The Grand Lady Banks’ Rose
With all of the many flowers bursting at their seams with life and color this time of year, you’ll find more of my posts detailing out some of my favorites. Today’s spotlight flower is the Lady Banks’ Rose.
I actually have very few roses in our outdoor spaces. Not because I don’t like them, because I do – there are few flowers that are as varied and as colorful and as fragrant as roses…all great things. Now they do take a bit more care and know-how than I’m willing to muster…but I don’t have many roses mainly because I don’t have the spaces and environment to grow them well. Being in a fairly wooded lot, I only have a few spaces where they would thrive…and I tend to plant other sun-loving plants and flowers there. However, I do have the perfect spot for the grand Lady Banks’ (Rosa banksiae).
Britt and I love having friends over…and being more informal in our entertaining style, we prefer that our guests come to our back door. Unfortunately, to get there you have to enter from our driveway…where cars are often parked …not very attractive – coming or going. So not only did we want to hide the views of our driveway (i.e., cars and concrete) from our backdoor and upper lawn space, we also wanted to create an entrance that was more intentional and more welcoming. With plenty of sunlight…and once I created a very simple arbor, it was a perfect place for Lady Banks’ to spread her wings…and spread her wings she did.
Not that we needed two, but because I tend to over-plant and prefer not having to wait for symmetry, I planted a Lady Banks’ on both sides of the simple arbor that Brown-Brown and I constructed at the gate to our back yard. As you can see, they really like their home.
Lady Banks’ is a shrub-like vine that grows very vigorously up and over whatever structure she’s near. So be prepared to give her room to grow and to tame her…a lot. We often refer to ours as Medusa. Britt would probably prefer that I tame her some more, but as long as we can make it through the gate, I’m good with letting her wander. That said, I’m probably going to have to transplant some of the plants around our Lady to give her more space…or cut her back.
Fortunately, like all other roses, Lady Banks’ are very tolerant to pruning – which you’d want to do after their spring flowering season. But before I go to such drastic measures, I’ll continue to train her long arches into herself and around and through the arbor and nearby picket fence. Note, since the Lady Banks’ is not a true vine (i.e., it doesn’t twine, cling or clasp), you effectively have to do this type of training when the new shoots are strong enough to withstand a bit of man-handling, but not too strong so that they break.
The other really great thing about the Lady Banks’ is that she doesn’t have thorns…or really none to speak of. So whereas you wouldn’t put other beautiful climbing roses (e.g., New Dawn) near the entrance of anything – fearing that you’d gash your guests…the thornless Lady Banks’ is a perfect choice. And by the way, not only does she not have thorns, the Lady Banks’ also doesn’t have a fragrance. So if you’re looking for that…keep looking.
Our Lady Banks’ has clusters of yellow flowers that drape up and down her long arches. There is also a variety that has white flowers (and as you know, I prefer white flowers); but I have read some instances where the white variety may have some thorns. So we played it safe and chose the yellow variety.
I’ll leave you with one fun fact about the Lady Banks’. According to Guinness, the largest known single rosebush is a Lady Banks’…found in Tombstone, Arizona. She’s almost 130 years old and covers over 8,000 square feet of the roof of an old inn. And her trunk…yes, it’s a trunk…is over 12 feet in circumference. So as I said, you need to give her room to grow!
So there’s a bit of information on my favorite rose. What’s yours? Or…what have you planted to provide a grander, more welcoming entrance for your guests? I’d love to know…and to share it with our other fellow Ground Redeemers.
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I love Lady Banks’! We have them all over the place at Swan House and over our well at Smith Family Farm! So beautiful!
Yes…Brandi…they are quite the sight! Love ours. I’d actually like to find a spot for a white one. Take care, D.
My lil darling came from Tuscon AZ and needs lotsa pruning. She’s beautiful but very aggressive in spreading her canes. Beautiful work by God. Thanks.
Emma…thanks so much for your comment. Yes…I have TWO…one on either side of a small arbor…so now that they are established they require a good whacking every year to stay within the confines of the space I’d like them to live. But, as it sounds like with you, I think it’s well worth the effort. My Lady Banks does a great job at not only beautifying my outdoor space, she also does a great job creating a separation between my driveway and backyard…gracing my guests as they walk through and under her. And thankfully there are NO thorns to contend with.
Thanks again for chiming in Emma…and take care, D.
Some Lady Banks Roses do have fragrance! I just bought a white one. No thorns and it’s the larger flowers not the tiny flowers. It is slightly fragrant. When I was visiting south Louisiana several years ago there was a white one with the tiny flowers at an old plantation home and it was very fragrant. Wish I could get a cutting! I love yours and the fence and arbor!
Evangeline, so great to hear from you and thanks so much for chiming in. I have recently read that some Lady Banks do have a fragrance…and when they do, it’s not overwhelming…I guess you could say more “Lady-like”! And from what I understand, it is the white “alba” Lady Banks that are more likely to have a fragrance. Unfortunately my yellow Lady doesn’t have a scent…but she sure is purdy this time of year!!! Thanks again for reaching out Evangeline! – Take care, D.
Can you force blooms on them by fertilizing? We are in Phoenix, plants almost 1 yr old. Spring was beautiful bloom. Having a wedding November 17th and want to force blooms for the event. Is this possible? Expecting 80 degree days mid Nov.
Hey Jeri, thanks for reaching out. I don’t believe that you can force your Lady Banks to bloom in November…at least I’ve never heard of being able to do that. If you find out that you can, PLEASE let me know…as I would LOVE to have ours bust forth at other times too. But I really doubt that you can. I’d suggest that you consider other types of climbing roses that will bloom through the summer until the first frost. The downside with these is that you’ll likely have to deal with their thorns (vs. not with the Lady Banks). I wish I had better news for you. Thanks again for reaching out. Take care, D.
I’m looking at painting the exterior of our home and like the color grey on the house in the photo especially since I’d like to train yellow Lady Banks roses up the front of the house. Do you know the specific color or have a color you would recommend?
Hey Deb, sorry to just be getting back w you. Our brick is painted Sherwin Williams “Putty” (5402). Not all paint companies can find the formula, so I’ve included it as a PS at the bottom of the post we did on the exterior renovation of our home: https://redeemyourground.com/rebirth-before-after-of-our-1960s-ranch-house-remodel/. Hope this helps! Thanks for reaching out and let me know if you have any other questions. Take care, D.