I Saw The Light

sunlight on rose

{photo credit: unknown}

You may have heard the expression, “I Saw The Light!”, but before you start buying and planting roses or any plant for that matter, you may want to get familiar with the light your yard receives. It would be a shame to invest in some beautiful rose bushes only to have them succumb to disease or poor performance due to lack of adequate sunlight. To take inventory of your real estate (which should be fairly easy if you live in the city and only own or rent a small parcel of land), investigate the following matters and make a chart or log (be sure any leaves on your trees are leafed out for better accuracy). Enlighten yourself by answering the following questions:

  • Does my yard get more morning light or afternoon light?
  • How many hours of direct sunlight is my garden getting in the morning or afternoon?
  • And what parts of my garden are in Full Sun, Partial Shade, or complete shade and at what times of the day? As the Earth orbits around the Sun, your garden will get different amounts of light at various times throughout the day.

Once you are familiar with your yard’s lighting or lack thereof, you need to understand the lighting requirement terms listed by the rose vendors on each rose. As mentioned previously, most roses need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight, but others can flourish in partial shade. Although there are a few different lighting and shade classifications in gardener’s parlance, the two labels you will find among rose listings are “Full Sun” and “Partial Shade”.


“Peace” taken by Carrie Renee Turner

Full Sun: Means your rose bush/plant will get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. This is ideal for growing roses particularly if your yard receives the most Full Sun in the morning. Full morning sunlight is especially advantageous as it will burn off early morning dew or rain that fell over night; therefore, helping to prevent disease. It’s also better for them to get Full Sun in the morning hours so as to not potentially cause heat exhaustion in you and your roses! Another Pro to exposing your rose bush to Full Sun, whether in the morning or afternoon hours, is it will allow for bigger and more frequent blooms. A Con would be you will need to water more frequently (more on that in a later blog) and the intensity of your bloom’s color may fade sooner.

Partial Shade: Means your rose bush/plant will get somewhere between 3-6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Note: Although most modern roses do best in Full Sun, there are some that do well in Partial Shade. Old Garden Roses (OGRs) can do OK in Partial Shade as well. The Pros to Partial Shade is your bloom’s color will last longer and so will it’s fragrance.


{photo credit: unknown}

Another Pro is your bush won’t need to be watered as often nor get scorched by the afternoon heat. Cons to planting rose bushes in Partial Shade would be your bush may not reach it’s potential by becoming more prone to disease; it may be more spindly as canes try to reach adequate sunlight; and blooms may be fewer and smaller. Nevertheless, if your yard space is limited, you may discover some roses can flourish just fine. To find shade tolerant roses, check out Heirloom Roses’ suggestions.

Overall, when planting roses, be sure you can say, “I Saw The Light”.