Roses have a reputation for being extremely temperamental plants that are challenging to keep alive and care for. However, not all roses are difficult. Shrub roses are some of the easiest options to grow, and they have the same beautiful pull that traditional roses offer, but they cut out the fuss.
Shrub roses are available in a large range of colors from red so deep it’s almost black ro snowy white. The flowers won’t be nearly as showy on shrub roses as more traditional hybrids, but they are much more resilient while offering less maintenance needs. Newer cultivars are available that were selectively bred for excellent hardiness, disease resistance, and a bigger number of flowers per plant.
We’re going to outline the most popular types of shrub roses for you below, and you can easily mix and match to get stunning color with fragrant flowers all spring and summer long.
Shrub roses are a wonderful addition to any garden as they provide fun pops of color without piling onto your maintenance chores.
Shrub Rose General Overview
|Bloom Time:||Some cultivars bloom once in late spring to early summer, but many offer two or more blooming sessions per season. Some will flower continuously until the first frost, depending on the cultivar|
|Exposure:||Light shade to full sun, but they bloom best in full sun|
|Flower Color(s):||Orange, red, purple, yellow, white, pink blue, and more|
|Height:||One to three feet, three to eight feet, or 8 to 20 feet|
|Plant Type:||Rose shrub|
|Toxicity:||All parts are non-toxic to dogs and cats, but some pets have mild discomfort if they eat it. Sharp thorns can cause internal injuries.|
|Width:||1 to 15 feet|
|Zones:||3 to 11|
Classifying Shrub Roses
Every type of rose available is grouped into one of three categories, and the American Rose Society lays out these standards around the world. The main categories you can pick from are species, modern, and old garden. All shrubs are in the modern category, and the use of “shrub” is a catch-all group for any rose that doesn’t fit the specifications for other groups.
At first, the shrub category had very few cultivars until David Austin, a well-known breeder came into the picture. When he first started breeding new cultivars, he registered them in the shrub category, and some people refer to them as English roses. Once these plants took off, the breeders started registering their specimens as shrub roses, and the shrub category became very popular in the commercial sector, more so than any other classification.
To make it even more confusing, you can choose from modern and classic shrubs. Classic shrub roses are broken down further as hybrid musk, hybrid moyesii, hybrid rugosa, or hybrid kordesii, and all of these hybrids came from old-world roses. There’s also the modern shrub rose sub-category, and this gets anything that doesn’t work in the classic category.
You also don’t want to confuse classic shrub classifications with the classic rose either. Some people talk about classic cultivars when they’re talking about hybrids or old garden species. Also, shrub doesn’t necessarily refer to the growth habit. You can get ground cover shrub roses that are very low-growing, and there are climbing roses that reach upwards of 15 feet tall.
Shrub roses are usually tougher, hardier, and easier to grow than the old garden cultivars as they’re finicky. They’re also less prone to having issues with diseases and pests, and they can handle humid conditions and arid conditions as long as they’re temporary, along with brief droughts. The blossom size on your shrub roses falls between the species and old garden types. The blooms also tend to grow in groups instead of singles.
So, shrub roses combine a huge range of characteristics that species and old world roses have, like the dramatic, showy blooms in old gardens and the reduced maintenance needs of species. They get bred to do well in your garden and offer pretty and continuous blooms, but you don’t see the massive blooms that the tea rose bushes offer. However, it’s a nice compromise, and we’ll outline more about them below.
19 Popular Shrub Roses
Shrub roses are very popular due to how low-maintenance they are and how big of a reward you get from growing them. Below are 19 cultivars you should consider adding to your yard or garden.
1. Alfred Sisley Shrub Rose
The bright coloring this shrub rose offers can catch and hold people’s attention when they see it. The name is after Alfred Sisley, and he was an impressionist landscape painter who worked in France for the bulk of his career. The beauty of this plant showcases the color concoction of orange or burnt salmon to cream-colored white stripes and yellow on the backside. The foliage is glossy and very dark green.
This shrub rose produces large and frilly semi-double blooms, and you have minimal maintenance efforts to worry about. It’s a compact plant that will happily grow in a sunny but small space in your garden and produce flowers abundantly during the active blooming season. It needs the maximum amount of sunlight to grow and produce flowers, and this shrub rose is lightly fragrant. It’ll get between two and three feet high on your patio or lawn if you don’t have room in your garden for it.
