How to Grow Roses in the Shade

Overview

It is possible to grow roses in shade. It's definitely more work as you will need to coddle your roses to keep them thriving. Site preparation and proper planting is the first step to successfully grow roses in shade. You must also fertilize them frequently during the growing season and water them regularly. Pruning can become a bit of a hassle as roses that are planted in shade may either put forth very little new growth or compensate for the lack of sun by putting out a lot of spindly growth. You'll have to experiment to find the variety of rose that does well in shade in your region.

Step 1

Plant your rose where it receives morning sun and afternoon shade if possible. Ideally your rose should have at least 6 hours of full sun but roses can survive with as little as 3 hours of full sun. If you are planting under trees choose a spot 18 to 24 inches from the tree trunk. Choose trees with tap roots like black locusts rather than shallow root systems like maples.

Step 2

Work 5 to 6 inches of compost or well-rotted manure into the top 12 inches of soil. If you are planting roses under trees try not to disturb the tree's roots.

Step 3

Do a pH test on the soil where you will be planting the roses. The ideal soil pH for roses is 5.5 to 6.5 but roses will tolerate a range of 5.0 to 7.0. Adjust the pH if needed by adding lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower the pH. Check and adjust the soil pH at least every other year.

Step 4

Dig a hole that is 12 inches deep and 18 inches wide. Mix compost or well-rotted manure into the removed soil until you have a mix of 2 parts soil and 1 part compost. Make a mound of the soil mix in the middle of the hole that is tall enough to place your rose at the right planting depth. Spread the rose's roots over the mound and backfill the hole with the rest of the soil mix.

Step 5

Give roses planted in shade more space than you would roses planted in sun. Spacing will vary with the variety (climbing, hybrid, etc.) but as a general rule give roses growing in shade 1 1/2 times more space than roses growing in full sun. The extra space will compensate for reduced air flow and help prevent disease.

Step 6

Fertilize roses planted in shade every 6 weeks from mid-spring through mid-August. Wait until your rose leafs before applying fertilizer. Use a balanced all purpose commercial or organic fertilizer like 10-10-10.

Step 7

Mulch roses with 3 to 4 inches of mulch. Use an organic mulch like shredded bark or wood chips.

Step 8

Give your rose at least 1 inch of water a week during the growing season (March through September). Roses planted under trees will need more water per week as nearby tree roots will absorb water. Monitor the soil around your rose and the rose itself. If the top 2 to 3 inches of soil is dry the day after you watered or your rose appears dehydrated, increase the amount of water you giving your rose.

Step 9

Prune roses growing in shade in spring as you would roses growing in full sun (see the resources section for a rose pruning guide). Remove dead, broken or diseased canes at anytime of the year.

Tips and Warnings

  • Roses growing in shade will produce fewer flowers than roses growing in full sun. Roses can not compete with tree roots. Avoid planting roses under trees with shallow roots. You should also avoid planting roses under trees with dense canopies. Instead choose trees with deep roots or taproots and open canopies.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost or well-rotted manure
  • Soil pH test
  • Lime or sulfur (if needed)
  • Balanced commercial or organic fertilizer like 10-10-10
  • Mulch
  • Water
  • Pruning shears

References

  • Alabama Cooperative Extension; Growing Roses
  • "Botanica's Roses, The Encyclopedia of Roses;" Margaret Olds, editor; 1998
  • University of Missouri Extension: Fertilizing Roses

Who Can Help

  • University of Illinois; Pruning Roses
Keywords: growing roses in shade, growing roses, roses, growing roses under trees