Plant breeders have developed many varieties of roses without thorns. Thorn-free roses are particularly appropriate for elderly gardeners, young children, and people susceptible to injury due to an impaired lymphatic system. Here are three top varieties of roses without thorns.
The Smooth Buttercup Thornless has won many competitions and prizes. The Smooth Buttercup is a compact floribunda (a class of modern roses in which the blooms are in clusters) 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 one variety in the popular Smooth Touch roses without thorns series. Developed in California by Harvey Davidson of Western Sun Roses in the early 1960s, the Smooth Touch Series roses are 95-100% thorn free.
The Banksiae Rose (Rosa banksiae lutea) is another nearly thornless variety that has been popular with gardeners since it was introduced in Kew Gardens almost two centuries ago. The yellow Banksiae 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 are not very large, the number of small blooms creates an astounding display.
The yellow Banksiae Rose is a rambling, free-flowing grower, but it is easy to trim and keep in place. Unlike more conventional roses, do not prune the yellow Banksiae in winter. Rather, trim it in summer, after it has bloomed. The flowers of the Banksiae Rose are produced on the wood from the previous growing season, so pruning in winter cuts away the new season’s buds and flowering wood.
The Banksiae Rose bush is almost completely disease resistant. It does not require regular doses of fungicide sprays and is not fond of commercial fertilizers. Plant the Banksiae Rose in relatively fertile, well-drained soil in a nice sunny location. Let it grow freely, clipping any wayward growth, ortrain it to climb alongside a trellis or wall.
The Zephirine Drouhin is one of the most popular roses without thorns. Named after the wife of a French rose enthusiast, the Zephirine Drouhin is a beautiful Bourbon rose with a 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 or archway or along the rails of a veranda or porch patio. The Zephirine Drouhin produces a profusion of large, dark pink blossoms that bloom from May to the first frost.
The Zephirine Drouhin rose bush tolerates poor soil and air pollution better than most roses, and blooms in partial shade. However, this rose is prone to fungal problems in high humidity, so it needs good air circulation for vigorous growth and to help control fungal diseases.
Prune this rose bush during the dormant season, and collect and destroy dead leaves surrounding the plant 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 to mulch thoroughly each spring to retain moisture during the hot months.