Banksia rose

This lovely climbing rose is a popular addition to many gardens. The Banksia Rose, (Rosa banksiae) or Lady Banks Rose, originated in China, and is named after the wife of famous botanist Sir Joseph Banks.
An evergreen rose with few, if any, thorns, it is a dense climber to about 6 metres – perfect for covering a fence or pergola. Masses of creamy yellow or white flowers are produced on long canes from spring onwards. The flowers have a delicate fragrance, some say reminiscent of violets.
This vigorous rose needs a well-drained soil in full sun or part shade where it won’t crowd out other plants. First fill the planting hole with water. This is important for two reasons. How quickly the hole drains indicates whether drainage is good or you will need to plant the rose in a raised mound. If the surrounding soil is not damp when you transplant, the water you apply after planting will be drawn away from the root ball into the surrounding dry soil, and the plant will look stressed several days after planting. The addition of compost to the planting hole, and a 5 cm layer of organic mulch to the soil surface, is very beneficial. Keep the mulch one hand width from the stem.
It is a hardy plant but it should be watered weekly for the first couple of months after planting if weather is dry. Then, only water when the top centimetre of soil is dry.
Climbing roses are pruned after flowering. Banksia roses are usually pruned by late summer when the main flowering flush has finished. As these roses flower on last season’s wood, just remove any damaged canes, and shorten the rest of the canes by one third. Hard pruning results in no flowers next spring. Prune new roses during First Quarter phase when sap flow is higher and growth response will be faster.

21 thoughts on “Banksia rose

  1. Hi, I’ve had a banksia rose growing against a south eastern facing wall for 3 years. The foliage looks ok but it has never flowered! Does it just need more sun? It does get full sun all morning.
    what do you feed it? Perhaps giving it a light application of a complete organic fertiliser, and a drink of seaweed tea (weak black tea strength) might help you see some flowers.

  2. Hi Lyn, I am in western Sydney and have a Banksia Rose climbing up over my shed. We have had some bad windy days and the bulk of the rose has now fallen off the shed and is now almost flat, nearly coming out of the ground under it’s own weight. I’m thinking of taking some cuttings to grow a new 1 in case we can’t get this one upright again. It weighs a ton! When would be the best time to try to propagate a few cuttings?

    I would definitely take some cuttings, Sandra. Take more cuttings than you think you will need. Prepare a pot/s with good quality growing mix with 25% propagation sand added. Moisten the mix and make sure it is firm in the pot. As Banksia roses tend to be evergreen in most climates of Australia, choose strong young growth where leaves have formed, but not soft tissue at the tip. Trim the cuttings to about 15cm with the bottom cut just BELOW a joint in the stem, and remove the lower 2/3 of leaves. It may help to dip the base of cuttings into rooting powder or bush honey. Use a pencil to poke a hole in the mix for each cutting, then add the cuttings to the pot. I find putting cuttings next to the edge of the pot helps to support them. Water gently, but do not fertilise until strong signs of new growth. Keep pots in a warm, protected spot out of direct sunlight.

  3. Hi Lyn, I’m looking to plant a Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ beside my pool (in a decked area) to grow over the pergola for some shade. Just wondering if the root system is such that it would damage the pool walls or pipes? There should be ample room for the roots to go without needing to push on the pipes, but don’t know if they’ll be drawn to them. Likewise, does this particular plant send out ground runners? Thanks, Georgie

    Banksia roses can reach 6 metres, Georgia, and when you consider that the feeder roots are usually underneath the outer canopy where they collect rain falling off the foliage, this plant is probably not a good choice where the roots may be restricted by a structure. Confining roots also confines the canopy of foliage. They are vigorous plants in our climates, but I don’t know if the roots can damage structures. However, if something causes a crack in a pipe, roots will be drawn to the moisture in that area. Roses generally will send up suckers where a root has been damaged. – Lyn

  4. I live in Victoria and my banksia rose loses all its leaves has heaps of flowers at the moment then when they die the leaves start growing again I thought they are meant to be evergreen, it’s about 4 years old

    In cool climates, Susan, Banksia roses do lose their leaves in winter. It must get cold in winter months where you live.

