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I always thought roses needed at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day to bloom their best.
But there are some that will actually “burn” in full sun and appreciate some shade.
Not full shade, mind you, but part shade.
Many roses will actually grow well if they have full sun in the morning. 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. (Do remember that tree will eventually grow a bigger canopy and may block out too much sun- at that point, just move the rose.)
But, no matter the rose, planting them the right way is still essential along with having the best soil to live and thrive in.
Some rose producers say roses with the most flowers prefer to have some shade…. Like the new shrub roses, some floribundas and polyantha like "The Fairy" Rose below.
These roses take the best traits of the hardiest rose species, and combine them with modern roses that keep blooming while showing new colours and fragrances.
Some shrub roses may grow tall, with vigorous, long and draping canes; others will stay compact. These are a recent favourite of mine.
They are hardier in harsh (winter) climates (Canadian zones 4 and 5 - USDA zones 3 and 4)
Please note: I use the Canadian zonal numbers which can be a 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 plant roses hardy to zone 3 or 4 even though I am in zone 5.
However, sometimes, I often fall in love with one labelled zone 6 and, throwing caution to the wind and plant it in a more protected spot. Sometimes I get to enjoy it for a season or two but I keep notes and hope for the best.
The new "Modern" roses, or "Garden" roses 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 lovely 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. Or “Marjorie Fair” (red) or an Alba (white) Meidland - which like The Fairy, is covered with tiny masses of blooms all summer.
‘'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 (a single bloom on a long stem), like ‘Pink Promise” below.
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 needs little deadheading as it does what ‘they’ call “self-cleaning”, meaning the petals fall off as another bloom is ready to blossom.
This rose below gets some afternoon shade from a cedar hedge and a tall Spruce. It is a Double Knockout in its first year.
Note: oops...the following season, I had to move this rose to another bed, far enough to not be affected by the 80 foot Black Walnut tree.
The BW was jealous and the rose just pouted. She got moved.
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 to consider for zones 5 to 10:
“Darlow’s Enigma” (Hybrid Musk) white, fragrant
“Ballerina” (Hybrid Musk)white with pink: fragrant
“Meivahyn” (Ice Meidiland - looks like The Fairy) small white pom-poms - an easy ground cover rose and
The one below is its first summer; planted late in the previous fall.
Vigorous grower and so lovely in a white garden.
Here are a few others...
“Prosperity” (Hybrid Musk), white double blooms and a light fragrance.
“ Gruss an Aachen” (Floribunda), salmon pink double blooms, fading to a lovely cream
“Fair Bianca” (an English Rose), white and smells a bit spicy.
Be sure to do your research;
- buy from a reputable grower; and make sure to tell the greenhouse about your soil, the lay of your land and how much sun, wind, shade etc.
Buying a rose just because you like it, (of course, you will, and so do I) but be sure.
Best success depends on having it fit your garden’s attributes.
No matter which one(s) you plant, with research and proper planting, you will have many years of success.
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