18 Great Roses for Shady Gardens

best roses for shade

Catherine Song/The Spruce, 2019

Roses are generally regarded as full-sun plants and they usually aren't considered for shade gardens. But even if your garden does not quite get the recommended five to six hours of full sun, you may still be able to grow select varieties. No rose will thrive and bloom without some sun, but there are some roses that 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.

There can even be some advantages to growing some roses in the shade Pale petaled beauties that can look washed out in bright sunshine will seem to glow in partial shade.

What's in a Name?

Understanding the official names of roses can be a little confusing, because the main genus (Rosa) is first divided into four subgenera, with the main subgenus (which also happens to be named Rosa) then divided into 11 sections. The full Latin name can be very long and is rarely used when categorizing a rose. Instead, a rose is usually named by the subgenus, followed by the original cultivar name, such as Rosa 'Peace.' But it gets a little confusing if different botanists are breeding the same roses from the same parents at the same time, or if commercial companies develop different trademarked versions of the same cultivar.


You may, therefore, find that the same plant is called by several different names depending on where and when you buy it. Rosa 'Peace', for example, has been known as 'Mme A. Meilland', 'Gioia', or 'Gloria Dei'. As a final complication, the commercial name may also throw in the hybrid class, such as "hybrid tea," "grandiflora" or "floribunda." Therefore, that simple Peace rose could carry a name like "Rosa subgenus Rosa, Hybrid Tea 'Peace'." Not to worry; a little careful reading will help you understand what rose you are buying.

  • 01 of 18

    'Anthony Meilland' Rose (Rosa floribunda 'Anthony Meilland')

    A closeup of Anthony Meilland Rose

    Star Roses & Plants

    The 'Anthony Meilland' rose is 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.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 10
    • Height: 2 to 4 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 02 of 18

    'Ballerina' Rose (Rosa 'Ballerina')

    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. It can also be trained as a beautiful small climber.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 10
    • Height: 4 to 6 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 03 of 18

    'Carefree Wonder' Rose (Rosa 'Carefree Wonder')

    Carefree Wonder rose

    Star Roses & Plants

    'Carefree Wonder' is a shrub rose that 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' (also known as a 'Meipitac' rose) is a repeat bloomer with single blooms of pink with white edges.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Height: 3 to 4 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 04 of 18

    'Eden Climber' Rose (Rosa 'Eden')

    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. It 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'.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Height: 6 to10 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    Continue to 5 of 18 below.
  • 05 of 18

    F. J. Grootendorst Rose (Rosa rugosa '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.

    • Native Area: Rugosa roses are native to eastern Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Height: 3 to 6 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 06 of 18

    Fair Bianca (Rosa 'Fair Bianca')

    Fair Bianco rose

    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 and 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.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Height: 3 to 5 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 07 of 18

    'Golden Showers' Rose (Rosa 'Golden Showers')

    Golden Showers climbing rose

    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. This climber looks equally nice against walls or structures.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Height: 8 to 10 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 08 of 18

    'Gruss an Aachen' Rose (Rosa floribunda '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.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Height: 1 to 2 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    Continue to 9 of 18 below.
  • 09 of 18

    'Ice Meidiland' Rose (Rosa 'Ice Meidiland')

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

    Ice Meidiland (also known as the 'Meivahyn' cultivar) is billed as "the perfect rose for busy people." It is an easy-care ground cover rose. While the early ground cover roses tended to be real sprawlers, this is a more civilized cultivar that is well behaved and also more pest resistant. Beautiful white, pompom-shaped blossoms are shaded with a soft pink.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Height: 1 to 2 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 10 of 18

    'Iceberg' Rose (Rosa floribunda 'Iceberg')

    Iceberg rose

    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 available both in shrub forms (to 4 feet) and climbers (to 12 feet).

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Height: 4 to 12 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 11 of 18

    Red Knock Out Rose (Rosa x 'Radrazz')

    Knock Out 'Radrazz' roses

    Star Roses & Plants

    A great shade tolerant rose is this 2000 All-America Rose Selection winner and 2004 American Rose Member’s Choice winner. This 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.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Height: 3 to 4 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 12 of 18

    'Marmalade Skies' Rose (Rosa floribunda 'Marmalade Skies')

    Marmalade Skies® 'Meimonblan' roses

    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.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Height: up to 3 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    Continue to 13 of 18 below.
  • 13 of 18

    'Mary Rose' Rose (Rosa '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' (Sometimes categorized as Rosa 'Ausmary' MARY ROSE) is a David Austin English rose and is a great repeat-flowering, shade tolerant, disease-resistant specimen. It makes a nice, bushy shrub with large (4- to 5-inch) blooms.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 10
    • Height: 4 to 5 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 14 of 18

    'New Dawn' Rose (Rosa '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 can be grown as a shrub or as a climbing rose.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zone: 5 to 9
    • Height: 4 to 11 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 15 of 18

    'Passionate Kisses' Rose (Rosa floribunda 'Passionate Kisses')

    Passionate Kisses ‘Meizebel’ roses

    Star Roses & Plants

    'Passionate Kisses' is the registered trademark name for a rose that is sometimes categorized by the official name of Rosa 'Meizebel'. It is a relatively new rose that first attracted attention because of its provocative name. A continual blooming floribunda, 'Passionate Kisses' has salmon-colored blossoms that light up in part shade. This is a compact rose that is a good candidate for borders and containers.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Height: 3 1/2 to 4 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 16 of 18

    'Playboy' Rose (Rosa 'Playboy"

    Playboy rose

    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 makes it a great rose in the border or landscape or planted as a hedge. It is sometimes known by another trademarked named, Rosa 'Cheerio.'

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Height: 3 to 4 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    Continue to 17 of 18 below.
  • 17 of 18

    'Seafoam' Rose (Rosa floribunda 'Seafoam')

    Seafoam roses

    Star Roses & Plants

    'Seafoam' is a floribunda first developed in 1963. It is used as mounding ground cover or landscape rose, but can also be trained as a short 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.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Height: 2 to 3 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 18 of 18

    'Zepherine Drouhin' Rose (Rosa 'Zéphirine 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 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.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid plant
    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9
    • Height: 4 to 12 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Growing Tip

These 18 varieties of roses will do perfectly wall in part shade conditions, but remember that "part shade" is a long way from "full shade" when it comes to sun exposure. There are no roses that will thrive in the same deep shade that plants like hostas prefer. When it comes to roses, "part shade" means a location that receives at least 3 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight a day, or lightly filtered sunlight for the entire day. Roses that aren't getting their minimum allowance of sunlight will produce few flowers, and the stems will get leggy and sparse.