  5. It’s winter here on the Victorian Surfcoast. I have a pergola which receives full sun and I love to plant a yellow Banksia rose. The Square pergola has 4 old telegraph poles about 2 metres apart As it’s base. There are then cross beams rising to a higher centre. Do you think I should plant 4 Banksia roses, one at the base of each pole? Or would one spread to cover the roof? TIA

    Banksia roses can spread up to 6 metres, Jennie, but it takes them a while. To get good coverage for your pergola, planting them 2 metres apart would probably work well, if you give them early training on where you want them to spread. – Lyn

  6. Hello Lyn, I am looking at plant options for a mass planting along an open wire fence to create a neighbour-friendly screen on my property in central Victoria, which has rich volcanic soils and cold wet winters, with frosts and even occasional snow. I’d very much appreciate your advice regarding Banksia Rose and its suitability or not, and maybe alternatives to consider. Many thanks, Debra

    According to the minimum temperatures that Banksia Roses tolerate in the USA, Debra, it should be fine where you live, although it may not be completely evergreen if you get an extreme winter. To keep the fence ‘neighbour-friendly’, you will have to prune it regularly, after flowering, as these plants are very vigorous growers. – Lyn

  7. We are planting Banksia roses along the side of an open carport in Ipswich, Qld. How far apart do we need to put horizontal wires for them to climb on?

    30 cm apart should be enough to give the young shoots support.

  8. Sorry Lyn, I live in the NSW snowy mountains I’m not sure how to attached a photo or explain it any better
    As you are in a very cold climate, it is not likely to be the most common cause of leaf damage. Isn’t there anyone who can help you by taking a photo on a phone and emailing it to me?

    Hi Linda, Thank you for the photo. The damage does not look like frost or rose virus damage. Surprisingly, it looks like powdery mildew, which is very unusual in the current temperatures in your area. These roses are pretty much disease-resistant, so I would say the problem is due to a potassium deficiency. Roses have a high potassium requirement. See: Powdery mildew

    In your case, I would remove damaged leaves (if the problem is not too wide spread) and put them in a sealed bag. Then spray the plant with seaweed extract, diluted to weak black tea strength. Also water in ‘seaweed tea’ around the base of the plant. As well as being an essential nutrient, and helping to build disease-resistance, potassium helps plants to resist extremes of heat and cold. Don’t apply fertiliser at this time. You don’t want to encourage new growth with the two coldest months ahead of you. An application of complete fertiliser as the soil starts to warm in spring, and again after flowering in late summer, along with regular watering, should see you overcome this problem.

  9. My banksia rose has white markings on the leaves and I’m not sure why, can you help. Thanks Linda
    Linda, you haven’t said where you live, so I don’t know what sort of climate conditions are affecting your area. ‘White markings on the leaves’ is a pretty vague description of your problem, as they could be caused by several things. A photo would be helpful in helping you to find a solution. Lyn

  10. I have bought to ver small banksia roses and want to train them to grow up into my lattice.
    I would like to know if I can manage these plants early so as they do not grow as wide as they do by continual pruning. Are the roots of these plants deep and would they destroy things in the way and if they do not have room to expand and grow further or do they grow as much as they can in a restricted area?
    Thank you

    Banksia roses are quite vigorous plants, easily reaching 6 metres, and need a strong root system to support their vigorous growth. The problem with continual pruning to keep it small would come at the expense of loss of flowers. You would be wise to choose a less vigorous plant for your situation. – Lyn

  11. I’m in Sydney. My banksia rose baby is growing fast (less than a year since I planted it and already some stems are over 2m). But it is lacking foliage. What’s there looks healthy, but there just isn’t much. How can I encourage it to fill out? So far, I’ve added some lucerne mulch and upped the watering. Thanks!

    I’d say your rose is doing well for its age, as the root ball would be fairly small at this stage. Don’t over-water it as it says in the article, as the weather is currently quite wet where you are. When you prune it after flowering, rake back the mulch and apply some complete native plant food to the soil surface, water it in, and recover with mulch. – Lyn

  12. Hi, I live in Adelaide and our house is facing north. I have 2 banksia rose plants about 2 years old. They have never bloomed. I am wondering why. The plants look healthy too. Please instruct me how to promote blooms my banksia plants. Thank you

    Hi Sepalika,
    You haven’t said what you have used to fertilise your plants. Banksia roses are not heavy feeders, however, at this time of year they do appreciate a 5 cm layer of organic compost applied to the soil surface over the root area (keeping it well clear of the trunks.) Water the compost, then cover it with several cm of organic mulch to keep it damp.
    In spring, rake back the compost and give the trees a light application of slow release rose food – applied to the root area, watered in and recovered with the mulch. These should provide your trees with the nutrients they need to produce flowers.

  13. Hello, I have a yellow banksia rose and live in Victoria. Do I leave those really really long canes or do I prune them off? Thank you

    Barbara, if you have a lot of very long canes, you can remove some of them to thin out growth. First remove any dead canes, then those that are damaged. Then, as it says in the post above, shorten the remaining canes by one third so that you don’t lose next season’s flowers.

