Rosy Shade:
Rose Varieties for Mostly Shade


No rose will be happy and bloom in full shade, but here are some top rosarian picks for great roses able to perform in partial shade. In general the roses that flower the most like floribundas and shrub roses, will do okay in the shade – anything less than six hours of sun will sacrifice some blooms.


Marmalade Skies ‘Melmonblan’, is an ever-blooming floribunda and a 2001 All-American Rose Selection award winner. It is a tangerine blooming machine. Blooming won’t be quite so abundant in partial shade, but will not disappoint you. This compact rose plant is ideal for low borders, or as a specimen in any landscape. Blooms early summer through fall. Zones 5-9.

Passionate Kisses ‘Meizeel’, as if a rose needed to advertise being romantic. This is a new rose and a continual blooming floribunda. It has salmon colored blossoms that light up in partial shade. Staying compact at about 3 ½ to 4 feet, it’s a good candidate for borders and containers. Good for Zones 5-9.


Playboy, some rosarians say this is the best shade tolerant rose there is this side of Knock Out. Glossy green foliage with 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, this rose has very good disease resistance. Its heavy blooming and medium, rounded habit make it a great rose planted as a hedge or border. Zones 4-9.


Seafoam, aptly named white rose is one of the mounding groundcover type floribunda landscape rose and can also be trained as a climber. The persistent masses of white blooms are not bothered by cold weather. Works great as an edger or in mass plantings. Zones 4-9


The Knock-Out, by far is the most shade tolerant of roses. This All-American Rose Selection winner and 2004 American Rose “Member’s Choice” winner is also drought tolerant; surviving and even thriving in the most devastating of dry summers. Humidity… bring it on! Highly resistant to black spot and the cycle of bloom is never ending. Will show-off from early spring until the hard frosts of winter. Zones 4-9.


Golden Showers, considered a modern climber, this rose was named an 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; plant against walls or structures. Zones 5-9.


Zepherine Drouhin, ahhh, a thornless climber… who knew? This rose is not just beautiful but easy to work with. Canes grow 8-10 feet long and can be easily trained and trellised. Deep cerise pink blooms and an old fashioned rose fragrance keeps this Bourbon climber growing in gardens for decades. While it is a shade rose, it is prone to fungal problems in high humidity. Good for Zones 6-9.


New Dawn, beautiful, disease resistant and fragrant – this rose is a near perfect rose. 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. Zones 5-9.


To enjoy roses all summer long in your shaded yard, choose one of these selections. If you pick a rose that has prolific flowers with big blooms you will have a perfectly happy plant. Even the pale beauties that can look washed out in bright sunshine seem to glow in partial shade.


Esther B. Smith, author

A rose can really grow in the shade? Sure it can and now you know which ones; even better.