The yellow Banksiae rose was first introduced to England in the early 1800s. It has been a firm favorite ever since, due to a delightful habit of producing 1000s of flowers, on long, almost thornless canes. You can find a list of other thornless roses on this page. Much as we like the Banksia, it doesn’t make the list in our top 5 ramblers to plant in your garden.
The photos on this page shows one in my garden, growing up and around a BBQ chimney. It’s on a large picket fence along with a bright red Camillia, and when both are out in bloom together the effect is stunning.
The only “problem” with this rose, is that once it gets well estabished, there is no stopping it… it will take over a small space and crowd out other plants, so do think ahead before you choose a spot for it.
Pruning Your Banksia
With most roses, you prune early winter. However, with climbers, and the banksiae in particular, this is a mistake. They produce their next seasons flowers on older wood, and if you prune during the winter, you will have few flowers for next summer.
So prune them as soon as the main flowering is over. This will usually be the first month of summer….they are an early flowering rose. The photos above were taken 1st October (that is in NZ, so in early spring), and the rose is in almost full bloom already.
Training Your Banksiae
These are extremely easy to train. Their exceptional vigor, and virtually thornless whippy canes, makes it easy to train along a fence, up an old dead tree, or over a garden shed. I had the one in the pictures trained (well, sort of trained ~ it has a mind of it’s own) along the top of a 6 foot high picket fence.
It’s a simple matter of weaving the canes inbetween the pickets, and trimming the wayward ones into submission!
These are in clusters, small flowers of pale yellow. They don’t appear to fade with age, as many of the older yellow roses do, and they have a slight fruity fragrance. Although each flower may not have a stong perfume, when you multipy that by several thousand, then the scent is enough to perfume an entire area of your garden.
The banksiae can grow huge, given the right conditions (and enough time). For an example of that, take a look at pictures of the worlds largest rose bush.
Yes, you guessed it, it’s a banksiae, and is located in Tombstone, Arizona. That is the white Banksiae, the rosa banksiae banksiae which is very similar and closely related to the yellow banksiae (rosa banksiae lutea, which is shown on this page).
Our Struggles With Taming A Large White Banksiae
The white and yellow banksias have a lot in common. One of those things is they are very hard to keep in check. When we moved into our house, there was (and still is) a white banksia growing over a pergola in the back section of the garden.
A beatiful rambler, BUT the problem was that it was getting so heavy the pergola was in imminent danger of collapse, other roses were suffering due to getting reduced light, and it was overhanging the washing line. Something had to be done!
We moved into the house in August, so the banksia was getting ready to flower. Late September it put on a wonderful show, and we should have pruned it in Nov or Dec. But you know how it is when you have moved into a new place, there are so many jobs that have to be done, so things like pruning the banksia gets put off. It was going to be a BIG job as it looked like it had been many years since it had been pruned.
But this year, we couldn’t put it off any longer… so with the help of our friendly neighbors, we took to it with clippers and saws. Four of us spent the afternoon pruning, dragging and carrying branches to the trailer (thank goodness this is an almost thornless rambler!) until we ended up with what you can see in the picture. What a difference! 3 big trailer loads of branches and canes were removed.
We pruned this late July, so we knew that we wouldn’t get many flowers in the spring, but sometimes you just don’t have a choice: it had to be done, and done before the new seasons growth totally demolished the pergola.
But that’s the great thing with a Banksia, no matter how hard or brutal you are with the pruning, it will spring back. And that is exactly what happened. Within a week or two, the first new shoots were starting to grow, and by September, what was bare and empty lattice was covered in green. As expected, we didn’t get many flowers this spring, but next year we should be back to a full display. And we will not be letting it get out of control like that again!