Hybrid musk roses thrive with less sun that other types

Some are shrubs, and some are climbers, however the most useful quality for modern gardeners is that, not only are they superbly disease resistant, but many are exceptionally tolerant of filtered shade, blooming well with as little as 5 hours of direct sunlight. Most can be used as pillar roses or as short climbers for walls and fences. I am growing several hybrid musk roses in no more than 4 hours of sunlight, mostly under large trees, and have been thrilled with the level of bloom. Since many individuals state that they cannot grow roses because there is too much shade in their yards, these roses are not only beautiful, but practical! One of the things I like about them is that, for the most part, they require little or no pruning.

Here's some plant clips that will help you guide your roses onto their trellis or pillar support.

Hybrid musk rose history

They came to us by way of England in the early 1900s. Hybrid musks are often overlooked as a class of rose for the garden, but they offer much. They are generally large (6+ feet) and have an arching habit. They have attractive leathery foliage and rebloom reliably through the summer in large trusses of small-to-medium-sized flowers with a strong fragrance.

There are several hybridizers who are known for these roses. The first and most ancient is the Reverend Joseph Pemberton. He was born in 1852 in Essex, England, and lived with his sister Florence until he passed away in 1926. An Anglican clergyman, his importance in the world of roses can hardly be overstated. A gifted roses grower and, more importantly, hybridizer, he was the president of the Royal National Rose Society for several years. The roses are well known: Ballerina, Danae, Cornelia, Kathleen, Moonlight, Pax and Penelope are widely available.

The next in importance is Ann Bentall, who worked with Pemberton, introduced some of his roses after his death, and developed roses of her own. Remarkably, a number of authors, who truly should know better, keep referring to Bentall as "he" since apparently, they cannot imagine a woman being a hybridizer in her own right. They are perhaps confused because she worked with her husband John. They inherited Pemberton's rose garden. Ann in particular had worked for many years by his side and introduced roses on her own. She is responsible for the breeding of Buff Beauty, the Fairy (probably the most popular polyantha musk rose of all time), Autumn Delight, and Ballerina.

The third is Louis Lens who is comparatively very modern. A Belgian who lived from 1924 to 2001, his history is interesting. He bred many famous roses that were in fact hybrid teas. 'Pascali', which is a Hall of Fame winner, is probably the most outstanding example. He then turned largely to hybrid musks, spending over two decades breeding them.

'Ballerina' rose


This delightful award-winning rose was hybridized by Ann Bentall in 1937. This is one of the best known and readily available of all of the hybrid musk roses, and with good reason. Incredibly reliable, I am growing three of these roses in no more than 4 hours of sunlight. They are under trees. I purchased them because of their beauty and shade tolerance and I find that it in fact blooms regularly in low light. It is a rounded shrub with quite large sprays of single pink flowers with white interiors. The flowers are small at 2 inches, but the number of them makes quite an impact.

It is the unusual combination of delicate and vigorous. At the end of the season, it reaches 5 feet in height and produces tiny red hips. It is zone 5 hardy.

hybrid musk rose

hybrid musk rose

Guirlande d'Amour

This is a little-known but unique climbing hybrid musk by Louis Lens. The name means Garland of Love, and I acquired it last year, placing it on a short trellis in a mostly shaded area. This remarkable rose is covered throughout the entire growing season with a succession of small white flowers. Unlike many climbers, it is dense, and so the structure on which you place it is covered in blooms. Introduced in 1993, this white climber with a pleasant fragrance has 12 to 16 petals and the flowers are about 1.25 inches in diameter but their vast numbers represent a cloud of bloom because it forms a fairly substantial bush in addition to climbing. which repeats in flushes throughout the season to quite late in the year.

It is zone 5 hardy.

Here's a 6 foot rose tower that is perfect for many climbers.

bouquet parfait

Bouquet Parfait

Lens introduced this stunning rose in 1989. Its blooms are double and globular and come in very large clusters, and can be grown as a shrub or a climber. Its scent is mild, but it is completely disease-resistant, a quality very important to Lens. The color is light pink to white; the individual flowers begin as white with pink edges and then turn pinker as the sizable clusters mature. Its name is derived from the fact that the lovely clusters form what seem to be perfect little bouquets. The flowers have a two-inch diameter. It blooms in flushes all season.