2. At Last Shrub Rose
This orange shrub rose is a must-have in your landscape design. It was the first teacup rose cultivar that is aromatic, and it resists several diseases. Also, this plant has very low maintenance needs, and they bloom in the early spring months until the first frost of the season. These sweetly scented shrub roses have a glossy foliage with apricot-orange flowers that will slowly transition to a pale pink coloring.
You’ll get a dense, beautiful, compact, and rounded habitation with this shrub rose, and you can grow them in larger containers or in your garden. However, it will get two to three feet high in full sun, and you want to plant them in fertile, rich, well-drained soil. You should also make a point to prune this shrub rose and fertilize it around spring to encourage healthy blooms. It grows in zones five to nine without issues.
3. Black Rosa Bush
Black is the new red when it comes to shrub roses, and this is a show-stealing cultivar. Also, they produce double blooms when they flower, and this can help the plant look much fuller. This is a hybrid plant that has been around and in use since the Victorian era, so they offer a very high quality when it comes to the blooms and foliage.
4. Brindabella Purple Rose
This is another classic, disease-free cultivar that enhances the natural beauty of your garden. This shrub rose displays clusters of double blooms in purple and pink shades, and they’re a classic choice for your lawn. You can enjoy this plant for a long time without having to deadhead or prune it, and it’s a very fragrant flower that has clean yet dense foliage. They are extremely fragrant, and they’ll make a wonderful addition in your garden.
In two years, this shrub rose can get up to four feet tall. You’ll want to give it a lot of moist soil with enough fertility. Also, this rose requires at least six hours of direct sunlight each day to flourish, and you can get them as bare-root plants or in pots, depending on your location. It doesn’t require a lot of maintenance to keep it looking nice, and it’ll flower well into the autumn months.
Cornelia came to the commercial market in 1925, and it is disease and pest-resistant, and this shrub rose can tolerate higher humidity levels. Depending on the sun exposure and heat it gets, the big double blooms this plant produces can be a deep salmon to a pale pink color. It’s best to grow this rose as a climbing cultivar since it has throneless canes that can get up to 12 feet tall. You can prune it to keep the shrub shape if you like. It also looks wonderful crawling along your walls. It’s hardy to zone six, and you want to put it in a protected place from the wind. In 1993, this plant received the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
6. Double Pink Knock Out Rose
The large flowers this shrub rose produces in a pretty shade of soft pink contrast beautifully with the darker foliage. Since it’s a Knockout variety, it has a natural resistance to black spots, mildew, and a lot of other diseases that are specific to rose plants. They even get rid of the need for you to deadhead and spray them, and this is usually important with similar cultivars to keep them healthy. They’ll start showing colors in early spring and bloom until the first hard frost comes through. The foliage will start out a mossy green and go to deep purple as fall approaches, and it’s hardy in zones five to nine.
To get the most blooms, you should plant it in an area that offers full sunlight and water it once a week after the roots develop. This is a drought-resistant cultivar that doesn’t require a huge amount of water to be happy. You can plant them around the accent or on a low hedge as they don’t get over three feet high.
7. Double Red Knockout Shrub Rose
Offering an abundance of blooms, this shrub rose can cover an entire area when you plant them. You should space them out with three to four feet between each one, and this is a high-performance cultivar that will bloom in the hottest conditions with no signs of fading. Blooming will start very early in the spring and go until late fall, and it’s a very low-maintenance choice that is self-cleaning and perfect for the busy gardener. If you give it humus-rich, well-drained soil, this plant will take care of itself.
While the flowers will eventually dry up, this shrub rose offers colors to your garden. The foliage will have a color shift from green to burgundy and purple in the fall, and it’ll come back to the original green in the spring. They work well in flower borders or beds, and you don’t need to add a lot of water because they resist drought. They also resist black spots, so this removes the need to spray them regularly as well.
Felicia shrub roses are fabulous flowers, and they were the recipient of the Certificate of Merit in 1927 by the National Rose Society, and they also won the 1993 Award of Garden Merit from the RHS. The filly, large double blooms are very fragrant and dark to pale pink. The petals will gradually fade from dark to light when you look from the center out to the edges of the plant. They also produce a very heady, strong fragrance and make wonderful cut flowers for bouquets.
