Oso Easy Double Red™. Photo by: Proven Winners.
Roses have a reputation for being temperamental and difficult to care for. However, not all roses are created equal. Shrub roses are some of the easiest to grow and have the same beautiful attributes of classic roses—but without all the fuss.
Shrub roses come in a wide array of colors, from snowy white to deep purple. Though the flowers aren’t as showy as more traditional hybrid teas, shrub roses require far less maintenance and are more resilient. Newer cultivars have been bred for exceptional disease resistance, hardiness, and a greater number of blooms.
On this page: Basics | Planting | Pruning |Care | How to Choose the Right Shrub Rose | Shrub Rose Varieties | Landscaping Tips
- SHRUB ROSE BASICS
- HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SHRUB ROSE
- SHRUB ROSE VARIETIES
- SHRUB ROSE LANDSCAPING TIPS
Mounding bushy habit, 1 to 20 feet tall and 1 to 15 feet wide depending on variety.
Full sun to light shade; bloom is best in full sun.
Some bloom once in late spring to early summer, but many modern varieties have two or more flushes during the growing season. Some flower continuously from late spring until frost.
Attractive single or double-petaled flowers, sometimes fragrant, and come in nearly every color except green or blue.
Shiny or dull, green or blue-green in color, with elongated leaves that are pointed with a serrated edge. Branches can be thorned or thornless. Some varieties have attractive fall foliage in shades of red, orange, yellow or purple.
When the blooms are finished, many varieties develop berry-like fruit called hips, which can be red, orange, pink, or yellow.
All parts of rose plants are non-toxic to dogs and cats, though some pets can experience mild discomfort when ingesting any plants. Sharp rose thorns can cause internal injury.
The blooms and new growth on roses are appetizing to deer. Some rose varieties such as rugosas are less appealing because of the thorns or taste. All rose plants will benefit from protection from deer.
When to plant:
Plant during milder months of spring or fall to avoid heat or cold stress.
Where to plant:
Choose a sunny to lightly shaded site with fertile, well-draining soil that stays evenly moist.
How to plant:
- Loosen soil in the planting area 1-1/2 to 2 feet wide and deep. Work a generous amount of compost or cow manure into the soil.
- Dig a hole big enough to accommodate the root ball. Mix in a handful of bone meal to support root development.
- Place the plant in the hole and spread the roots out. The top of the root ball should be level with the surrounding soil surface.
- Fill in the hole, tamp down soil to remove air pockets, and water well.
- Note: If you live in a cold region and the plant is grafted, bury the graft a couple of inches below the soil to protect it from winter freeze.
Place plants 2 to 5 feet apart depending on the variety, and allow for adequate air circulation to help prevent moisture-borne diseases.
For bare root plants:
Soak roots in water for at least an hour to hydrate before planting.
Planting in containers:
- Choose a pot at least 15 to 20 inches in diameter and 18 to 24 inches deep, with adequate drainage.
- Fill the container with a good quality potting soil. Work in a cup of perlite for drainage and a cup of bone meal to support root development.
- Dig a hole big enough to accommodate the root ball and place so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.
- Fill in the hole and water well.
See more on how to grow roses in containers.
PRUNING SHRUB ROSES
Most shrub roses, especially modern varieties, bloom on new wood. These are best pruned in early spring before plants break dormancy or when new growth is just emerging. Wait until all danger of severe cold is past.
- Cut back the entire plant to about 3 feet high to make it easier to work on.
- Remove dead and diseased canes back to the base of the plant, as well as branches that cross.
- Take out branches that are smaller than the diameter of a pencil.
- Cut remaining canes back to 1 to 2 feet high, just above an outward-facing bud. This will encourage new branches to grow outward for a graceful, arching habit.
Pruning modern hybrids:
Some, such as Oso Easy®, need little or no pruning. Lightly shape as needed in early spring. To rejuvenate, remove one-third of older canes every 2 to 3 years.
Some, such as Gallica, musk, and rugosa, bloom on old wood and should only be pruned lightly in spring to avoid sacrificing flowers. Cut out dead and diseased canes as needed.
After the first blooms in late spring or early summer, cut branches just below the spent flowers to encourage rebloom. This can be repeated as necessary throughout the summer. Some modern varieties are self-cleaning, so deadheading is optional, though plants will generally bloom more and have a neater appearance if spent flowers are removed. For varieties with hips, cease deadheading in late summer to allow fruit to develop.
For more, see Pruning Roses: 8 Steps for Healthy Rose Bushes
SHRUB ROSE CARE
Oso Easy® Petit Pink. Photo by: Proven Winners.