It is shade tolerant, preferring its sun in the morning. It is 4 to 6 feet high and wide and is hardy in zones 5a to 10b.

penelope rose


Pemberton introduced this very pretty rose in 1924. It blooms in large trusses. They start out as soft pink and have golden centers. The flowers later fade to white. Penelope is known for its health and strength. It's pretty husky. It will also tolerate some shade and poor soil. In warmer areas it can be grown as a climber. Massive clusters of large, pale pink, semi-double flowers fading to peaches and cream adorn this chunky shrub during the growing seasons. In the fall, it forms orange-pink hips that can weigh it down in fall and winter. If you are seeking a hedge that matures quickly, this is a great choice. The literature states that it is hardy in zones 6-11.

pink roses

pink roses


This versatile plant can be grown as a shrub or a climber. As a shrub, it is 4 to 7 feet. As a climber, it can reach 8 to 10 feet. It has apricot flowers that move on to cream. They are very double and exude a strong scent. It's a great cut flower. It can actually be grown in a large container and is pretty enough to be a specimen, with its fully double flowers. It is hardy in zones 6 to 10, making it one of the more tender hybrid musks.

rose 'Prosperity'


Hybridized in 1919, this rose actually has a tea rose as a parent. That rose, Perle de Jardins, is credited with the scent of this rose. Penelope has pink buds that are followed by double white flowers, and can be grown as a climber, which would be more advantageous because the clusters are so large that they tend to bend.
It is 5 to 7 feet as a shrub, can reach 8 to 10 feet as a climber. The zone for this rose is listed as 6 to 11.
pink roses

Introduced and registered by Ann Bentall in 1931, when she discovered it, this shade-tolerant sport of Prosperity has an arching shape It handles poor soil like a champ, and can be trained to climb.

The stems are strong and support the large clusters well. They have many 2 inch flowers that are light pink on the outside and then give way to a darker shade. They have many small petals, of which the outer ones are blush pink and the remainder clear pink with deeper shadings. It is useful in borders and for hedging, growing very vigorously with an upright habit. It is hardy in zones 4-9 and has a mild fragrance. It is roughly four feet by four inches, unless grown as a climber, in which case it is quite a bit taller.

'Cornelia' rose


Hybridized by Pemberton in 1925, in conjunction with the Reverend Joseph Hardwick, this disease-resistant highly scented beauty can grow 8 to 10 feet as a climber in a warm climate, or kept shorter and grown as a shrub. it's two-inch fully double flowers are a pink blend. It is also shade tolerant. Rebloom is very good, and the autumn bloom is particularly vigorous. It has a good scent and, to top it off, is nearly thornless.

Here's an organic rose food that comes in a box instead of a single-use plastic container.

yellow rose


Hybridized by Pemberton in 1918, again in conjunction with the Reverend Joseph Hardwick. Daybreak has clumps of small semi-double light yellow flowers accented with darker yellow stamens, with the flowers aging to cream. It is quite unusual in that it possesses reddish-brown foliage that later turns dark green. The fragrance is said to be rich and delicious. It is noted that this rose is vigorous, yet easily managed.

It blooms repeatedly, with a height of five to six feet, and is nearly thornless.

white roses with bee


Bred in 1013 by Pemberton, this is one of the first hybrid musks, and is often regarded as one of the best. It possesses a strong fragrance, and has very large clusters medium to large semi- double blooms that are creamy white and open to yellow centers. The foliage on this rose is a glossy green forming a striking contrast to the flowers. It does repeat only occasionally.

It is quite a large rose, growing 4 to 8 feet with a width of 8 to 12 feet. The zone is listed as 6b to 10b.

With the ability of many hybrid musks to bloom well in shade, and combining the scent and disease resistance and easy care, surely there is a hybrid musk suitable to most gardens.

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