Roses with thorns are sought after because they may have extraordinarily lovely blooms or fragrance. As breeding stock, many thorny varieties have proved invaluable. Planting a hedge of thorn-covered roses can be very effective as a security measure, keeping undesirable elements away from the garden, or seriously defining a property line. Thorny roses climbing along a picket or rail fence increase the security and privacy of the fence.
Shrub and Moss Roses
Othello is a thorny red rose with a strong rose fragrance and large, fully double crimson blooms. Bred by David Austin and introduced in 1986, Othello will grow up to 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide. For a security hedge, plant Othello 3 feet apart. The moss rose Henry Martin will grow to 5 feet tall with reddish-purple roses once in June. Dresden Doll is a very thorny miniature moss rose bred by Ralph Moore. The warm, medium pink, fragrant little double roses grow on a thorny plant up to 1.5 feet tall.
Mermaid is a single, fragrant rose for warmer areas. The golden-yellow stamens stand out from the pure white petals for a charming continuous seasonal display. Throwing thorny canes up to 25 feet long, a Mermaid rose creates and effective security deterrent along a fence. The vigorous grower Dr. Van Fleet, also for a warmer climate, will reach 20 feet with its thorny canes, sporting fragrant pink roses once each spring. Cold-tolerant Seafoam is an Earthkind rose, designated as such by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service for low-impact maintenance roses. Reaching only 3 feet high, the long, thorny canes will grow to 5 feet for a lovely horizontal display of white double roses throughout the season.
The vigour and beauty of the Japanese Rose rugosa induced hybridisers to work with these thorny, cold-tolerant roses in the 1890s. Hansa blooms throughout the season with magenta, fully double flowers scented strongly of clove. As a thorny 6-foot shrub, Hansa suckers freely and will create an effective screen when planted as a hedge. Ralph Moore developed Topaz Jewel, with small, buttery yellow fragrant blossoms. This compact, thorny rugosa will grow at least 2 feet tall, but up to 5 feet in suitable conditions, blooming throughout the season. Conrad Ferdinand Meyer blooms in flushes through the season with fragrant, light pink double blooms on a thorny plant growing 10 feet high.
For low frost regions, the Chinese species rose Rosa sericea ptericantha has magnificent, large red thorns. This rose was introduced to market in 1890. Reaching 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide, it is grown as a specimen plant especially to display its distinguished thorns, the small, white single blossoms appearing only briefly in early spring. The individual thorns take up 2 inches each of vertical cane length, and stand more than 1 inch out from the cane. The decorative thorns are translucent, glowing crimson-red early in the season, later dulling to brown. The delicate foliage has small, finely cut leaves.