This plant produces a huge burst of flowers in the springtime before it tapers off to a smaller blossom flush during the summer. Once fall arrives, you’ll see the longest-lasting and biggest flowers of the year followed by round, large hips. It’s hardy to zone five, and it produces arching, graceful canes that are virtually thornless and multi-branched. They can get up to 10 feet tall at full maturity, and you can grow it as a climber in a container or as a shrub.
9. Hybrid Rugosa
Rugosas are a shrub rose that is very cold-hardy, resistant to black spot, and very fragrant. The most common commercial cultivars are the Parkland series. A lot of the hybrid rugosa have single or double blooms that produce flowers over and over throughout the growing season with large hips. They can handle light drought and shade conditions. No matter if it’s a hybrid or not, they won’t do well with any pesticide applications, so you want to avoid hitting the foliage with chemicals.
These hybrids came from crossing the R. rugosa with other rose species. Rugosa also means wrinkled, and this refers to the deeply veined, wrinkled foliage. The leaves are typically a very glossy, deep green coloring, and this creates a nice contrast with the flowers.
10. Jens Munk
This shrub rose is part of the Canadian Explorer series, but it actually has rugosa parentage instead of kordesii parentage. This hardy bush can tolerate part shade, and it gets roughly four feet tall at full maturity in a mound-like, compact growth habit. When the plant is young, it has a very leggy and gangely shape for the first few years before transitioning to a neater appearance. It’s hardy down to planting zone two, and you get fragrant, semi-double blossoms that are bright pink with yellow centers. It’s a very vigorous grower and bloomer that is very disease resistant.
11. Lichtkönigin Lucia
As you may have guessed by the name, this is a German-bred shrub rose hybrid. It’s a very vigorous, vibrant plant that offers huge clusters of double blooms that seem to almost glow when the sun hits them. This helped it earn the nickname of Lucia, Queen of Light. It’s also the winner of the Allgemeine Deutsche Rosenneuheitenprüfung (ADR) German rose trials since 1968. It’s one of the few shrub roses to keep this status so long. It’s hardy to zone five, fragrant, disease-resistant, healthy, and it’ll bloom all summer long.
12. Midnight Blue Shrub Rose
The Midnight Blue shrub rose is one for the minimalists and modernists. They produce a very spicy clove-like fragrance with very dark purple-colored blooms. One unique aspect of this flower is that the purple on the petals contrasts nicely with the bright yellow stamens. The unique clove scent will hit you each time you walk by it, and they can grow in smaller spaces without a problem, despite the shrub classification. You do need to be in the correct hardiness zone to ensure the flower’s proper growth, and this is in zones 6 to 10.
Like most shrub rose cultivars, you’ll see a lot of green foliage throughout the year to provide you welcome color to the landscape. It’s a plant that’ll bloom continuously with big clusters of roses when you plant it in full sun. In colder environments, the colors are much deeper, and the flowers are bigger. They’re also resistant to several different floral diseases and viral infestations, so the maintenance is minimal.
13. Orange Pink Rose
Orange pink isn’t a traditional color, especially when it comes to roses. The planting soil for this type of shrub rose should be moist but not soggy or soaked. You can start them from seed in a baggie of moist soil in your refrigerator for 10 to 12 weeks until they start to germinate and then plant them out in your garden. They like full sun to partial shade, and the soil should be very rich. They do have a lower sprouting rate of 20% to 30% if you choose to grow from seed, so you should plant far more than you need to ensure you get enough plants for your space.
14. Oso Easy Lemon Zest Rose
The sunshine yellow coloring on this shrub rose makes a cheerful addition to your garden. Also, the bright yellow blooms contrast sharply against the green foliage, and the yellow coloring doesn’t fade as the plant matures like other cultivars. This is a very hardy plant that will thrive with little attention from you, and the blooms produce a heady, sweet fragrance from spring until fall. The American Rose Society awarded this shrub rose as one of their most excellent varieties.
This plant is also extremely adaptable, and it’ll grow well in all sizes and types of gardens. You won’t have to worry so much about removing spent blooms as these are self-cleansing plants that come back year after year. You don’t even need to prune them unless you want to shape them before fresh blooms come out in the springtime. They don’t get over four feet high at full maturity, and they need a minimum of six hours of sunlight each day when you grow them in zones four to nine.
