Roses are known for both their beauty and their thorns, but did you know that they don’t have “thorns” at all? They’re actually known as prickles, though that doesn’t stop them from drawing blood. Fortunately, there is quite a wide array of thornless and nearly-thornless roses available.
Whether you want to cultivate a unique flower garden that’s safe for your own kids at home, or you’re designing an ouch-free public garden space, these thornless (and almost-thornless) varieties are the best options available.
1. Amadis Rambler
These thornless “rambling” roses are perfect for arbors and pergolas in your garden. However, you really need to take advantage of them while they last, as this type of rose won’t bloom for long, nor offer much fragrance.
2. A Shropshire Lad
Shropshire Lad roses are David Austin English climbing roses. They come with a soft peachy-pink color and a fruity fragrance that’ common to most tea roses. You can grow these nearly thornless roses as a border near your property line, or extend them up a wall with a support ladder.
Either way, make sure to give it a trellis or such as it can grow up to 8 feet tall. They’re also unique in that they’re quite hardy, and they’ll grow on a north wall with partial shade.
3. Blue Magenta
The darkest violet climber you can find, the Blue Magenta changes in color from blue to violet to dark purple. The range of colors can last for a few weeks, although the rose will appear pink over the first two years. It’s lightly fragrant and tolerant of shade.
Chloris is a nearly thornless hybrid rose that offers a beautiful, sweet-smelling fragrance. You can train the long canes that grow from the plant to grow horizontally for a more lateral bloom, or allow the shrub to prosper on its own. Its delicate pale pink blooms will show up in the summer.
5. Cinderella Miniature
The Cinderella’s blooms are tiny, and they range in color from white to pink depending on the temperature and season. The flowers are mostly white in hot climates, while they can appear light pink in the early spring months or when cultivated in colder climates. Use this bush as a small hedge, as it can reach 3 feet in height. The roses are drought-resistant, although miniatures tend to need a lot of sunlight.
6. Rosa Goldfinch
This nearly thornless multicolored rambling rose grows in a large cluster of tiny yellow and white flowers. They offer a strong fruity scent, and can extend up to 10 feet tall. With full sun, the roses will bloom in early spring or late summer. It’s less vigorous than many rose varieties, but you can train the branches to cascade downward to bloom more.
7. Hippolyte Gallica
Hippolyte’s tiny blooms start out with a crimson-purple color when young, and they change into a more grape-mauve color as the plant matures. With a mild sent typically of flowers from the Gallica family, this rose will grow taller than most Gallica varieties and can survive with little to no care.
8. Irene Marie Miniature
A dwarf or miniature rose, Irene Marie is a variety known for its bright yellow color outlined in bright orange. The bold blooms are disease-resistant, making it easy to care for. These entirely thornless roses have no fragrance, but they make up for a lack of scent with their eye-catching hues.
9. Kathleen Harrop
This is a soft pink version of the well-known variety known as Zephirine Drouhin. It’s a thornless rose that climbs just as well, and offers a color many people find more pleasing. It’s also less vigorous in growth, but very fragrant. Kathleen Harrop roses can grow up to around 8 to 10 feet tall, and the light pink blooms will show up repeatedly throughout the spring and summer months.
Train it to climb up a wall, or use an archway in your garden to showcase its lovely blooms.
10. Lady Banks
This nearly thornless climbing rose is vigorous, and perfect for arbors. The small yellow double blooms offer a slight fragrance, and the plant comes with rich green foliage. It can grow in colder climates as well but is especially hardy when planted in zone 7. Grow this plant in full sun to light shade with moist, well-draining soil, and be careful not to over-prune the older branches.
11. Leander Hybrid Tea Rose
Large shrubs of hybrid tea roses work especially well in garden beds. The Leander group offers large blooms ranging from yellow to apricot and pink, with a strong, slightly fruity fragrance. These are hardy, nearly thornless roses that grow best in zones 5-11, and will deliver blooms throughout the seasons.
