Thornless Roses

Most rose gardeners learn to accept thorns with a quiet resignation, arming themselves against the less-pleasant tasks of rose care with gauntlet gloves and loppers. But did you know that technically, roses don’t have thorns? All of those projections along the stem are really called prickles, which help protect the plant against predators.

Prickles are small outgrowths from the plant’s outer layer and can easily be broken off. Thorns are modified branches embedded deep within the stem’s structure.

Some roses like Antique and Goethe (pictures 1 and 2) have daunting thorns. Thérèse Bugnet or Zéphirine Drouhin (pictures 3 and 4) are friendlier options. Thérèse Bugnet also produces colorful red stems in winter.

Location, Location

Thornless varieties are useful when roses are planted along walkways or other high-traffic areas. They are also a great idea for children’s gardens, elderly gardeners, or anyone who has let thorns get in the way of enjoying the world’s most popular flower.

Fortunately, nature provides exceptions to the “every rose has a thorn” rule. While there are not many, some truly thornless roses do exist. A number of “nearly thornless” roses are available, which have scattered thorns along the stem. Certain roses, such as Polyanthas, tend to have fewer thorns as a class. Here’s a list of thornless and nearly thornless roses:

Thornless Roses*

Near-Thornless Roses

*as per Combined Rose List; some thornless varieties may have a rare thorn or two, or small thorns und

Thornless Climbing Roses

Introduction to Thornless Climbing Roses:

When I first began gardening years ago, one of the first plants I purchased was a rose bush and I put it out in front of the first home I ever bought because I remembered growing up that my mother’s rose bushes always loved the morning sun they got at the front of the house. I thought myself lucky that my own house faced the same direction and I was excited at the prospect of growing roses around my big picture window.

What I didn’t seem to recall from all those years in my childhood home, was how much work my mother spent pruning and taking care of her rose bushes to get them to look so spectacular. Isn’t that always the case with children? I learned very quickly that growing roses was much different than growing other types of plants and that I had to learn to respect them and care for them if I wanted them to give me a stunning summer display.

Why Buy Thornless Climbing Roses?:

I started off my rose gardening adventures with two climbing varieties in fact, the ever popular Iceberg and the Golden Showers roses. I bought them the way most new growers do, through a local garden center where they were already grown in 2 gallon pots. So my first crack at roses was not very elaborate. I wish I knew then what I know now. I didn’t learn until several seasons later that you were supposed to train your climbers, and/or prune them to manageable heights if you so desired. I just let mine grow however they wanted.

When it finally came time to prune them after a couple seasons, because they were overgrowing the front of my house and literally growing into the cracks of the siding, I finally saw the light! Thorns hurt! Especially when you are dealing with older branches that are thick and rigid and have gotten accustomed to growing of their own accord. Even to this day I have to wrestle with those two rose bushes because the location I gave them was poorly planned with nearby plants. I have often wished I had done a little more research and bought myself thornless climbing roses instead.

Examples of Thornless Climbing Roses:

As I looked around I discovered that there are not many true thornless climbing roses, but there are a few out there. There are also a number of them that most growers will call “nearly thornless” or “virtually thornless”.

The Zephrine Drouhin is one such thornless rose with its pink blooms with whitish accents. It has a great old style fragrance and is very easy to train because of the flexibility of its branches. One unique feature about this rose is it will continue to bloom all throughout the summer if you deadhead it. This is a little unusual with the older roses.

The Cecile Brunner Antique rose is another climber that has little or no thorns to worry about and have been around since the late 1800’s. The blooms on these thornless roses start off as a light pink and gradually fade to an almost white color. The Cecile Brunner is disease resistant and it can still do well with a little shade and soil that isn’t perfect.

The Lady Banks climbing rose happens to be one of my personal favorites because I really like yellow roses, especially ones that don’t have thorns! At full maturity this gem can get as big as 20 feet tall, so make sure you plan accordingly. These thornless roses are very resistant to diseases and it produces clusters of small yellow blooms about 2 inches in diameter.

All of these thornless climbing roses would make a great addition to any landscaping idea!

