HG: Homegrown Column March 14, 2009

I have a question about rose bushes; our trees have grown and shade the rose beds too much. Are there any shade-tolerant rose varieties that you could recommend for Grand Junction? Please give examples suitable to the elevation and sandy soils of the Redlands and Glade Park, also.
Thank you, Arlys

Well, you’ve asked a difficult question. There aren’t a whole lot of roses that do well in the shade. Miniature roses and some climbing, antique and shrub roses are usually fairly shade tolerant, as roses go. The key word here is tolerant. Most roses require five to six hours of full sun a day. 

Another part of the equation is how much shade is there. Not all shade is created equal. There’s shade and then there’s SHADE. A rose might do OK with bright, dappled shade but fail miserably with full, dark, unrelieved shade.

The important thing to keep in mind is to try to give the plant as much light as possible by planting it out on the brighter edge of a shady patch or even doing some judicious pruning of your trees to allow a bit more sunlight to penetrate below. The one bit of advantage we have here over other parts of the country is that our sunlight is so bright and intense because of the clear air, low humidity and altitude that we can grow roses with a bit more shade than is commonly recommended.

Having said all that, there are a few rose varieties that do OK in partial shade. Keep in mind that you will not find a rose variety that thrives in full, dark shade. For areas like this, you’re better off abandoning the dream of roses and switching over to a more shade-tolerant plant. 

Another thing is that no matter which variety you choose, roses will bloom less, even in partial shade. Anyway, here’s a list of some varieties I’ve gleaned from my sources and from my own experience in my now shady backyard (just like yours).

Hybrid teas: There aren’t many that will tolerate shade, but some I came across are: Granada, Mister Lincoln, Honor, Garden Party, Just Joey, Voodoo, and Peace.
Floribundas: Angel Face, Betty Boop, Iceberg, French Lace, and Playboy.
Rugosas: F.J. Grootendorst, Grootendorst Supreme, Hansa and Therese Bugnet.
Climbers: Golden Showers, White Dawn, Altissimo, Cecile Brunner, New Dawn, Flutterbye, Blaze, and Fourth of July.
David Austin’s English Roses: Abraham Darby, Glamis Castle, Golden Celebration, Graham Thomas, Heritage, and Othello

Shrub Roses: Ballerina, Golden Wings, Lady Banks Rose, Carefree Wonder, Carefree Delight, Flower Carpet, Pink Meidiland, Scarlet Meidiland, Knock Out, Red Leaf Rose, Topaz Jewel, and The Fairy.

Any of these will grow well with the soils common on the Redlands and up on Glade Park. Just do the usual soil preparation before planting by mixing in a good amount of Soil Pep or compost with your soil. And honestly, I’m not so sure you’ll see a lot of difference in winter hardiness between the two areas. Glade Park, being higher, often gets colder in the winter than the valley, but when we set up those frigid inversions down here in the valley, Glade Park is warmer. I think it probably all evens out.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, online at http://www.bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; e-mail info@book


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