Shrub Rose

By: C. Colston Burrell
Shrub rose is a term used to define a wide variety of blooms in the rose family. See more pictures of roses.

Shrub roses are a vast, hard-to-define group of plants is mostly made up of "leftovers"; that is, roses that don't fit into other categories. Many are "improved" versions of species roses, bearing double flowers or blooming repeatedly. Others result from crossing species roses with bush roses. Many different subclasses could be defined, but the two most obvious are the typical shrub roses with tall, arching canes, and the creeping ground cover roses.

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Description of shrub roses: Shrub roses are generally tall (4 to 12 feet), shrubby plants that produce numerous arching canes. Their flowers can be single, semi-double, or double and are borne singly or in clusters both at the ends of the canes and on side branches. Many bloom only once -- but very heavily -- in the spring, but others are repeat bloomers. Ground cover roses are similar, but they grow flat against the ground, rooting as they grow and covering large areas over time. Both types often produce colorful red, orange, or yellow hips.

Planting shrub roses: Space about 4 to 6 feet apart, closer when grown as hedges.

Special needs of shrub roses: Most commonly available shrub roses are fully winter hardy. Pruning for the most part consists of pruning any winter kill and removing older canes in spring. Unlike most roses, shrub roses should not be deadheaded, or they will not produce their attractive fruit (hips).

Propagating shrub roses: Most shrub roses can be readily multiplied by division or cuttings.

Uses for shrub roses: Shrub roses are unrivalled for use in privacy hedges and shrub borders, and many are excellent in seashore plantings. They are grown for both their flowers and their hips, which are rich in vitamin C and are used in cooking, medication, and flower arrangements. The hips also attract birds during the winter.

Varieties of shrub roses: Repeat-blooming shrub roses: Blanc de Coubert, white, semi-double; F. J. Grootendurst red, double; Golden Wings, light yellow, single. Ground cover roses: Max Graf, pink; Sea Foam, white.


Want more information on gardening and great flowers you can grow? Try:

  • Roses: Learn everything about these sophisticated, breathtaking blooms.
  • Rose Gardens: Find out how to keep your rose garden healthy, and discover dynamic arrangements you can create in your own backyard.
  • Garden Types: There are many ways to cultivate a lush oasis around your home. Read about all the different types of gardens you can create.
  • Gardening: Get great tips on how to keep your garden healthy and thriving.