Roses prefer fast-draining soil that is well-amended with rich organic matter. They do best with a pH level that is neutral to slight acidic, between 5.5 to 7.0, with 6.5 being ideal.
Amendments & fertilizer:
Roses are heavy feeders, though many shrub roses can get by with less fertilizer.
- For new plants: Wait several weeks after planting to begin fertilizing, and avoid harsher granular fertilizers during the first year.
- For established plants: There are many different fertilizers especially formulated for roses, so pick a type and fertilizing schedule that is right for you. Plants benefit from fertilizing in early spring to stimulate new growth. Continue fertilizing every 2 to 6 weeks depending on the type of fertilizer. Stop fertilizing 6 to 8 weeks before your average first frost date to avoid damage to new growth. Mulch in spring with 1 to 2 inches of compost or other organic matter to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and add slow-release nutrients.
For more, see How to Fertilize Roses.
Roses need a moderate amount of water to perform their best. Less frequent, deeper watering results in healthier roots. Plants should receive 1 to 2 inches of water per week, depending on conditions. Avoid overhead watering, which can contribute to fungal disease, such as powdery mildew. Irrigate new plants more frequently, 2 to 3 times a week, until established.
Diseases and pests:
Shrub roses, especially modern hybrids, tend to be more resistant to pests and diseases. Possible pests include aphids, mites, thrips, caterpillars, Japanese beetles, scale, nematodes and rose chafer. Diseases include black spot, powdery mildew, rust, verticillium wilt, rose mosaic, crown gall rot, and rose rosette disease.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SHRUB ROSE
For borders and landscapes:
Choose varieties that fit the scale of your landscape. Use as hedging, screening, in a mixed border, or as foundation plantings.
For slopes and hillsides:
Groundcover and smaller shrub roses are suitable for massing along a slope or hillside for erosion control.
Choose small-to-medium varieties and plant in containers that are big enough to accommodate the roots.
SHRUB ROSE VARIETIES
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Oso Easy Suñorita®
Photo by: Proven Winners
Oso Easy® — Buy now from Proven Winners
Mounding spreading habit, 1 to 4 feet tall and 1 to 5 feet wide
Late spring through fall
Pink, red, orange, yellow, coral, or bi-colored.
Single to semi-double flowers are produced nonstop on sturdy plants that are virtually carefree. Tolerant of different soils and exceptionally resistant to black spot and powdery mildew.
2022 National Rose of the Year:
Oso Easy Suñorita® (pictured)
At Last® rosa
Photo by: Proven Winners
At Last® — Buy now from Proven Winners
Mounding spreading habit, 30 to 36 inches tall and wide
Late spring through frost
Fully double blooms are exceptionally fragrant, adding romance and charm to any landscape. Lush foliage and nonstop bloom throughout the growing season.
Photo by: Traci Zientara / Shutterstock
Mounding bushy habit, 3 to 4 1/2 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide
Flushes of bloom occur from late spring to frost
Shades of red, pink, coral, yellow and white.
Bred for improved disease-resistance, ease of care and long bloom time. These tough roses perform well in most climates and their small-to-medium stature makes them a versatile addition to any landscape.
Easy Elegance® ‘Grandma’s Blessing’
Photo by: Millette Rejean D/Millette Photomedia
Mounding bushy habit, 2 to 6 feet tall and 2 to 7 feet wide
Repeat bloom from late spring to fall
Apricot, white, red, orange, pink, yellow, lavender, or multi-colored.
This newer series combines the beauty of hybrid teas with tough reliability. Oversized single to fully double blooms occur in waves throughout the growing season, with plants displaying superb disease resistance as well as heat and cold tolerance.
Photo by: Gustavo Tillman/Pixabay
Mounding spreading habit, 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide
Late spring to fall
Shades of pink, coral, orange, yellow, red or white.
This groundcover rose is low and spreading, making it a good choice for massing in the landscape or along banks for erosion control. These prolific bloomers produce clusters of up to 2,000 flowers on a single plant once established.
Home Run® rosa
Photo by: Proven Winners
Rounded bushy habit, 3 1/2 to 4 feet tall and wide
Late spring to fall
Red, pink, or a blend of pink and yellow.
This descendent of Knock Out® was bred for improved resistance to black spot and powdery mildew, truer flower color and continuous bloom from late spring until frost. Single-petaled flowers, which are self-cleaning, have a faint apple fragrance.
Carefree Wonder™ rosa
Photo by: master-J/Shutterstock
Carefree Wonder™ (syn. ‘Meipitac’)
Upright arching habit, 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide
June until frost
Pink and white.
