What are Shrub Roses?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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Shrub roses are often defined as roses which do not fit into any of the other classifications of rose types. This “mixed bag” of roses tends to include roses with a shrublike growth habit, but shrub roses can vary considerably in mature size, composition, hardiness, and coloring. Many nurseries sell shrub roses along with other types of rose plants and can order specific varieties by request. These roses can also be propagated from cuttings or divisions of mature plants.

Generally, shrub roses are well known for being hardier than other rose types. They usually do not require grafting on to hardy rootstock, and tend to thrive between USDA zones five and ten. Some varietals will grow outside this range, and a nursery can provide specific advice for a particular area. People who are not sure about what zone they are in can ask other gardeners for help or get advice from a nursery or garden store employee.

Typical shrub roses reach between three and 12 feet (one and four meters) at maturity. Some tend to be more like groundcovers, sprawling and rooting as they grow, while others have a more upright growth habit with long canes. Many shrub roses bloom profusely in the spring, and some are double bloomers with a second blooming period which occurs later in the growing season. Since many are hybrids with old fashioned varietals, it is also not uncommon for a shrub rose to have a strong scent.


These plants can be grown as standalone specimens in the garden, or cultivated to create a flowering hedge. Shrub roses are ideally suited to the production of hedges, and take well to pruning and training. Many also grow very quickly, for people who are interested in establishing a hedge as quickly as possible for aesthetic or privacy reasons. Their flowers come in an array of shapes and colors and they can often be mixed for a more diverse appearance.

When selecting a shrub rose, a gardener should make sure that the plant is suited for the area in which it will be grown. Different roses can have different nutrient, light, and water requirements and it is advisable to take note of any special needs before planting. Taking the time to prepare the ground well will also promote the healthy development of a strong rose plant. Many shrub roses can be largely left alone once they are planted, although if a specific shape is desired, pruning is advisable.



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