Best Thornless Roses

It used to be that we could not imagine a rose without its thorns. We risked the pain to bask in their undeniable beauty. But now, those of us who may be particularly wary of thorns have more options than ever. Plant breeders have developed many thornless varieties of rose. Here are three top varieties of roses without thorns. So go ahead: toss aside your gardening gloves, and proceed without fear of those nasty thorns.

1) Smooth Buttercup Thornless. This variety has won praise from gardeners worldwide, winning numerous competitions and prizes. The Smooth Buttercup is a compact floribunda that produces clusters of beautiful bright golden yellow blossoms. The Smooth Buttercup Thornless is a repeat bloomer, providing a beautiful display throughout the growing season. The blossoms also produce a light, sweet fragrance.

The Smooth Buttercup Thornless is just one variety in the popular Smooth Touch Thornless rose series. Developed in California by Harvey Davidson of Western Sun Roses in 1962, the Smooth Touch Series has been popular with consumers ever since. All roses in the Smooth Touch series are 95-100% thorn free. Thorn free roses are particularly appropriate for elderly gardeners, young children, and individuals who may be susceptible to injury due to an impaired lymphatic system. Smooth Touch donates part of their profits to cancer research organizations.

2) The Banksias Rose (Rosa banksias lutea) is another excellent nearly thornless variety that has been a hit with gardeners since it was introduced in Kew Gardens nearly two centuries ago. The yellow Banksias Rose nearly bubbles over with blooms during its two month flowering season. It blooms in early autumn (September and October) in a swirl of fluffy butter-yellow nearly double bloom flowers. Although the flowers themselves are not very large, the number of small blooms creates an astounding display.

The yellow Banksias Rose is a rambling, free-flowing type of grower, but it is easy to trim and keep in place because it is nearly thornless. Unlike more conventional roses, the yellow Banksias must not be pruned in winter. Rather, it should be trimmed in summer, after it has bloomed. The flowers of the Banksias Rose are produced on the wood from the previous growing season, so pruning in winter would result in cutting away the new season’s buds and flowering wood.

The Banksias Rose admired by gardeners worldwide for its ease of growth and care. This rose bush is almost completely disease resistant. It will not require regular doses of fungicide sprays, and is not particularly fond of being fed with commercial fertilizers very often. Plant the Banksias Rose in relatively fertile, well-drained soil in a nice sunny location. Let it grow freely, clipping any wayward growth, or train it to climb alongside a trellis or wall.

3) Perhaps the most popular nearly thornless variety of rose is the Zephirine Drouhin. (shown in the photo above) Named after the wife of a French rose enthusiast, the Zephirine Drouhin is a beautiful Bourbon rose that should be planted in a location where you can really enjoy its strong and sweet fragrance.

The Zephirine Drouhin is a moderate climber, generally reaching heights of 10 to 12 feet, although gardeners report it can climb much higher. You can train this lovely rose bush to grow on a trellis, archway, or along the rails of a veranda or porch patio. Because it is nearly thornless, the Zephirine Drouhin is relatively easy to handle. It produces a profusion of large, dark pink blossoms that bloom from May to the first frost.

The Zephirine Drouhin rose bush is famous for its shade tolerance. It is best grown in moist, slightly acidic soil in full sun or part shade. The Zephirine Drouhin needs good air circulation for vigorous growth and to help control fungal diseases. For best flowering and to ensure the greatest disease resistance, plant Zephirine Drouhin in full sun.

It should be pruned during the dormant season, and dead leaves surrounding the plant should be collected and destroyed to prevent disease. Zephirine Drouhin, like many other rose varieties, is susceptible to mildew, black spot, rust, and Rose rosette. During the active growing season, be sure to remove spent blossoms and mulch thoroughly each spring to retain moisture during the hot months.

photo by Linda N. / CreativeCommons