I always thought that roses needed at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day to be able to bloom their hearts out.
But there are some that will actually “burn” in full sun and appreciate some shade. Not full shade, mind you, but part shade.
Many will even grow well if they have full sun in the morning. Just remember part shade does not mean shade in the morning and sun in the afternoon.
Part shade could also be the shade from a hedge, or from a young but tall tree with an immature canopy. (Don't forget, though, that tree will eventually grow a larger canopy and may block out too much sun which could require you to move that rose.)
Some rose producers say roses with the most flowers prefer to be in the shade…. Like the new shrub roses, some floribundas and polyantha like The Fairy Rose below.
“SHRUB ROSES” Shrub roses take the best of the hardiest rose species, and combine those traits with modern repeat blooming and diverse flower forms, colors and fragrances. Some shrub roses may grow tall, with vigorous, far-reaching canes; others stay compact and are a recent and welcome favourite of mine. They are hardier in harsh climates (Canadian zones 4 and 5 - USDA zones 3 and 4)
Please note: I use the Canadian equivalent of zonal numbers which tends to be one zone lower than the USDA zones - example, USDA zone 4 is generally zone 3 in Canada) To be more sure of a rose's hardiness, I often plant one hardy to zone 3 or 4 even though I am in zone 5.
But sometimes, I throw caution to the wind and plant one for zone 6... and down the road, I might have to throw it to the wind too... although I enjoyed it for a season or two....
They are very disease resistant, easy to care for, and better still, they just keep blooming.
My little rose bed beside the drive gets pounded with ice and snow from the plough, the puppies and humans. And yet, the roses keep blooming !
One example of a shrub rose is ‘The Fairy’, (a polyantha = many blooms). It blooms from early summer to late fall with hundreds of small blooms gracing its stems. “The Fairy”, with it mass of pink flowers, will grow well in either full sun, or dappled shade as will “Marjorie Fair” which is red.
‘'FLORIBUNDA” roses (from the Latin - “many-flowers”) belong to a fairly new group of roses that come from crossing a polyantha like ‘The Fairy’ rose and a hybrid tea rose with a single bloom on a long stem, like ‘Pink Promise” below.
But now back to growing roses in the shade.
Both floribundas and shrub roses are prolific bloomers so given some partial shade, they may not be quite as prolific, but they will be much more content. Especially white roses, or the pale cream ones that tend to look washed out in full sun. They will show off more with some shade...better for photos too.
Here are some roses that do not mind some dappled sunlight or even a bit of shade:
"Docteur Jamain” (below) is a David Austin, old rose climber and a perpetual bloomer in a deep burgundy with a gorgeous scent but "he" does burn in too much sun. Perhaps he would do better on a wall that faces north. This was one of Vita Sackville-West’s favourites.
Photo credit: David Austin Roses
"The Knock-Out Rose"- (Radrazz)
This incredible rose blooms from early spring to late fall with glorious deep pink blooms with dark green, glossy leaves and is comfy in zone 4 (to 9) gardens.
This shrub rose also needs little deadheading as it does what ‘they’ call “self-cleaning”, which just means the petals fall off as another bloom is ready to blossom.
Mine get some afternoon shade from a cedar hedge and a tall Spruce . The photo below, shows the Double Knockout in my garden in its first year. What a thrill!
The Hybrid Musk Family of Roses will put on a great show if planted in drifts as hedges or the edges of borders. As a group, they have been known to tolerate a little less light than most others which is a boon if you have some dappled sunlight and you crave roses.
Here are some roses you might consider for zones 5 to 10:
“Darlow’s Enigma” - (Hybrid Musk) - white with a deep fragrance
“Ballerina” - (Hybrid Musk) - white with pink and a lovely smell
“Meivahyn” - ( Ice Meidiland - looks like The Fairy) but has masses of small white pom-poms -this one is a ground cover rose, and very easy to grow.
The one in the photo below is its first summer and was planted late in the previous fall.
Vigorous grower and so lovely in a white garden.
Here are a few others...
“Prosperity” - (Hybrid Musk), also white with double blooms and a light fragrance.
“ Gruss an Aachen” - (Floribunda) with salmon pink double blooms, fading to a lovely cream
“Fair Bianca” -(an English Rose), also white and smells a bit spicy.
These are only a few of the varieties that don’t mind some shade.
Be sure to do your research; buy from a reputable grower; and make sure to tell the greenhouse about your soil, and the lay of your land - like how much sun, wind, shade etc.
Buying a rose just because you like it, (of course, you will, and so do I) but it may put you (and me) on the road to disappointment.
Better to have another (which of course, will be just a beautiful) to fit your garden’s attributes than plant a favourite only to have the rose unhappy.
There are so many to choose from, that no matter which one(s) you put into your garden, with some research and planting correctly, you will have many years to fall in love with that rose, again and again...like the Pink Knock-out below.