Roses – How Much Sun is Enough?

Roses need an open sunny position to grow best. A minimum of 5-6 hours a day of full sun is required for their optimum growth. Roses produce a prolific amount of flowers which take a great deal of energy from the rose plant. In order to keep replenishing this energy the rose needs plenty of light energy from the sun, which it then converts to chemical energy that it uses for its growth, through the process of photosynthesis. So you can appreciate why an open, sunny position is a must for your roses’ optimum development and flower production.

If the rose is in shade for too many hours a day, it will become spindly, produce very few flowers, and be prone to disease and pest attack. If you do happen to have lots of shade you may be better off planting another type of plant more suited to shadier conditions. If you still want to try roses, you could grow some smaller rose varieties in pots that you can then move about to the sunnier positions around your home or grow some rose varieties that will tolerate partial shade.

I personally don’t have any experience of growing roses in shade, however from various books I’ve read and websites I’ve visited, I am happy to provide a list of rose plants that are described as having partial shade tolerance

Alba Roses

Mme. Plantier

Maiden’s Blush

Königin von Dänemark

Bourbon Roses

Bourbon Queen

Mme Isaace Pereire


Eden Climber ‘Meiviolin’ (aka ‘Pierre de Ronsard’)

Golden Showers


New Dawn

Zephirine Drouhin

Damask Rose

Mme Hardy

David Austin Roses

Fair Bianca ‘Ausca’

Mary Rose ‘Ausmary’

Floribunda Roses


Gruss an Aachen


Jubilee Celebration

Knock-Out ‘Radrazz’

Marmalade Skies



Passionate Kisses ‘Meizebel’

Hybrid Musk Roses


Buff Beauty






Lavender Lassie



Hybrid Teas

I personally wouldn’t grow any hybrid tea roses that you couldn’t provide with 5 -6 hours of full sun, though these were suggested.

Double Delight

Eiffel Tower



Mr. Lincoln

Noisette Roses

Blush Noisette

Mme Alfred Carriere

Polyantha Roses

Cecile Brunner


The Fairy

Rugosa Roses

Blanc Double de Coubert


Shrub Roses

Cerise Bouquet


Constance Spry

Pearl Drift

Species Roses

r. banksiae lutea

r. Eglantine ‘Amy Robsart’

r. filipes ‘Kiftsgate’

r. moyesii

r. spinosissima

6 Comments so far

  1. Pat on May 16th, 2010

    I have a climbing rose. suppose to be a (Queen Elisabeth). It is growing rapidly but has only had 4 roses on it. It gets plenty of water and sun. I fertilized with rose feed and phosphorus. What am I doing wrong….thanks

  2. admin on May 17th, 2010

    a climber can take 3 or more years to start producing a lot of flowering growth, so if it’s a new plant that could be why you’re only getting a few flowers. Also you need to bend the main canes as horizontally as possible to encourage them to develop the side shoots that future flowers will grow from. The flowers bloom from these side shoots which are produced when the climbers main canes are tied as horizontal as possible to their support.If climbers are left to grow straight upwards they don’t develop many side shoots so not many flowers will develop. It sounds like you’re doing everything else right. Feed with rose food every 6 weeks in the growing season (Spring to Autumn)it shouldn’t need the extra phosphorus if you’re using rose food and make sure soil drains well.

  3. cindy atkins on April 26th, 2011

    I have a climbing rose growing in an odd little corner of my porch where it gets plenty of sun, etc. Problem is, it is encroaching on my driveway and the thorns are scratching my car so I’d like to either move it to another location entirely or train it to grow along the roofline of the porch, which would mean that a good portion of the plant would then be in shade. Which would you advise . . moving or training it into more shade?

  4. admin on May 30th, 2011

    Hi Cindy
    If the rose is going to be in shade, it’s not going to grow robustly, so your only option is to move it.

  5. Joe on June 15th, 2011

    I am growing Knockout roses and have been able to plant cuttings and grow them indoors. When should I move them outside? Also, I noticed the larger plants that are outside don’t always produce mutible blooms like they had when I purchased them. Any reason why?

  6. admin on June 17th, 2011

    Hi Joe
    It depends on your climate zone. Spring it probably the best time to plant them out but if spring has passed in your hemisphere then you could plant them out now if you have a mild summer. Otherwise it may be best to wait til early autumn. Re your established larger plants; you could try giving them a light prune and fertilizing them with a quality rose food according to the recommended feeding directions. They should come back with plenty of blooms in around 6 weeks time.

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