Shrub roses are among some of the most hardy and successful flowering shrubs for Colorado. Once established, they tolerate arid conditions, rebound nicely from hailstorms, are disease-resistant, and need little maintenance. Many bear scented flowers or rebloom throughout the growing season. Wild roses (Rosa woodsii) grow naturally throughout Colorado.
Plant shrub roses as single feature plants or as flowering hedges. All of the following roses are hardy at least to USDA zone 5 Front Range areas. Note that all roses are like deer prone – grow them in a protected or fenced area if deer roam your neighborhood.
White– The ‘Iceberg,’ is a five-foot-tall noted for its prolific, repeating flowers and spicy scent. For a shorter plant, try ‘Gourmet Popcorn.’ This well-perfumed, dwarf rose bears hundreds of miniature blooms from late spring through fall.
Yellow– The six-foot-tall ‘Sally Holmes’ has single, lightly-scented ivory-yellow blooms, borne on long stems. They bloom from spring through autumn. Another notable yellow single-flowering shrub rose is called ‘Golden Wings.’ For a double bloom, try ‘Graham Thomas,’ a scented variety. A yellow rose hardy in USDA zone 3 mountain areas is ‘Harrison’s Yellow.’
Pink – The fragrant ‘Banshee’ has10-foot canes, good for long-stemmed cut roses. Other quality pinks are ‘Applejack,’ and for higher elevations, ‘William Baffin.’
Red – ‘Dortmund’ has single roses that last longer than some other varieties. For high elevations, plant “Champlain” or ‘George Vancouver.’ Many English shrub roses developed by David Austin are so packed with petals they resemble peonies. Try “Othello” which produces medium-red blooms or “Tradescant,” for dark red flowers.
Rose hips – For long lasting, showy rose hips, consider Moyes rose, red-leaf rose and Virginia rose. Red-leaf rose is also known for its reddish-purple leaves and canes. Rugosa roses have fragrant blooms throughout the summer; although very thorny, they can be a show-stopper if sited in the right place. Consider ‘Purple Pavement’ or ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’ rugosas.
For more information, see the following Colorado State University Extension reference materials: