15 Roses With Beautiful Foliage

As we plant roses this season, let’s look beyond the blooms (just a little) to the complement of unique leaves. Colorful new growth, delicate leaf shape, and outstanding fall color bring added beauty to the rose garden. Join garden professional Katherine Rowe in exploring roses with beautiful foliage for multi-season interest.

beautiful foliage roses. Close-up of blooming roses 'Father Hugo' which feature gracefully arching stems with finely divided, fern-like leaves and is adorned with abundant, small, pale yellow, single-petaled flowers.


The beloved rose brings stunning blooms and rich fragrances to the garden, but their gifts don’t stop there. Roses also bring multi-season appeal with unique features like beautiful foliage, canes, thorns, and rosehips. 

As we plant roses this season, let’s consider the extended beauty of a rose selection with unique foliage added to the mix. A leafy rose makes a handsome specimen even when it isn’t in flower and provides an attractive backdrop when it is. 

Some roses with beautiful foliage boast outstanding fall color. Others pop with fresh and bright new growth or coppery-tinged leaves and shoots. Some classic beauties have abundant dark green, glossy, and leathery foliage. A few even have aromatic leaves. Fortunately for our gardens, there’s no shortage of roses with beautiful foliage.

Virginia Rose

Close-up of a blooming Rosa virginiana which features glossy, dark green, serrated leaves and produces charming pink flowers with five petals and prominent yellow stamens.
Native Virginia roses offer vibrant pink blooms and attract pollinators.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa virginiana
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6-10’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Virginia roses, native to North America, are shrubby, wild woodland roses with pink blooms on stout, hairy stems. Single deep pink flowers with bright yellow stamens bloom in summer. Flowers are large and showy and attract bees and other pollinators.

The leaves are dark green and glossy and provide beautiful fall color, turning yellow and red with cooler temperatures. Early rosehips in burgundy red give outstanding seasonal interest and attract birds and other wildlife. 

Virginia rose is a robust, ornamental native rose with a long bloom season. It is adaptable to a variety of conditions and is salt tolerant. Virginia rose forms a natural hedge and is perfect for the native garden, border planting, and cottage garden. It also provides excellent shelter for wildlife.

Swamp Rose

Close-up of a blooming Rosa palustris which displays slender, thorny stems with glossy, dark green, serrated leaves and delicate, single-petaled pink flowers with a cluster of yellow stamens.
Fragrant pink blooms and vibrant fall foliage attract pollinators.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa palustris
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3-6′
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

The native swamp rose features fragrant, single blooms in early summer. The flowers are a sweet light pink.

Attractive Leaves are medium to dark green in the growing season and become vibrant shades of red in the fall. Clusters of round, crimson hips accompany fall foliage.

Swamp rose is well suited to moist soils and tolerates sites that experience occasional water, such as ponds, lakes, marshes, and rain gardens. It’s ideal for naturalized garden areas and provides pollen, forage, and shelter for butterflies and other pollinators, birds, and small mammals.

‘Father Hugo’

Close-up of the flowering plant Rosa ‘Father Hugo’ which displays graceful arching stems with fern-like, finely divided leaves, adorned with clusters of small, single-petaled, pale yellow flowers.
Clusters of yellow flowers and delicate foliage brighten spring.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa hugonis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6-8’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

‘Father Hugo’ is a China rose with masses of yellow flowers and delicate foliage. Father Hugo (Hugh Scanlan) sent seeds of the plant from China to Kew Gardens in 1889.

In spring and summer, clusters of two-inch flowers line the upright, arching canes of Rosa hugonis. Compound leaves hold 5 to 13 leaflets, each under an inch with serrated margins. Due to the leaves and small blooms, the large shrubs have a fine texture. In fall, the foliage turns shades of brilliant red.

‘Father Hugo’ received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 1925. It’s a tough, hardy rose and an early bloomer in spring. Canes have many thorns, so let this specimen grow unfettered in the garden.

‘Thérèse Bugnet’

Rosa Thérèse Bugnet boasts tall, nearly thornless stems with bluish-green leaves and large, fragrant, double pink flowers.
Double pink flowers bloom repeatedly, filling the air with fragrance.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa ‘Thérèse Bugnet’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4′
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-10

This hardy beauty is a hybrid rugosa rose with vigorous growth, size, and flowering. Double pink flowers bloom in early summer and repeat flower through frost. Ruffly flowers are full of petals, showy and fragrant, and reach up to six inches across. 

‘Thérèse Bugnet’ carries narrow blue-green foliage on a dense, mounding shrub whose form resembles an old-fashioned damask. New leaves emerge a fresh, light green, creating a lovely contrast to the flowers. In the fall, foliage turns burgundy red. Striking red canes persist in the winter for added multi-season appeal.

‘Thérèse Bugnet’ grows five to seven feet tall and wide and is a good option for the back of the border. She’s extremely hardy and disease-resistant. Canes are nearly thornless with soft prickles (though this carefree rose doesn’t require much pruning). 

Rosa glauca

Rosa glauca exhibits striking purplish-red stems, bluish-gray foliage with red veining, and small, single pink flowers with a white center.
Silvery-blue foliage complements delicate pink blooms, enhancing garden beauty.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa glauca
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6-8’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-8

The true species Rosa glauca is a highly ornamental shrub rose with soft pink, single-petaled blooms. It is grown for its unique foliage and small pink flowers. The striking foliage is silvery-blue with overtones of plum-purple.

Slightly fragrant, starry flowers emerge in late spring. Abundant orange-red hips ripen in fall and persist into winter, along with burgundy canes to add winter interest.

Rosa glauca is a sturdy, disease-resistant plant with very few thorns. It makes an excellent specimen or small grouped planting at the back of the perennial border, woodland edge, and shrub border.

‘Tuscany Superb’

Rosa ‘Tuscany Superb’ presents sturdy stems, dark green leaves, and rich, dark crimson, double flowers with a velvety texture.
Fragrant magenta blooms attract pollinators to this robust gallica rose.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa ‘Tuscany Superb’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-11

This old garden rose bears fragrant, semi-double magenta and violet flowers that open to reveal yellow stamens – a favorite for pollinators. ‘Tuscany Superb’ is a gallica rose introduced in 1837 and is likely a sport of ‘Tuscany,’ similar in color and form (but ‘Superb’ has larger blooms and is taller).

Gallica roses, the ancestors of many modern roses, feature vigorous growth, flowering, and exceptional fragrance. These old garden roses are hardy and disease-resistant. ‘Tuscany Superb’ received the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit for its vigor and garden performance.

‘Tuscany Superb’ grows upright with abundant foliage. The new growth is striking against the deep blooms and mature foliage. Leaves emerge a pale chartreuse with a purple-red blush.

‘Tuscany Superb’ thrives in full sun and tolerates partial shade. Canes have few thorns.


Close-up of a lush bush of Rosa ‘Penelope’ which features robust, thorny stems, glossy green leaves, and clusters of semi-double, creamy white flowers with a hint of pink.
Award-winning ‘Penelope’ boasts large, fragrant white blooms from spring to fall.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa ‘Penelope’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-11

Rosa ‘Penelope’ is an award-winning beauty with showy bloom clusters and a long flowering season. Shell pink buds open to large, white saucer blooms in spring, repeating continually through fall. Flowers reach six inches across and have a strong hybrid musk fragrance.

‘Penelope’ has handsome foliage. Young leaves emerge with a coppery tint and become dark, glossy green as they grow. Ample foliage is dense on the rose’s shrubby form, making ‘Penelope’ a good option for hedging. 

‘Penelope’ makes a gorgeous specimen planting and accent in foundations, walkways, and the cottage garden.

‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’

Rosa ‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’ displays low, spreading stems, rugose, dark green leaves, and a single, silvery-pink flower with prominent yellow stamens.
A constant bloomer, it offers year-round beauty effortlessly.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa ‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’ is a rugosa rose hybrid with characteristic multi-season appeal. Like its shrub rose parent, it’s very hardy and disease-resistant but also tidier and less aggressive. More compact in form than the species, ‘Fru’ blooms spring through fall in showy, single-cupped flowers of delicate pink.

