Shrub roses

Favorite varieties and care essentials

Popular shrub rose varieties
Photo: Tom Wyatt

Roses are perhaps the most beloved of all flowers, esteemed throughout history for their form, color, and fragrance. Until fairly recently, gardeners tended to focus on hybrid teas, elegant modern roses featuring a stylish bud on a long stem. Lately, though, old roses ― historic classes such as alba and damask, Bourbon and China ― have made a strong comeback. Popular, too, are the shrub roses developed by modern breeders, rugged plants that function as shrubs in the landscape and offer the bonus of beautiful, long-lasting bloom.

Of course, you don't need to study the history of roses or distinguish between the many forms to appreciate these marvelous flowers. To enjoy them to the full, though, do aim to include an assortment of types in your garden. The choices shown below ― just seven varieties out of the thousands available! ― give a hint of what you'll find at nurseries and in catalogs. Most nurseries carry a fair selection of hybrid teas and other modern roses. Old roses, too, are being offered ever more frequently; if your local nursery doesn't stock them, ask for the names of mail-order suppliers.

Seven popular shrub rose varieties

'Ballerina' (1937)
This is a mounded shrub to 4 feet high and wide (sometimes larger in warmer climates), covered throughout the growing season in single, white-centered pink blossoms. The glossy, elongated leaflets are disease resistant. Classed as a hybrid musk, 'Ballerina' is considered by many to be just the type of rose more and more gardeners are looking for today ― a plant with an attractive shrubby shape as well as profuse bloom.


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