What Is A Shrub Rose Bush: Learn About Different Shrub Roses

Image by Stan V. Griep

By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District

Flowering shrubs have been around for quite some time and grace many landscapes all over the world. One part of the grand list of flowering shrubs is the shrub rose bush, which varies in height and width of spread much the same as other rose bushes.

What is a Shrub Rose?

Shrub rose bushes are defined by the American Rose Society (ARS) as “A class of hardy, easy-care plants that encompass bushy roses that do not fit in any other category of rose bush.”

Some shrub roses make good ground covers while others work well to form hedges or screening in the landscape. Shrub rose bushes can have single or double blooms in many different colors. Some of the shrub rose bushes will bloom repeatedly and bloom very well while some others bloom only once a year.

Different Classes of Shrub Rose Bushes

The shrub category or class or roses is divided into many subcategories or subclasses such as: hybrid moyesii, hybrid musks, hybrid rugosas, kordesii and the large catchall grouping known simply as shrubs.

Hybrid Moyesii Shrub Roses

The hybrid moyesii shrub roses are tall and strong rose bushes that form beautiful red rose hips that follow their repeat blooms. Included in this sub-class are rose bushes named Marguerite Hilling Rose, Geranium Rose and Nevada Rose, to name only a few.

Hybrid Musk Shrub Roses

Hybrid musk shrub roses will tolerate less sun than other classes of rose bushes. Their clusters of blooms are typically very fragrant and bloom all season for the most part. Included in this sub-class are rosebushes named Ballerina Rose, Buff Beauty Rose and Lavender Lassie Rose.

Hybrid Rugosas Shrub Roses

The hybrid rugosas are very hardy disease resistant rose bushes that are low growing and typically have very full foliage. Their rose hips are valued as an excellent source of vitamin C. Among all roses the hybrid rugosas are the most tolerant of wind and sea spray, thus they are excellent for beach or seaside plantings. Included in this sub-class are rose bushes named Rosa rugosa Al, Therese Bugnet Rose, Foxi Rose, Snow Pavement Rose and Grootendorst Supreme Rose.

Kordesii Shrub Roses

The kordesii shrub rose bushes are twentieth century rose bushes created by German hybridizer Reimer Kordes in 1952. They are low growing climbers with glossy foliage and truly exceptional hardiness. Included in this sub-class are rosebushes named William Baffinn Rose, John Cabot Rose, Dortmund Rose and John Davis Rose.

English Roses

English roses are a class of shrub rose developed by English rose breeder David Austin. These wonderful, often fragrant, roses are also known as Austin Roses by many Rosarians and have an old fashioned rose look to them. This class includes rose bushes named Mary Rose, Graham Thomas Rose, Golden Celebration Rose, Crown Princess Margareta Rose and Gertrude Jekyll Rose to name a few.

Some of my favorite shrub roses in my rose beds are:

  • Mary Rose and Golden Celebration (Austin Roses)
  • Oranges ‘N’ Lemons Rose (pictured above)
  • Distant Drums Rose

These truly are hardy and beautiful rose bushes that can be used in varying ways in your rose beds or general landscaping. The Knock Out roses are shrub rose bushes as well.

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