15. Peach Drift Rose
As the name suggests, this shrub rose offers soft peach-colored flowers that will soften out your garden’s look. Once you plant it and it takes off, you can enjoy these flowers for nine months out of the year from spring until well into fall. This is a dwarf shrub that will spread across the ground around it in a linear pattern, and this can help you get coverage in small or large spaces. It only gets a few feet off the ground at full maturity.
Drift roses are fantastic cultivars to have at your home, and they can survive in all season conditions because they’re winter-hardy and drought-tolerant. However, they also love being in direct sunlight all day long, and this will also help to reduce how much maintenance you have to do to keep them healthy. Once it starts to grow, it’ll decorate the landscape for years to come.
16. Red Braveheart Shrub Rose
Red is the symbol of love, and it has strong ties to various shrub roses. This particular cultivar comes in a very deep red shade with a velvety texture that is pleasing to touch. It’s a very mildly fragrant plant to put in your garden beds, containers, or borders, and it’ll grow more slowly to help fill in the space. As a bonus, it makes a stunning cut flower for bouquets.
This is a double bloom shrub rose variety that will start flowering in the early spring months and continue on until the first frost of the season. It’s a deciduous shrub that will get between three and four feet high, and it’ll get roughly four feet wide. They’re very resistant to viruses and diseases, and if you live in zone 5 to 10, you’ll get low-maintenance requirements with prolific blooms all season long.
17. Red Rugosa Rose
This very disease-resistant and hardy plant adds dynamic energy and looks to any setting. This shrub rose can tolerate various soil types without any damage, including dry and sandy with strong winds and a salty spray. The rich green coloring on the foliage looks beautiful during the blooming season, and the small red flowers with yellow stamens contrast nicely with the green coloring. This is a very low-maintenance shrub, and this is what draws people to it. They have spiny upright stems, and they’re slightly taller than other rose shrubs as they can get up to six feet tall. The spread is usually between three and five feet.
As we mentioned, rugosa means wrinkled, specifically the foliage. The foliage will turn to orange, red, and yellow hues in the fall months. You’ll also see large blooms, and the reddish-orange rose hips are something you can take to make tea, jellies, and jams. It’s also a beautiful cut flower.
This ground-cover type of shrub rose offers clusters or hot pink flowers. It also looks pretty trailing over walls or in rock gardens, and you’ll get very fragrant double blooms throughout the growing season. This flower has been the recipient of several awards, including the Glasgow Certificate of Commendation in 1994 and the Certificate of Merit in 1991 from the Royal National Rose Society. It’s disease resistant, thrives down to planting zone four, and it doesn’t get over a foot tall.
19. Yellow Rose Rosa Bush
The final shrub rose on the list is a happy yellow coloring. It symbolizes prosperity and friendship in several cultures, and it’s a repeat-bloomer that will keep the space looking cheerful and bright through the late spring, summer, and fall months until the first hard frost sets in.
It’s a very low-maintenance plant that doesn’t need a lot of water, and they grow best when you plant them in part shade or sun conditions. At maturity, this shrub rose will only get up to four feet tall, and it’s a cold-hardy cultivar that does well in zones 2 to 11. They work as cut flowers, and they can stay vibrant for up to two weeks after you cut them. They work well as dried flowers too.
How to Care for Shrub Roses
All shrub roses will do well in full sun if you plant them in a soil that drains well, but some can go in partial shade or partial sun. Most can survive brief drought conditions, but you shouldn’t let them stay dry for weeks on end. Instead, water them whenever the top inch of soil dries out. A lot of them will continue to bloom if you don’t deadhead them, but deadheading will encourage more flowers. For a second or third flush, deadhead your shrub roses.
You want to prune your flowers back in the early spring each year. Cut the plant’s canes back to roughly a foot or two above the ground and remove any diseased or dead canes. Thin out any rubbing or crossing canes at this time. In the fall, it’s possible to lightly trim the shrub back if it looks overgrown, but wait until spring for the hard pruning session.
These 19 different types of shrub roses can make eye-catching cultivars in your garden or on your patio as a container plant. Many of them emit a very sweet scent, and you can find ones with and without thorns. We invite you to mix and match shrub roses to get a colorful, fragrant, garden all season long.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.