This plant needs particular attention to help it live a long, healthy life. in fact, previous experience in caring for roses is ideal if you’d like to cultivate this variety. Partial sun and medium waterings are ideal, as well as loamy soil with a pH balance between 5.5 and 7.
These medium-sized, strongly fragrant blooms offer a creamy white with hints of yellow and pink that grow in clusters. Lykkefund, which means “lucky find,” will deliver lots of flowers, and the deep green, glossy foliage is entirely free of thorns. It will bloom once in late spring or early summer. If you choose these thornless roses, make sure you have plenty of garden space to offer. They require plenty of room to grow ,and can reach over 15 feet in height.
13. Mme Madame Alfred Carriere
Madame Alfred nearly thornless roses will grow vigorously in the summer and fall. This climber is great for archways, and it’s a hardy plant that often remains disease-free. It can also handle North-facing sunlight. This rose grows up to 20 feet tall and spans 10 feet wide, so make sure you have plenty of room.
14. Oceana Hybrid Tea Rose
The Oceana Hybrid Tea rose is an incredibly popular choice in cut flower arrangements. This is likely because it comes in a creamy apricot or peach color that’s often tough to find. It’s sometimes called “Osiana”, and this thornless rose typically originates from South America. It offers a lovely scent, and the bloom opens into a classic, elegant rose shape that’s popular at Easter gatherings and spring weddings alike.
15. Outta The Blue Shrub Rose
A shrub heirloom rose, Outta the Blue is a variety that comes in striking blueish purple shades. It’s moderately fragrant, free flowering, and totally vigorous. Colors may vary based on your climate or the season, or they may vary by the day. This hardy plant can survive poor soil, drought, and disease, and it matures at around 6 feet tall.
16. Reine des Violettes
Reine des Violettes is a recurrent bloomer that bears violet-colored flowers as the name suggests. These highly fragrant, nearly thornless roses are highly sought after and can grow up to 10 feet tall. Grow them as a shrub or a climber, and keep the soil moist. Then, you can expect to see the soft, velvety flowers appear throughout the summer.
17. Smooth Prince Hybrid Tea Rose
One of five modern “smooth” hybrid rose varieties created in the 1980s, the Smooth Prince is known for its cerise red blooms and thornless availability. This tea rose hybrid cultivar offers a strong fragrance, and is deemed safe for both kids and elderly people. The medium-sized bushes produce clusters of small flowers that are hardy, disease-resistant, and grow vigorously.
A lightly fragrant rambling rose, Tausendschon offers large pink flowers in clusters, and they appear more white toward the center. Almost thornless, they were introduced in the early 1900s and flower in the summer months. The glossy foliage grows strong, with adult plants reaching around 12 feet tall on average.
Rosa Veilchenblau is a hybrid multicolor rose that grows up to 15 feet tall in full sun. It offers a stunning array of purple, blue, and crimson shaded blooms. The fragrant flowers will often blossom from May to June, and they attract butterflies to your garden.
Although it can tolerate shade, this rose is more disease-resistant under sunny conditions and will need some protection from the winter’s cold. Grow it as a shrub or a climber, as these nearly thornless roses offer great medium-green foliage.
20. Zephirine Drouhin
The Zephirine Drouhin is a bourbon rose without any thorns, and is another climbing rose that can extend up to 10 feet tall. Its cerise-pink blooms will flower freely over the warm months, and bring a nice fragrance to your home as cut flowers. You can grow these as shrubs or form a hedge, and they’re hardy plants that can handle shade, low sunlight, and poor soil.
I fell into a rose bush when I was little, and my mother and I spent the next two weeks pulling thorns from my body. It’s not an experience I will ever forget, nor wish on anyone else. Believe me when I say that a thornless rose bush is essential if you have young children.
No matter how careful they are, accidents and stumbles will always happen. Skip the prickly cultivars and grow a child-friendly thornless roses instead. They’ll thank you when they’re older—trust me.