Planting Thornless Climbing Roses:

How you plant your thornless roses depends in part on how you purchased them. If you ordered them online, then you probably received them as bareroot plants. This means they are in their dormant state. We have a great article on Planting Bare Root Roses in the main category so check that out for detailed information. You will start off by digging your hole wide enough to fit the roots and deep enough so that you can mound up some soil in the center and still keep the bud union about an inch or two below the surface of the soil. If your roses came from the local nursery in containers, then I like to dig my hole about twice the diameter of the container, and equally as deep.

Set your thornless climbing roses into the hole and back fill it only about halfway to start with. Water the loose soil thoroughly until it is almost like mud, then back fill it the rest of the way and water it again. What you are doing is ensuring that the soil completely covers the roots without leaving any air pockets behind

Caring for Thornless Climbing Roses:

Caring for your thornless roses is rather simple, first, make sure that you don’t overwater your plants. This might seem like a no brainer but so many gardeners make this mistake. In general, you want to give your roses one deep watering each week, or every 4-5 days if you live in an unusually hot climate.

You also can feed your thornless roses with a good all-purpose granular fertilizer. I personally stay away from the liquid chemical ones as I have found they burn certain roses too easily if not applied precisely. You can feed your roses in early spring when the leaves begin to form. If you are growing a variety of thornless roses that are repeat bloomers, you can feed them again just as the first big bloom begins to develop, and once more around mid-July to help promote additional flushes. Just be sure to allow at least 4 weeks in between blooms.

Pruning your thornless roses is simple as well and only takes a few minutes. Start off by removing any dead or diseased looking canes. Then remove any lateral canes that have overlapped one another as these will eventually compete for sun light. Lastly, shape and/or train your thornless roses to go the direction you want them to, by either tying off the canes to the support, or pruning back to a bud facing the direction you would like it to grow. The rest is just general shaping of the plant to your satisfaction!

Leave Thornless Climbing Roses and go to Climbing Roses

Return to Types of Roses

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Enjoy beautiful and trouble-free gardening with this list of rose variety without thorns!

RELATED: Garden Season Tips: How To Identify Rose Variety Like A Flower Expert

Our Favorite Rose Variety Without Thorns

Make Rose Garden Maintenance Hassle-Free With Thornless Roses

“Every rose has its thorn” is what the old adage says that we console ourselves to when jabbed by those prickly thorns. How curses come out of our mouth with the sting and the sight of the rose-red blood.

Well, don’t despair, there are thornless roses you can plant everywhere (instead of in the farthest area in your garden) because they’re safe to touch. Time to forget about the thorns and think of rose romantic quotes instead.

Thorns or prickles, whatever you call it, are such a hassle when you’re pruning or when you have to buy a new set of garden gloves just for that purpose. Worse when your kids or pets accidentally run into your rose bed or hedges.

Although roses are not completely without thorns or prickles and a totally thornless variety is a rarity, we have varieties of roses that are almost without thorns, you won’t notice until up close.

Check out this list of thornless roses and know which variety is for you:

1. Irene Marie Miniature Roses

This dwarf or miniature kind of rose is easily a big stunner with its bright yellow color and bold orange edges. Aside from being thornless, caring for it is easier because it is disease-resistant.

2. Cinderella Miniature Roses

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A post shared by 🌿 (@_nika_a___) on Oct 28, 2018 at 5:40am PDT

Cinderella Roses may be small but it’s not terrible because they have no thorns in them. In fact, they are the pretty and cute kind that’s continually blooming and is slightly fragrant.

3. Amadis Thornless Rambler Rose

This one’s great for training in arbors and pergolas being a rambler type of rose, another variety without thorns. Though thornless, the downside of this variety is that they’re not fragrant and they don’t bloom for long.

4. Veilchenblau Rambler Rose

Being almost blue, these rambler roses are sometimes called “blue rambler” or “violet blue” which is much easier to say. They are not completely without thorns, almost thornless so to say.

5. Yellow Lady Banks Climber Rose

Working on a huge mass of climber roses will be more difficult with thorns. Thank heavens, this fabulous variety lady banks is thornless and blooms heavily in spring.

RELATED: How To Make DIY Rainbow Roses

6. Climbing Pinkie Rose

For those who love perpetual blooms in their garden, this one’s best for you. Don’t worry if they grow about massively, there won’t be much of a hassle when working with it.

