Lady Banks’ Rose (Rosa banksiae)

Lady Banks, Lady Banks Rose

Rosa Banksia Lutea, also known as the “Double Yellow Rose” and holder of the much coveted RHS Award of Garden Merit, is a unique and beautiful species of wild rose found in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. This plant is known for its stunning yellow flowers that bloom in clusters and its vibrant green foliage. It is a hardy plant that is well adapted to a variety of soils and climates and is perfect for adding a touch of color to any garden or landscaping project. With its low maintenance requirements and ability to attract pollinators, this plant is a must-have for anyone looking to enhance their outdoor space. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this is the perfect addition to any garden or landscape.

I. Appearance and Characteristics 

Rosa banksiae, common names Lady Banks’ rose, or just Banks’ rose, is a species of flowering plant in the rose family, native to central and western China, in the provinces of Gansu, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Jiangsu, Sichuan and Yunnan, at altitudes of 500–2,200 m (1,640–7,218 ft). The rose is named for Dorothea Lady Banks, the wife of the botanist Sir Joseph Banks.

It is a scrambling shrubby vine growing vigorously to 6 m (20 ft) tall. Unlike most roses, it is practically thornless, though it may bear some prickles up to 5 mm long, particularly on stout, strong shoots. The leaves are evergreen, 4–6 cm long, with three to five (rarely seven) leaflets 2–5 cm long with a serrated margin.

The flowers are small, 1.5–2.5 cm diameter, white or pale yellow and are fragrant. It is amongst the earliest flowering of all roses, usually appearing during May in the northern hemisphere, though cold weather can delay flowering. All Lady Banks’ roses are said to smell of violets to varying degrees.

Rosa banksiae has likely been grown in the gardens of China for hundreds of years. The species was introduced to Europe by William Kerr, who had been sent on a plant-hunting expedition by Sir Joseph Banks. He bought the first Lady Banks’ Rose, subsequently named the white Lady Banks (R. banksiae var. banksiae) from the famous Fa Tee nursery in 1807.

An R. banksiae planted in Tombstone, Arizona in 1885 is reputedly the world’s largest rose bush. It covers up to 9,000 square feet (840 m2) of the roof on an inn, and has a 12-foot (3.7 m) circumference trunk.

II. How to Grow and Care

Sunlight

Lady Banks’s rose favors full sun and also can tolerate a half shade environment. In partial shade, it usually only grows leaves and does not bloom. Even if it has flower buds, the flower is neither gorgeous nor fragrant. As a result, it is recommended that gardeners ensure sunlight at least 6 hours per day during the growing season (but not necessarily in winter). In summer, it should be appropriately shaded to prevent overexposure to sunlight.

Temperature

Lady banks’s rose is widely distributed from cold temperate zones to tropical areas. It likes cool, ventilated environments and is not tolerant of high temperatures. The optimum temperature range is 15 to 26 ℃. Some species can tolerate temperatures as low as -26 ℃ and high temperatures of up to 35 ℃. When the temperature is below 4 ℃ in winter and above 30 ℃ in summer, the plant becomes semi-dormant and has poor growth. The flowers during this period will have a few small, white petals with a dim and lusterless color and are not good-looking at all.

Lady banks’s rose favors moist conditions but is not resistant to water-logging. It can tolerate moderate drought. Provide more water from budding to flowering, but reduce watering after blooming time. After blooming, wait to water again until the soil is basically dry to avoid any accumulation. Ensure good ventilation and drain excess water during the rainy season to prevent damage to its roots.

Watering

Lady banks’ rose favors moist but not water-logged conditions, so it’s important to keep the soil well-drained whether it’s planted in the ground or potted. When growing outdoors, it can be watered when the soil surface is slightly dry (except for in winter) with no fixed watering frequency. Keep the soil moist, as drought will reduce the number of flowers.

In drought, the plant needs to be watered every 2-3 days. Pay attention to drainage and avoid water-logging during the rainy season. Winter is its dormant period, so it’s okay to stop watering then. The plant is not tolerant of water-logging; its roots easily rot. Avoid water accumulation when watering, and also avoid splashing water onto the leaves to prevent disease.

Potted lady banks’ roses can be watered every 2 days during the growing season except for winter. Only water the plant when the soil surface is slightly dry. In high-temperature seasons, the evaporation of water increases, and the plant is in a weak and semi-dormant period. To prevent it from drying out, water it twice a day in the morning and at night. Additionally, avoid too much exposure to sunlight.

It’s recommended to water potted plants until excess water seeps out from the bottom of the container. Remember to drain the standing water, or place a saucer with pebbles under the pot to allow excess water to flow out easily. During the dormancy period in winter, it should be watered less often. Only water often enough to prevent the soil from becoming extremely dry. Lady banks’ rose needs to be watered more from budding to flowering, and the amount and frequency of watering should be reduced after flowering.

Soil

Lady Banks’s rose can adapt to a variety of soil types and grows best in acidic soil which is fertile, loose, and water-drained. When planting in the garden, you should choose a place on higher terrain with sufficient sunlight, good air ventilation, and slightly acidic soil. Planting in high terrain helps avoid water accumulation in soil. Before planting, deeply loosen the soil and use organic fertilizer as base fertilizer. If planting as a potted plant, use humus-rich and slightly acidic sandy soil.

Fertilizing

Lady banks’ roses favor fertile soil, so it’s best to apply fertilizer several times during the growing season, but only in small amounts each time. In the spring and summer, you can use liquid fertilizer twice a month and use slow-release fertilizer every two months. Add more nutrients for more lush plants and flowers. A slow-release organic fertilizer can be used in winter so the new shoots and buds in next year’s bloom will be lush; these flowers will be large and gorgeous.

