausmary’ roses
    David Austin Roses

    Dark pink buds open to full, paler pink rosettes with a soft honey fragrance. Mary Rose (also called Ausmary) is a David Austin English rose and is a great repeat-flowering, shade tolerant, disease resistant specimen. It makes a nice, bushy shrub, growing up to four feet. It grows in hardiness zones 6 through 10.

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    New Dawn

    A closeup of some new dawn roses
    Maria Mosolova/Getty Images

    Beautiful, disease resistant and fragrant, New Dawn is a near perfect rose. New Dawn was inducted into the World Federation of Rose Society Hall of Fame in 1997. The double pink, fragrant flowers fade to soft pink and stay attractive for a long season. Expect New Dawn to bloom in the spring and again in late summer. It grows in hardiness zones 5 through 9.

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    Passionate Kisses

    Passionate Kisses ‘Meizebel’ roses

    Photo from Star Roses & Plants

    Passionate Kisses (Meizebel) is a relatively new rose that first attracted attention because of its name. After all, your average rose does not advertise being romantic, it is usually implied. A continual blooming floribunda, Passionate Kisses has salmon-colored blossoms that light up in partial shade. Staying compact at about 3 1/2 to 4 feet, its a good candidate for borders and containers. It grows in hardiness zones 5 through 9.

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    Playboy rose

    Photo from Star Roses & Plants

    Some rosarians say this is the best shade-tolerant rose there is next to the Knock Out. Glossy green foliage offsets the large, orange-scarlet, semi-double blooms. Playboy's flowers pass through shades of yellow and orange on their way to the deep red of the fading blooms. A 1989 Gold Medal winner, the Playboy has very good disease resistance. Its heavy-blooming and medium, rounded habit make it a great rose in the border or landscape or planted as a hedge. It grows in hardiness zones 4 through 9.

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    Seafoam roses

    Photo from Star Roses & Plants

    Seafoam is a floribunda used as mounding ground cover or landscape rose. It can also be trained as a climber. The persistent mass of white blooms gave rise to its name. It is extremely cold hardy and adaptable. Seafoam works great as an edger or in mass plantings. It grows in hardiness zones 4 through 9.

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    Zepherine Drouhin

    Zephirine drouhin
    Ron Evans/Getty Images

    Zepherine Drouhin is known as the thornless climber, making it not just beautiful, but easy to work with. Its canes grow 8 to 10 feet long and can be easily trained and trellised. Deep cerise-pink blooms and an old-fashioned rose fragrance have kept this Bourbon climber growing in gardens for decades. Although it accommodates shade, it is prone to fungal problems in high humidity. It grows in hardiness zones 6 through 9.