7. Smooth Prince Hybrid Tea Rose

This red hybrid tea variety is from smooth series of roses developed in the 1980s. It blooms with such vitality and the scent is fruity.

8. Oceana Hybrid Tea Rose

The Oceana Rose‘s pretty color and form make it a choice cut for flower arrangement and bouquets. Having no thorns makes it easy to handle and is pleasantly fragrant.

9. Outta the Blue Shrub Rose

Growing this thornless variety would need special care and attention. But it’s worth the lovely magenta colored blooms that are rose and clove-scented. Bare roots are sold online or at some specialty garden shops.

10. Hippolyte Gallica Rose

A hardy, old garden rose type that will tolerate the shade, unlike most roses that need at least six hours of sunlight. This variety with an interesting shape and petal arrangement is very fragrant.

11. Leander Hybrid Tea Rose

Being a hybrid tea rose, growing this will need special maintenance and care for it to live longer. This thornless, apricot-colored rose is fruity-scented that blooms throughout the seasons.

Check out this video about growing roses organically by GrowOrganic Peaceful Valley:

Growing rose variety without thorns will let you be free from the hassles of prickles or thorns.

If it can’t be helped and you want varieties with thorns, then you’ll just have to plant them in areas where your pets and children can’t be in harm’s way. But to grow a rose variety without thorns can be preferred with the excellent choices we have for you.

Think you can grow these thornless rose beauties at home? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 17, 2019, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

Your Garden: Thornless roses trendy yet timeless

Interest in thornless roses is on the rise.

It’s a trend. People want to be close to their roses without getting jabbed.

Thornless roses can be planted near walkways, porches, steps and entranceways.

But roses that inhabit this newly popular category are often very old. Many are still in modern gardens only because their beauty has protected them through the centuries.

Because there was much interest when I mentioned thornless roses during a talk in February to the Fayetteville Rose Society, I promised to write a column on them. This is it.

I have not grown most of the thornless or almost thornless roses, so my list of favorites is small.

Here are three of my favorite thornless roses, in order of preference:

‘Zepherine Drouhin’

Not only is it thornless, it is the most fragrant, most everblooming, most lavishly colored large-flowered pink climbing rose of all, thorns or no thorns. If you have room for it in a sunny spot, you will get all these qualities. In shade, you’ll get fewer blooms but still some rebloom.

‘Lady Banks’

In bloom now throughout our region, this climbing species can reach the top of a large longleaf pine and cascade back down to the ground. It bears hundreds, or even thousands, of ¾-inch yellow or white, very double flowers with very little scent.

‘Bleu Magenta’

The 1-inch, petal-packed flowers open mauve-pink, deepen to purple, then fade to lavender before dropping cleanly. This is, like Zepherine, best used as a large shrub or climber. It has very little scent. It blooms once, but does better in shade than Zepherine.

In addition to the dozen or so true thornless roses, there are more than two dozen nearly thornless varieties. These offer more diversity than the purely thornless types. Here are a few of my favorites in order of preference:

‘Madam Alfred Carriere’

The fragrance alone makes it worth growing. This is one of the best of the noisette roses first created from Chinese and Southeast Asian species in the early 1800s in Charleston, South Carolina. The 3.5-inch cream flowers bear 40 petals or more. This is a repeat-bloomer and moderate climber.

‘Cornelia’

A hybrid musk with the intense fragrance and loosely double form typical of the hybrid musks. The 2.5-inch flowers are blended apricot, pink and yellow. Can be used as a continuous blooming shrub or small climber. Foliage is glossy green and healthy but does get black spot.

‘Climbing Pinkie’

A remarkable bloomer with hundreds of rich pink flowers throughout the growing season. Almost never out of bloom when grown in full sun. Nicely fragrant. Very healthy and disease resistant, as are many polyantha hybrids.

Most of these roses and the ones on the following lists are available from heirloomroses.com or from antiqueroseemporium.com.

The following lists were compiled by Heirloom Roses:

Thornless roses

Near-Thornless Roses

Send your questions to [email protected] or call 424-4756. You may write to Roger Mercer, 6215 Maude St., Fayetteville NC 28306 Please include your telephone number.

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