Foliage turns a striking bronze in the fall. The green leaves first turn burgundy red, tinged with deep metallic highlights.

’Fru Dagmar Hastrup’ is fast-growing and ideal for hedges, privacy screens, small groupings, and coastal and pond settings. Once established, this rose is salt, deer, and drought tolerant. This easy-to-maintain, nonstop bloomer puts on a show for all-season interest.


Rosa alba ‘Maxima’ boasts sturdy stems, grey-green foliage, and large, double white flowers.
A timeless beauty, ‘Maxima’ blooms reliably with captivating fragrance.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa alba ‘Maxima’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6-8’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-11

Rosa alba ‘Maxima’ is a centuries-old rose, cultivated in Europe since at least 1500. This old garden rose stands the test of time with hardiness and reliability. In spring, double blooms begin a pale blush and mature to creamy white against a backdrop of dense blue-gray foliage. Flowers carry an intensely sweet fragrance. 

‘Maxima’ is a sturdy rose that thrives in conditions that make other roses wither. It’s highly disease-resistant and tolerates poor soils and shade. The Royal Horticulture Society’s Award of Garden Merit recipient, ‘Maxima’ is a carefree rose with exceptional vigor in addition to its gorgeous blooms and fragrance.

Even when not in flower, ‘Maxima’ makes an attractive specimen or climbing feature when tied to a support structure, and nearly thornless canes make it easy to train. Enjoy showy rose hips that emerge in fall for winter interest. 

‘Cecile Brunner’

Close-up of a flowering rose bush ‘Cecile Brunner’ which features slender stems, small, glossy green leaves, and clusters of tiny, perfectly formed, pale pink double flowers.
A beloved classic, it thrives with grace and fragrance.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa ‘Cecile Brunner’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 20’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-11

Growers prize the historic ‘Cecile Brunner’ rose for its clusters of small, soft, silvery pink flowers and light honey fragrance. Its lovely rose blooms resemble miniature hybrid teas and emerge in abundance in the spring, with flushes through frost. New leaves are showy – small and red, becoming dark green.

The adaptable ‘Cecile Brunner’ tolerates poor soils and partial shade. The rose has a mannerly habit, making it an ideal climber for containers, pillars, and arbors, accommodating 20 feet at maturity. It’s nearly thornless, with strong stems.

‘Cecile Brunner’ is an Earth-KindⓇ rose rigorously tested for improved landscape performance and requiring little irrigation and no spray for pests and diseases. This conscientious, long-lived rose is also one of the easiest varieties to grow.

‘Caldwell Pink’

Close-up of a flowering rose bush ‘Caldwell Pink’ exhibiting bushy stems, dark green foliage, and clusters of small, double, pink flowers.
With its enduring beauty and resilience, it’s a garden gem.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa ‘Caldwell Pink’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6-9

‘Caldwell Pink’ is another Earth-KindⓇ rose with flushes of double pink carnation blooms in spring through frost. Small, narrow leaves are pointed and lend a tidy appearance to compact plants. Leaves turn yellow and red shades in the fall.

The rose was introduced into commerce in the 1980s after Dr. Bill Welch, horticulturist and professor at Texas A&M, found it growing in Caldwell, Texas. Some growers refer to it as the old China rose ‘Pink Pet,’ while others find it has multiflora characteristics. ‘Summer Carnation’ is another name.

‘Caldwell Pink’ is a disease and heat-resistant grower, adaptable to varying soils. It tolerates humidity with plenty of air circulation.

‘Petite Pink Scotch’

Rosa pimpinellifolia 'Petite Pink Scotch' presents slender, thorny stems, fern-like foliage, and small, double, soft pink flowers.
With its dainty blooms and resilience, it’s a garden favorite.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa pimpinellifolia ‘Petite Pink Scotch’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-11

‘Petite Pink Scotch’ is a tough ground cover shrub rose. Its fully-petaled button flowers measure less than two inches but hold 20 to 40 petals per bloom. In the spring, the ballet pink blooms cover the plants, a lovely specimen for cascading over a wall or as a low hedge.

