Shrub Roses

What is a shrub rose?  A shrub rose is any rose that does not fit into a traditional classification such as hybrid tea, floribunda, miniature or old garden rose. Recently “shrub rose” has incorrectly come to mean “hardy”.  In the Midwest shrub roses can be described as hardy, needing little or no winter protection or semi-hardy, requiring winter protection.  The semi-hardy roses include the roses of Dr. Griffith Buck, the English Roses of David Austin, the Romantica and Generosa Series.  Hardy shrub roses include the rugosas, many old garden and species roses and the Explorer and Parkland Series from Agriculture Canada.

Own Root versus Budded Roses

Own root roses are roses grown on their own roots, similar to most perennials.  Budded roses are roses that are grafted to a root stock.  If possible purchase own root roses.  If the top dies to the ground the roots should produce new canes. If budded roses die to the ground they usually do not come back.


Most shrub roses do not require as frequent spraying or fertilizing when compared to the modern roses such as hybrid teas and floribundas. For best results water well, fertilize sparingly and mulch heavily.

Winter Protection

Winter protection for semi-hardy roses begins at planting time.  To increase the survival rate of semi-hardy roses, plant the bush deeper than normal.  This will allow the garden soil to act as additional insulation.  Mulching the crown with leaves or straw will help your semi-hardy roses survive the Midwest winters.

Hardy and Semi-hardy

Semi-Hardy Shrub Roses

Griffith Buck Roses  Zone 5 some to Zone 4 with minimal winter protection

Applejack, single, pink, fruity fragrance, very hardy, large 6ft.

Aunt Honey, medium pink, mild fragrance, upright 5ft x 4 ft.

Earth Song, deep pink, large hybrid tea type flowers, disease resistant, one of the best, 4ft.

Folksinger, deep yellow when fully open, moderate sweet fragrance, 4ft. x 3 ft.

Hawkeye Belle, honeysuckle pink, fully double 40-45 petals, sweet fragrance,  hardy 4ft

Paloma Blanca, white large flower, mild sweet fragrance, 3ft.

Prairie Princess, salmon pink large flowers, large bush, 5-6ft.

Prairie Sunrise, orange gold with light pink, small bush 2.5ft

Prairie Sunset, orange yellow bicolor, upright, 5 ft

Queen Bee, deep cardinal red flowers, long spiny stems, 3 ft.]

Summer Wind, red buds open to vermillion single flower with orange and white center, 3 ft

Winter Sunset, golden yellow flowers with high center, strong fragrance, 4-5 ft.

David Austin English Roses

Abraham Darby, pink to peach blend cupped and quartered, fragrant, 5-5 ft

Constance Spry, the first English Rose, clear pink blooms on large strong canes, one time bloomer, 6-8

Gertrude Jekyll, fully double old rose blooms of bright pink, old rose fragrance, 6 ft

Graham Thomas, deep yellow, fully double, vigorous, slender and upright, one of the best of the English Roses. 6-7 ft

Tamora, Golden yellow with a touch of pink, fragrant, upright, bushy, 3 ft

The Miller, pink, peony like blooms, mrryh fragrance, upright, 5-7 ft.

Winchester Cathedral, white fragrant blooms, fairly hardy, 5 ft

Hardy Shrub Roses

Champlain, bright magenta blooms in clusters, slight mildew, 3-4 ft

Cuthbert Grant, velvety red flowers, strong sweet fragrance, bushy, very hardy, one of the best , 4 ft

DeMontraville, medium pink – 3-4 ft, Shade tolerant

Funny Face, pink blend 2-3 ft

Frontenac, bright pink flowers, bushy and hardy, excellent informal hedge, 4-5 ft

Hope for Humanity, deep rich red, tall, bushy, dark green foliage, 4-5 ft

Marie-Victoria, peach-pink flowers, long, arching canes, small climber, 5 ft

Morden Centennial, large deep pink blooms, strong, vigorous, a must have, 5 ft

Morden Snowberry, white flowers, excellent landscape plant, dies to snow line, 4 ft

Prairie Joy, brilliant pink blooms, upright, tall, disease resistant, very hardy, 5-6 ft

Simon Fraser, medium pink, 2-3 ft

Winnipeg Parks, rose red, tea fragrance, compact bush, 2-3 ft


Captain Samuel Holland, deep fuchsia blooms, dark green foliage, 8 ft

Henry Kelsey, med red flowers in clusters, requires support, 6-8 ft

John Cabot, deep pink to fuchsia, blooms profusely in spring, vigorous, 8-10 ft

John Davis, rich pink, profuse in spring, repeats in fall, 6-8 ft

Ramblin Red, red, 6-8 ft, Some dieback but returns well

William Baffin, iridescent pink, blooms in clusters, repeats, does not need support, 8-10 ft

This information is provided to you by the Minnesota Rose Society. For further information, visit our web site at