  14. Hello, I live on a farm in Victoria, we only have bore water, I’d like a rose to climb up an old verandas. Would the banksia be tough enough for our conditions, or too tough for a verandah? Many thanks.

    Hi Heather, the vigorous growth of the Banksia Rose is very suitable for verandahs and pergolas, and it does grow in Victoria. Bore water is merely ground water. Some can be high in calcium and magnesium, others can be salty. It depends on how your other plants respond to your bore water. Make sure your planting spot has good drainage and compost mixed into the planting soil, and check your soil pH (6.5 is perfect). The humus in mature compost and a suitable pH prevent plants from absorbing excess amounts of particular nutrients. – Lyn

  15. I recently bought a home in Hobart and there is a banksia rose at the back of the garden that is about 6 cubic metres large. There’s a significant amount of dead wood underneath and it takes up so much space. I’d love to prune it back but the advice a lot of people are giving me is to remove it and then put in a smaller trained one. Any advice?

    It is quite common for these roses to reach 6 metres, so they are best grown over a pergola or where they will not crowd other plants. Cutting it back hard will remove the wood where flowers form. As the post above indicates, now is not a good time to prune it. You might be best to remove it and plant another one where its mature size won’t cause a problem.

  16. We have an elderly white banksia rose growing on a west facing fence that used to bloom madly every spring and summer. Over the last few year it has not been doing as well despite pruning, feeding and watering. It is probably 20 yrs old. This year it has a few leaves and buds so far but I have had to take off quite a few dead branches. We live in southern Victoria on the coast and it has been a cool, damp spring and none of the roses on the shadier parts of the garden are doing well but this one is particularly sad! Thanks for any advice Silke
    It could be water-logged soil if other roses aren’t doing well as roses like sunny positions, or collar rot, or old age. You haven’t said what sort of fertiliser you have used, or when you pruned it. It is difficult to identify the source of the problem with the information you have provided.

  17. Is the Banksia Rose toxic to stock? Am wishing to grow it on a fence that separates the house yard from the paddocks. The animals that have access to the fence are: horses, sheep, deer, cattle and kangaroo? Thanking you in advance.

    It is not included in any lists that I searched Fiona, but I would check with a Vet who cares for livestock. I was recently warned by my Vet that the Sago Palm is poisonous to animals, although that doesn’t appear on these lists, either. Best to be on the safe side.

  18. Would it be possible to grow a banksia rose in terra-cotta or concrete containers
    The idea is to have it grow up the front walls around windows of a unit that has only a cement/concrete footpath in front of the windows and it is in order to soften the wall spaces between these windows. Most of the ground soil in other areas is clay.
    There is a climbing banksia rose climbing well along a side fence from the ground.
    So, this is the reason for considering this plant to grow in other areas of the residence. Live in western suburbs of Adelaide. Thank you.

    Shoma, Banksia Rose is not a plant that I would recommend for growing in a pot as it is very vigorous (7-8 metre) and would need a decent sized root system to provide the coverage you are hoping for. It also blooms on old wood, so in order not to cover the windows or interfere with use of the footpath, pruning required would very probably drastically reduce flowering. This plant does better in soil with organic matter added and allowed to form its free-arching shape.
    If you want to try growing it in a very large pot, large terracotta and concrete pots commonly have only one hole in the base, and the pot would need to be kept off the pavement using briquettes to ensure good drainage.

  19. I am looking for a screening vine to grow across high tension wires to screen out neighbours over the back fence. There is a currently a lilly pilly hedge that is about a metre high to the fence height.
    We live in Brisbane and the area is 3.5 metres long. We are looking for something that would grow about 2.5 to 3 metres tall and be reasonably dense. Where we are intending to plant it would most likely put it in a very large pot in the ground to give it protection from other plants that steal the moisture (there was bamboo close by). Would the Banksia Rose be suitable for this?

    According to what I can find, a Banksia Rose should grow happily in Brisbane.

  20. I have 2 established banksia roses (1xwhite 1xyellow). I’ve removed the trellis they were on as it was collapsing and had to cut them back to ground level. Will they come back from such a harsh pruning?
    I honestly don’t know, Diane. This rose blooms from old wood and experts advise avoiding severe pruning of old branches. You haven’t said where you live, so I don’t know what conditions your area is experiencing. As a perennial, Banksia roses can store carbs for growth in their root system and may produce shoots from the base. I would say keep the soil around it just damp, and keep your fingers crossed.

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