Shade Tolerant Roses

One of the most common rose questions is “how much sun does my rose need?”  Nearly all roses perform best in full sun (more than 6 hours a day), where they are generally happiest and will set the most bloom.  Roses do not grow well in deep shade, where their growth will be leggy and bloom sacrificed.  However, a number of roses can tolerate partly shady conditions (about 4 hours of sunlight a day), including the dappled shade beneath a canopy of trees.

Roses that tolerate partial shade tend to be closely related to species roses native to forest or thicket habitats.  Once-blooming varieties (such as many Old Garden Roses) are usually less demanding in their light requirements.  Pale or pastel-colored blooms are actually better-suited for a shady display, where they will brighten up a dark corner as opposed to being washed out in the sun.

Growing a rose in shade represents a certain amount of stress, so take extra care to ensure all other cultural needs are met (adequate water, fertilizer, and proper pruning practices).  If planting beneath trees, make sure to avoid root competition and plant the rose a good distance away from the surrounding trunk.  Drainage is also important, as shady areas are often damp.  There should be no standing water or soggy soil around the base of your rose.

Shaded roses will grow taller than if they were in full sun, so plan accordingly.  They may also bloom less, which is why prolific bloomers such as floribundas and spray roses perform better than hybrid teas.  On the positive side, both fragrance and bloom last longer in the shade than they do in full sun.

Shade Tolerant Roses

A selection of Hybrid Musk roses grow in the shade of towering Douglas Fir trees in the North Garden at Heirloom Roses.  Queen Margrethe is in the left foreground, with Rosy Purple at right.  Certain classes of roses (such as Alba, Gallica, Damask, Hybrid Musk, Hybrid Rugosa and Polyantha) tend to be more shade tolerant and are a good bet for performing well in less-than-ideal light conditions.

Shade Tolerant Roses

Species Roses

  • Apothecary's Rose (dp)
  • Rosa banksiae (w)
  • Rosa glauca (mp)
  • Rosa moyesii (mr)
  • Rosa Mundi (pb/striped)
  • Rosa rugosa alba (w)
  • Rosa rugosa rubra (m/dp)


  • Alba Semi-plena (w)
  • Celestial (lp)
  • Félicité Parmentier (lp)
  • Great Maiden's Blush (w/lp)
  • Mme. Plantier (w)
  • Queen of Denmark (mp/pb)
  • Petite Lisette (dp)
  • Pompon Blanc Parfait (lp/w)

Hybrid Musks

  • Ballerina (mp)
  • Bouquet Parfait (pb)
  • Buff Beauty (ab)
  • Cornelia (pb/yb)
  • Dancing in the Wind (pb)
  • Felicia (pb)
  • Francesca (ab)
  • Lavender Lassie (m/mp)
  • Moonlight (ly/w)
  • Penelope (lp)
  • Sally Holmes (w)


  • Clotilde Soupert (w)
  • Gloria Mundi (or)
  • La Marne (pb)
  • Mlle. Cécile Brunner (lp)
  • The Fairy (lp)
  • Yesterday (mp)

Hybrid Rugosas

  • Blanc Double de Coubert (w)
  • F.J. Grootendorst (mr/lr)
  • Hansa (mr/m)
  • Marie Bugnet (w)
  • Pavement Roses (series)
  • Robusta (mr/m)
  • Roseraie de l'Haÿ (dr/m)
  • Scabrosa (m)
  • Thérèse Bugnet (mp)

Climbers/Climbing Shrubs

  • Altissimo (mr)
  • Antique (w/rb)
  • Awakening (lp)
  • Breath of Life (ab)
  • Casino (ly)
  • Clair Matin (ab/mp)
  • Cl. Gold Badge (my)
  • Cl. Iceberg (w)
  • Dortmund (mr)
  • Dublin Bay (mr)
  • Eden (pb)
  • Galway Bay (op/dp)
  • Golden Showers (my)
  • Henry Kelsey (mr)
  • New Dawn (lp)
  • Red Cascade (dr)
  • Ramblers
  • Albéric Barbier (w/ly)
  • American Pillar (pb)
  • Apple Blossom (lp)
  • "Darlow's Enigma" (w)
  • Ghislaine de Féligonde (ly)
  • Mermaid (ly)
  • Paul's Himalayan Musk (lp)
  • Veilchenblau (m)

David Austin English Roses

  • A Shropshire Lad (yb)
  • Claire Rose (mp)
  • Constance Spry (lp)
  • Crocus Rose (w/ab)
  • Crown Princess Margareta
  • Fair Bianca (w)
  • Gertrude Jekyll (mp)
  • Golden Celebration (dy)
  • Heritage (lp)
  • Hyde Hall (pb)
  • James Galway (lp/mp)
  • Mary Rose (mp)
  • Mortimer Sackler (lp)
  • Queen of Sweden (lp)
  • St. Swithun (lp)
  • Teasing Georgia (yb/my)
  • Tess of the d'Urbervilles (dr)
  • The Generous Gardener (lp)
  • The Prince (dr)
  • Wildeve (pb/lp)

Shrub Roses

  • Alchymist (ab)
  • Applejack (pb)
  • Autumn Sunset (ab)
  • Carefree Beauty (mp)
  • Carefree Wonder (pb)
  • Chorale (lp)
  • Country Dancer (dp)
  • Eyeopener (mr)
  • Floorshow Roses (series)
  • Flutterbye (yb)
  • Knock Out (rb/lr)
  • Lyda Rose (w/pb)
  • Scarlet Meidiland (mr)
  • Seafoam (w)
  • Summer Wind (op)
  • Westerland (ab)


  • Angel Face (m)
  • Betty Boop (rb)
  • Escapade (m/pb)
  • Iceberg (w)
  • Margaret Merril (w)
  • Marmalade Skies (ob)
  • Playboy (rb/ob)
  • Playgirl (mp)

Old Garden Roses

  • Blush Noisette (w)
  • Complicata (pb)
  • Duchesse de Montebello (lp)
  • Gloire de Dijon (op)
  • Jacques Cartier (lp)
  • Louise Odier (dp)
  • Mme. Alfred Carrière (w)
  • Mme. Hardy (w)
  • Mme. Isaac Péreire (dp)
  • Mutabilis (yb)
  • Old Blush (mp/pb)
  • Quatre Saisons (mp)
  • Rose de Rescht (dp)
  • Stanwell Perpetual (w/lp)
  • Tuscany Superb (m)
  • Zéphirine Drouhin (mp)
  • Hybrid Teas
  • Dainty Bess
  • Mister Lincoln

Playboy (Floribunda)


Darlow's Enigma (Hybrid Musk)

“Darlow’s Enigma”
(Hybrid Musk)

Mary Rose (Shrub/Austin)

Mary Rose
(Shrub Rose, David Austin®)

Cornelia (Hybrid Musk)

(Hybrid Musk)

Mermaid (Hybrid Bracteata)

(Hybrid Bracteata)

Scabrosa (Hybrid Rugosa)

(Hybrid Rugosa)

Altissimo (Large-Flowered Climber)

(Large-Flowered Climber)

Queen of Denmark (Alba)

Queen of Denmark