Bred for reliability, hardiness, and disease resistance. Showy fragrant flowers, which are exceptionally large for a shrub rose, bloom profusely from late spring until fall. Attractive orange rose hips persist well into winter.
Photo by: Bonnie Taylor Barry/Shutterstock
Mounding spreading habit, 1-1/2 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide
Late spring to fall
Apricot, coral, white, yellow, coral, pink or red.
This smaller class of shrub roses combines the attributes of miniatures and full-size groundcover roses. Single or double flowers are self-cleaning, but can be deadheaded for a neater look.
Rosa rugosa ‘Hansa’
Photo by: photowide/Shutterstock
Upright bushy habit, 6 to 8 feet tall and 5 to 7 feet wide
June, with sporadic re-bloom into early fall
Rugosa roses are known for their toughness, reliability, and cold hardiness. ‘Hansa’ has oversized blooms with intense fragrance, along with glossy disease-free foliage and large attractive rose hips. Also known as beach roses for their tolerance of salt, wind, sand, and neglect.
There are many ways to incorporate shrub roses into your landscape. Here’s how:
- Mass a groundcover type along a slope or hillside as an attractive alternative for erosion control.
- Use a low-growing form as a lawn substitute or where difficult to grow grass.
- Plant a larger specimen in the middle or back of a mixed border to lend a neutral backdrop to surrounding plants.
- Plant a smaller variety along a pathway for a blooming hege.
- Site different colored varieties along your home’s foundation in combination with other flowering shrubs such as azalea, abelia and bluebeard that bloom in early spring or fall for continuous season-long color.
- Plant a larger variety such as rugosa rose as hedging along a property line for privacy.
- Medium-sized shrub roses can be planted in a row as a colorful divider between garden rooms.
- Plant a small-medium variety in a container and place as a focal point at your home’s entrance, on a patio or deck. Underplant with colorful annuals for an extra pop of color.
Rose Care: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Roses
Ideas for Designing a Rose Garden
Tips for Choosing the Best Garden Roses
In your rose garden design, give each rose a space as wide as the plant's mature height. For example, if a rose tag says the plant will reach four to five feet, give it 2 to 2.5 feet clearance on all sides. You'll also appreciate this liberal spacing when you need to prune your roses.What is the difference between a shrub rose and a bush rose? ›
Shrub roses are a large and diverse group of roses. They are usually larger than modern bush roses and have thornier stems, often with scented flowers. They may repeat flower or flower only once in summer. Many shrub roses are suitable for hedging as well as making excellent specimen plants.Can you shape shrub roses? ›
To shape the bushes, use hand pruners to selectively cut individual branches. Tough landscape roses, such as the popular Knock Out, can be sheared with hedge shears to shape them and encourage full, bushy growth. Even if your bushes are currently the right size, you should consider pruning them now.What should a rose garden look like? ›
A rose garden can be as simple as a single rose specimen interspersed with a few other plants. It can be as elaborate as a formal landscape embellished with hardscaping, arbors, seating, and statuary. Even smaller spaces can accommodate roses in containers, raised beds, or narrow side yards.How do I make a rose garden bed? ›
Remove the old soil to 450mm deep and replace it with healthy soil from another part of the garden. Dig in manure and well-rotted compost using a fork, watering lightly once a week in dry weather. Let the soil settle for up to six weeks before transplanting or planting roses in the revived area.Do shrub roses need pruning? ›
Shrub roses should always be pruned by cutting stems back to a healthy bud. After you cut, look for healthy white wood in the cut. If it is brown, continue to cut until you reach white wood.Are shrub roses easy to grow? ›
Shrub roses are some of the easiest to grow and have the same beautiful attributes of classic roses—but without all the fuss. Shrub roses come in a wide array of colors, from snowy white to deep purple.Do shrub roses need support? ›
Support old-fashioned shrub roses by placing poles around the plants and tying stems to them. Train climbers and ramblers up pergola poles, vertical pillars or an obelisk. Standard roses also need supporting – replace the original cane with a stronger stake and secure with tree ties.
Rose bushes love the sun and need to get a minimum of five hours of sunlight per day to perform at all. The more sunshine they can get, the better the rose bushes will perform. Water – Keeping your rose bushes well watered helps reduce stress on the overall bush, therefore contributing to bloom production.What is the best month to plant roses? ›
Roses are best planted in the spring (after the last frost) or in fall (at least six weeks before your average first frost). Planting early enough in fall gives the roots enough time to get established before the plants go dormant over the winter.
