2011-04-08 / Home & Garden

Rambling Rose Returns

Stopping to smell the flowers
By Arlene Marturano marturanoa@yahoo.com

If you have avoided including roses in the garden because you didn’t want to invest time, chemicals, and labor maintaining hybrids, you haven’t met Lady Banks, Rosa banksiae.

Lady Banks is a species rose, an old wild rose first discovered growing in western China, transported to India for cultivation before being brought to England by the Royal Horticultural Society. The yellow rose rambled to America in the 1800s where it has been a favorite in southern gardens as a thornless disease–free evergreen.

The vigorous fast growing rambling rose can reach 30 feet, so it needs room to roam. In the Midlands, you see single specimens mounded in the middle of lawns or at the edge of driveways. Lady Banks makes an excellent ground cover especially on slopes. The long stems can be trained on sturdy arbors, trellises and pergola. If planted near a tree the rose will soon scale its way to the top and cascade down. In rural areas, the rose smothers abandoned cottages, sheds, and garages. In China, the rose is used as a fence to border crop fields. Here it can be used as a privacy fence.


Lady Banks ‘Lutea’ is a species rose found growing wild in China by English plant hunters in the 1800s. Lady Banks ‘Lutea’ is a species rose found growing wild in China by English plant hunters in the 1800s. To obtain the best floral show, plant Lady Banks in full sun. Soil should be humus– rich and well drained but many Midlands Lady Banks tolerate a range of soil conditions without blinking a blossom. Lady Banks blooms only once in spring for a period of 3–4 weeks. The rose needs pruning only after the bloom cycle and only to remove dead wood or to keep the stems under control.

Local garden centers carry Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea,’ the most common doubleflowered yellow unscented subspecies. The yellow pompom flowers appear in clusters.

The rose is propagated from seed, cuttings and layering.


Yellow pompom unscented flowers cluster like nosegays. Blossoms make cut flower arrangements in spring. Yellow pompom unscented flowers cluster like nosegays. Blossoms make cut flower arrangements in spring. Who was Lady Banks? The rose was named for Lady Dorothea Banks, wife of British botanist, president of the Royal Horticultural Society, director of Kew Gardens, and financier of many plant hunting expeditions, Joseph Banks. He was an influential figure in reshaping the look of England’s gardens.

The thornless rambling rose Lady Banks ‘Lutea’ with its disease and drought resistance, longevity, and minimal care will coax you to reconsider species roses when reshaping your garden.



The arching stems can ramble 30 feet in no time. The arching stems can ramble 30 feet in no time.

Use Lady Banks as a solo mounding specimen or as a privacy fence. Use Lady Banks as a solo mounding specimen or as a privacy fence.

The thornless disease– free rose needs only minimum care to put for th a gor - geous yel low aura each spring. The thornless disease– free rose needs only minimum care to put for th a gor - geous yel low aura each spring.

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