If lady banks’s rose is to be used for fresh-cut flowers, fertilize them 1-2 times a week during the fluorescence. Pay attention to the cultivation of branches with flowers. Cut off flower buds from weak branches of the plant to concentrate nutrients in the stronger ones. Additionally, a sprinkling of Mycorrhizal fungi (which is also sold as Root Grow) at the base of the plant will allow the beneficial fungi to form a symbiotic relationship with the root system, helping it to absorb nutrients and water.

Planting Instructions

If planting potted lady banks rose in your garden, it’s best to find a suitable site with adequate sunlight, fertile soil, good drainage, and preferably a place that hasn’t been planted with any roses before. A field that previously grew roses may increase the probability of infection. Transplanting can be done in all seasons except winter.

First, dig a pit that is twice as big as the flower pot. Add a small amount of base fertilizer to the pit, and place the root system or root ball into the pit so that the root crown (where the aboveground part and the underground part connect) is at or slightly higher than the surface of the soil. Backfill and slowly compact the soil. A layer of organic mulch can be used to cover the soil surface for heat preservation of roots and also reduce the growth of weeds. Water thoroughly after transplanting and water often in the first week to avoid wilting caused by a lack of water.

If transplanting lady banks rose from one part of the garden to another, do it in fall to avoid the cold of winter. Water the plants three days before transplanting; this makes it easy to dig up and retain the root balls. Then, trim off the overlong branches and excessive leaves, leaving 3-4 branches per plant to reduce excessive consumption of nutrients and ensure its survival. Prune any unhealthy roots left after being dug up.

If a bare-root rose cannot be immediately planted after purchase, it can simply be placed into a pit and covered with soil. If it has already gone without water for some time, it’s better to soak its roots in water for half an hour before planting to help it recover. It is recommended to plant bare-root roses in gardens in the fall.

Pruning

Lady Banks’s rose has a strong sprouting ability and grows luxuriantly. Without proper, timely pruning, it will attract diseases and pests in hot, humid, insufficiently lit, or poorly ventilated conditions. After the first bloom, the plant should be slightly pruned. Promptly cut off faded flowers and thin, overlapping branches, leaving only young and strong branches. During winter dormancy, careful pruning is recommended.

For vines, keep main branches at 2 to 3 m long and cut off the rest. For bush plants, cut 1.02 cm above full buds, prune the whole plant to 1/3 of its original height, and leave 4-6 thicker branches while ensuring that the overall shape of the plant meets your desired appearance.

Propagation

Lady banks’ roses can be propagated by grafting. Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) is often used as rootstock for grafting. Generally, grafting is carried out from the end of summer to the beginning of autumn, and the grafting part is as close to the ground as possible. Cut a T-shaped cut on the outer skin of the rootstock with a knife on one side of the stem and branch, then select a bud from the middle of a well-developed branch in the same year, cut the bud with bark, insert it into the T-shaped cut, bind it with plastic film, and place it in proper shade. It can usually be untied 15 days after grafting, and will germinate and survive after 30 days.

You can also select a branch that has not yet developed a leaf bud as a scion if the thickness of the scion is more similar to that of the rootstock. Cut a 2 cm deep cut on the rootstock longitudinally, insert the scion into the cut, and then fasten it with plastic film. The incision will heal after about 10 days.

Lady banks’ roses can also propagate by division. It can be planted deeper and filled with soil to the roots so that new roots can grow at the bottom of each branch. In the early spring or late autumn, the whole plant can be dug out with soil to be divided into ramets. Select a stem with 1-2 branches and some fibrous roots, and then separate it from the whole plant and plant it in a basin or garden. At the same time, prune the branches on the ground to reduce the evaporation of water and improve the survival rate of transplanting.

Cutting propagation, another useful way to propagate lady banks’ roses, is generally carried out in spring and autumn. Branches with 3-4 buds can be cut off to use. The substrate for cutting can be a mix of river sand, rice chaff ash, or vermiculite, etc. Insert the branches into the substrate, shade it properly, and spray to maintain humidity. The branches will take root 20-30 days after cutting, and the survival rate is 70-80%. If the branches are dipped in rooting powder and then inserted into the substrate, the survival rate will be higher. Additionally, the cuttings can be immersed in water for cutting; the cutting temperature is 20 to 25 ℃, and new roots will grow after 20 days.

Pests and Diseases

– Common Pests 

– Common Diseases 

– Prevention

Maintenance

III. Uses and Benefits 

  • Ornamental uses

Banksia Roses are excellent for covering a fence or bare wall, and will quickly cover the area. They have almost thornless stems making them very easy to handle and prune and ideal for a backyard that has children and pets running around. Banksia Roses are largely disease resistant and are low maintenance. It also works well as a ground cover rose.

  • Medicinal uses

The leaves of this plant are said to possess qualities useful in the treatment of wounds and the promotion of tissue formation. The plant is also rich in tannins which are used medicinally as astringents.

IV. Harvesting and Storage

Lady Banks’s rose produces excellent fresh flowers that can be pruned with sharp scissors as soon as they bloom. It is best to pick flowers in the morning to avoid loss of water through plant transpiration at noon. After picking, it is necessary to trim the base of the branch at a 45° angle to increase the water absorption area. Quickly put the flower into a vase with clean water to avoid water loss.

Lady Banks’ Rose (Rosa banksiae) Details

Common name Lady Banks, Lady Banks Rose
Botanical name Rosa banksiae
Plant type Rose
Hardiness zone 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
Growth rate Fast
Harvest time Winter
Height 15 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
Width 15 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
Sunlight Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
Soil condition Clay
Flower color White
Leaf color Green