Roses need at least 2 gallons of water twice per week in the growing season. Watering in the mornings is always best as it will charge the rose with water before the upcoming hot summers day. Newly planted roses need more water as the become established.Should I deadhead shrub roses? ›
You should deadhead repeat-flowering shrub roses and once flowering shrub roses which don't produce hips. Do not deadhead hip producing roses if you want hips in the autumn/winter.How big does a shrub rose get? ›
The shrub roses are hardy, low maintenance varieties that grow to 6 feet tall and bloom all season. They come in single or double flowered forms in a multitude of shades of colors. This group of roses grows well next to other low growing shrubs or in a perennial flower border.How fast do shrub roses grow? ›
Planting them in the spring after the last frost will bring you blooms by summer. Most roses bloom six to eight weeks after planting, and once the bloom is off the rose, deadhead it and prepare for another round of blooms within six to eight weeks.How do you prepare the soil for a rose garden? ›
When creating a new rose bed, add 2 to 4 inches of organic matter to the area prior to tilling. This will help improve the soil condition for your roses. Generally, you can add one-part compost, prepared planting mix, or aged manure to two parts of your garden soil.Do roses grow better in pots or the ground? ›
Roses send down deep roots, so the taller the container, the better. The soil in pots heats up faster than garden soil, so clay pots are generally better than plastic since clay is slower to transfer heat from the sun into the soil.What is best soil for roses? ›
Roses are very adaptable and can be grown in almost any soil type given it is well drained, deep and full of humus (decayed organic matter). However, the best soils are those of a medium to heavy loam to a minimum of 35cm, over a good clay sub-soil.Do roses need special fertilizer? ›
There are special rose plant foods that are tailored to the higher phosphorus needs of roses, with an N-P-K ratio such as 18-24-16. But, you don't necessarily need to get a special fertilizer for your roses. You can also use a general complete fertilizer with a high phosphorus ratio, such as 5-10-5, 4-8-4, or 4-12-4.How do you prune an overgrown shrub rose? ›
How to Prune Overgrown Roses - YouTubeWhy are my roses growing so tall? ›
A Roses will grow tall and lanky if left unpruned. Not only do they look less attractive but the long stems are vulnerable to being caught by the wind, causing the whole plant to rock and loosen in the soil.
Deadhead for Best Blooms
One of the big perks of shrub roses is that they are meant to bloom continuously, keeping in flower all summer long and all the way until frost.
As long as you consistently remove the faded blossoms, your rose will continue to bloom throughout the summer.What is considered a shrub rose? ›
Shrub roses, also known as landscape roses, are a group of modern types including varieties that don't fall under any of the other available classifications. Basically, it's a catch-all grouping that includes ground covers, climbers, and everything in between.Do shrub roses repeat flower? ›
In general, most modern rose varieties repeat flower, including a generous selection of climbing and shrub roses, as well as some old varieties, like damask roses.Do shrub roses climb? ›
wide (2-5 m). Less vigorous, and more controllable, Climbing Roses are shrubs with long, arching, stiff stems that are well adapted to training on arches, arbors, obelisks, pillars, fences, trellis and walls. Most Climbing Rose varieties grow from 6-12 ft. long (180-360 cm) and will spread about 3-4 ft.Do all rose bushes need a trellis? ›
While nonclimbing varieties such as grandiflora, hybrid tea roses and shrub roses do not require a trellis, they benefit from its support, as some of these can reach 6 to 10 feet high and sometimes just as wide.Should I cut roses after they bloom? ›
While “repeat blooming“ roses should be pruned in very early spring, old-fashioned and heirloom climbing roses usually bloom on old growth, and should be pruned after they bloom. For all climbing roses, remove crossing or rubbing branches and clean up the long branches. Cut side shoots back to 2-3 inches.What happens if you don't deadhead roses? ›
Deadheading roses will keep them looking their best throughout the season. Faded flowers can make a plant look tatty and, after rain, they can turn into a soggy, slimy mess. This can encourage fungal infections that may lead to stem die-back.How do you make a rose bushy? ›
Cut out all the dead and damaged canes and any canes that cross or rub each other. Remove any branches that grow across the middle of the plant, which decreases the amount of sunlight and air circulation the inner part of the bush receives. Finally, remove any canes that are smaller than the diameter of a pencil.How often should you water roses? ›
Give your roses 1 to 2 inches of water each week -- in single watering session -- from early spring through fall. Increase the frequency to every three or four days in hot and dry weather. Porous soils will also benefit from additional deep soakings. 2.
