R. banksiae: Tombstone Rose

The Tombstone rose is a climber with tiny white or yellow colored blossoms. It grows very vast and can form a dense canopy. New growth is delicate and dainty in appearance, but in actuality it is very hardy and adapts to new environments readily. A substantial support system should be planned or yearly pruning will be necessary to hold the plant in check. The Tombstone rose grows extremely well here and should be in bloom between the middle of March to the middle of April.

If you have yet to visit the museum in Tombstone where this rose is established, you will be in for a pleasant experience. This rose plant is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest in the world. It is over 100 years old and the base is as large as a river tree. When you visit the museum to view the rose you enter a backyard and you will be under an umbrella of roses. The extent of growth and the support required to hold up the developed plant will surprise you. The fragrance and cocoon-like atmosphere will charm you. The spent blossoms fall to the earth to create a snowpack of soft petals. There are two other fairly large species of the rose in Tombstone; one at the Catholic Church and the other at a private residence near the courthouse.

It takes no special conditions to grow this beauty. It does like the sun so plan a site where it receives plenty. Placement in a shady location may create conditions for powdery mildew or the encouragement of thrips.

The Tombstone rose is propagated by cuttings and transplants easily. This plant is recommended as a living roof of roses on a patio. It also lends itself well to arched trellises or if planted against the house produces a wall with shadows of delicate beauty.

The Tombstone rose will please you with its easy adaptability to various environments. It is very fast growing and offers a multitude of blossoms in the spring. The lacy new growth is pliable and eager to create the effect you desire when landscaping.

Barbara Kishbaugh
April, 1993