When not in flower, the plants are handsome, with trailing stems and finely textured leaves. The leaves of ‘Petite Pink Scotch’ are delicate and fernlike. ‘Petite Pink Scotch’ tolerates full sun and dry garden areas and withstands various soil types.  

This petite, low-growing rose is unrelated to the Scoth rose, Rosa spinosissima. The Scotch rose also has attractive foliage but is entirely different. ‘Petite Pink Scotch’ is of garden origin and gets its name from historical associations. 

J.C. Raulston Arboretum learned about the rose from the Antique Rose Emporium. It was discovered growing in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1949 in an area historically settled by English and Scotch immigrants. Founders speculate that the settlers brought the rose with them, hence the name.

‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’

Rosa ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ features strong stems, lush green leaves, and large, double, blush pink flowers with a strong fragrance.
Renowned for its beauty, fragrance, and resilience, it’s a classic choice.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

A gorgeous Bourbon rose introduced in 1843, ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ boasts large, cupped blooms and high fragrance. Flowers in the prettiest shade of soft ballet pink hold more than 70 petals and open flat and quartered. Blooms recur from spring through fall.

‘Souvenir’ remains a favorite old garden rose, an award winner prized by rosarians as perhaps the best of the Bourbons. Large, leathery foliage makes a handsome backdrop, and showy rose hips emerge in the fall. Look for the climbing variety to make a pretty vertical element.

‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ is a vigorous, nearly thornless, hardy, and disease-resistant rose. Once established, it tolerates heat and periods of drought. ‘Souvenir’s’ only price to bear is that with such large blooms, heavy rain may impact the flowers, causing them to droop or fall. 

‘Sweet Briar Rose’

Sweet Briar Rose displays arching, thorny stems, bright green, apple-scented leaves, and simple, pink flowers with prominent yellow centers.
Fragrant leaves add allure, even when blooms are absent.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa rubiginosa
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6-10’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

The aromatic foliage is not commonly associated with roses, but the sweet briar rose shows us otherwise. Its leaves smell like green apples, especially noticeable in the heat of summer or after a summer rain. So even when not in bloom, this rose is fragrant.

Dark green, deeply serrated leaves give a lush backdrop to single-petaled pink and white blooms in May and June. In the fall, orange to scarlet rose hips emerge. Rosa rubiginosa is a vigorous grower to the point of naturalizing and is invasive in some areas.

Another rose with scented leaves is Rosa primula, or incense rose. In spring, lemon-yellow blooms cover this species rose and fade to white as they age. The aromatic foliage is glossy and ferny.

‘Carolina Rose’

Rosa carolina boasts straight, thorny stems, glossy, dark green leaves, and charming, single pink flowers with yellow stamens.
Versatile Carolina roses grace varied landscapes with vibrant blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa carolina
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-6’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

The Carolina rose is native to eastern and central North America, where it grows naturally in prairies, open woods, along roadsides, streambanks, and wetland margins. These versatile roses adapt to a wide range of light and soil conditions and are a great pick for waterwise woodland gardens. Bright pink blooms emerge in spring, open with yellow centers.

Foliage is dark green and smooth, with burnt orange to scarlet fall color. Bright red hips begin in late summer.

Carolina roses are mostly low-growing in the wild but can reach heights of six feet. They sucker easily to form thickets and colonies. 

Final Thoughts

When planning your rose garden additions, opt for roses with extended seasonal interest to bring new elements to the landscape. Second to the blooms themselves, roses with beautiful foliage are dynamic throughout the seasons. Whether fresh, new growth, glorious fall color, or interesting shapes and structures, roses with unique leaf qualities bring multi-season appeal. Enjoy the nuances of your roses, and note the beautiful foliage.  

A collection of diverse coleus plants with vibrant foliage in shades of pink, green, orange, and purple, displaying a spectrum of colors. Each leaf showcases a unique blend of hues, creating a striking contrast.

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