Contrary to popular belief, February and March are excellent times to start planting roses. Many landscapers will wait until April and May to begin planting roses because this is when the plants are already in bloom, and many nurseries will get their stock of roses in around January and February.When should roses be cut back? ›
The best time to prune roses is in late winter or early spring, around the time new growth begins. This could be as early as January or as late as May, depending on your climate.How do you keep roses healthy? ›
Give them what they need– Generally speaking, roses require at least 6 hours of full sun a day (preferably in the morning), a well-drained and nutrient-rich soil, and moderate amounts of water. Water should only be applied directly to the root zone, not to the leaf surface.Do roses like coffee grounds? ›
Roses do like coffee grounds, but too much too close can give them a nasty nitrogen burn and can kill your roses. Never sprinkle coffee grounds right next to the plant.Do roses like full sun or shade? ›
Roses thrive on direct sunlight. For best results, a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight is recommended. However, even when planted against a north wall (meaning no direct sunlight) roses can still perform well.Should I remove rose hips? ›
So, yes, you should continue to remove the developing hips as you have in the past. It prevents the plant from wasting valuable resources producing fruit and seeds needlessly, and it encourages the roses to continue blooming.How far apart should shrub roses be planted? ›
Large shrub roses should be planted 30” to 36” apart. Each plant will cover an area of about 6 to 10 square feet. Small shrub roses should be planted 24” to 30” apart. Each plant will cover an area of about 4 to 6 square feet.WHere do shrub roses grow? ›
- Make sure the rose has some sun, ideally at least 4 hours of sunlight a day.
- Generally, the more sun the better. ...
- Ensure the rose has enough space, so that the roots do not suffer from intense competition from neighbouring plants, including trees and hedges.
All roses are perennials in their species- and cultivar-specific hardiness zones if they are planted properly and receive the right care. There are shrub roses, which tend to be wild, old garden roses or species developed before 1867, and modern roses, which include most hybrid tea roses and grandiflora roses.Can I plant 2 roses together? ›
We recommend planting at least 5-10 roses of the same variety, in a single line, to create the effect of one continous hedge. Plant the roses closer together than normal to form a continouus, dense line, overlapping them by half of their mature width.
The best time to prune roses is in late winter or early spring, around the time new growth begins. This could be as early as January or as late as May, depending on your climate.How do you make a rose bushy? ›
Cut out all the dead and damaged canes and any canes that cross or rub each other. Remove any branches that grow across the middle of the plant, which decreases the amount of sunlight and air circulation the inner part of the bush receives. Finally, remove any canes that are smaller than the diameter of a pencil.How do I look after my outdoor roses? ›
- Flowers in summer; with many repeat-flowering into autumn.
- Plants last for many years.
- They love sun, although some will cope in light shade.
- Plant them in rich, moist but well-drained soil.
- Ideally prune them annually.
- Deadhead to boost flowering.
- Make new plants by taking cuttings.
Roses send down deep roots, so the taller the container, the better. The soil in pots heats up faster than garden soil, so clay pots are generally better than plastic since clay is slower to transfer heat from the sun into the soil.Do you prune shrub roses? ›
Shrub roses should always be pruned by cutting stems back to a healthy bud. After you cut, look for healthy white wood in the cut. If it is brown, continue to cut until you reach white wood. Make your cuts at a 45-degree angle, about 1/4 inch above a bud.What happens if you dont prune roses? ›
But, whether you're new to rose growing (having followed our advice on how to grow roses), or already have an established rose garden, it's good to have some pruning skills up your sleeve. You see, roses are prone to disease and loss of shape if they aren't pruned regularly.What is the life expectancy of a rose bush? ›
Many of the modern roses will only live six to 10 years unless given exceptional care. Some species and climbing roses will live 50 years or more.
Roses are best planted in the spring (after the last frost) or in fall (at least six weeks before your average first frost). Planting early enough in fall gives the roots enough time to get established before the plants go dormant over the winter.Do roses need special fertilizer? ›
There are special rose plant foods that are tailored to the higher phosphorus needs of roses, with an N-P-K ratio such as 18-24-16. But, you don't necessarily need to get a special fertilizer for your roses. You can also use a general complete fertilizer with a high phosphorus ratio, such as 5-10-5, 4-8-4, or 4-12-4.Why are my rose bushes not full? ›
Most common reasons for roses not blooming:
Using too much fertilizer or applying too frequently. Nutrient poor soil. Pests such as aphids that extract sap for the developing flower buds. Too much shade (roses bloom to their best in full sun of at least 6 hours).