Modern Shrub Roses

Golden Wings, Smarty, Illusion

These are mostly roses of complex hybrid parentage. Their habits of growth can serve a wide range of purposes in the modern landscape. Many Shrub roses are rather large growers, handsome as accents in the mixed border or as specimens in the average garden, or used en masse in public plantings. Others are notable for their disease-resistant foliage, often glossy, luxuriant, and attractive in its own right. Increasingly, modern breeders are selecting for “ground-covering” qualities; that is, habits of growth that cover the ground well, limiting competition from weeds and grasses.

Shrub roses have perhaps been understood best in Europe where they have been looked upon as an extension of garden roses into the public landscapes, to adorn parks, urban open spaces and roadsides. As such, they must be, above all, healthy, reliable, and floriferous, which they are.


Our curator for Modern Shrub Roses is Susan Feichtmeier. See more about her on our Rose Curators page and read her article in our Newsletter, issue 19.

Modern Shrub Roses Habit

We break down the habits of these Shrub rose hybrids roughly according to their ultimate size (left to right).

  • (E.g., Sea Foam) Those that form spreading, more or less procumbent plants which grow wider than tall, usually by spreading their canes along the ground.
  • (E.g., Birdie Blye) Shrubs of modest height, generally spreading and arching, of relatively light wood.
  • (E.g., Autumn Bouquet) A taller, stouter-caned type, also spreading and arching, with open growth.
  • (E.g., Zitronenfalter) The very dense, upright and tall growers, often producing relatively light canes, closely spaced together. 
  • (E.g., Cerise Bouquet) Those massive, wide-spreading shrubs for which there is rarely room in the smaller garden, but that are impressive show-stoppers when given a location proportionate to their size.