Travel to Arizona to See the World’s Largest Rose Bush

Updated: Aug. 19, 2020

The world's largest rosebush spreads over 8,000 square feet and is found in Tombstone, Arizona, a town known for its gunfights rather than its flower gardens.

Do you like roses? Throughout history, roses have been a most favorite flower. It is hard to beat its beautiful, ruffled blossoms and fragrance.

Have you ever seen a large rosebush? I recently had the opportunity to see the world’s largest rosebush. It is located in a rather unexpected place—Tombstone, Arizona, which is a place better know for its immortalized gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

While my husband was excited to tour the historic sites throughout the town, I was looking forward to seeing the enormous rosebush that I had heard so much about.

World’s Largest Rosebush

To see the rose, you have to enter the Rose Inn and walk through the small museum toward the back garden.

World's Largest Rosebush

We walked onto a brick patio that was covered by the dappled shade from the rose’s outer branches.

World's Largest Rose Bush

Although I was expecting the rosebush to be large, I was still surprised at the sheer enormity of it. You can see me standing next to the rosebush to get an idea of the scale (I am rather tall 5’9″).

World's Largest Rosebush Tombstone

As you walk to the other side, you can get a better view of the entire rosebush, which is supported by a lattice made of metal rods supported by wooden poles. The rose bush is 8,000 square feet wide!

The history of the rosebush is quite interesting. It was planted in 1887 by a Scottish immigrant who was homesick for her homeland. Her family sent her a box of cutting from her favorite rosebush from the family home in Scotland. She shared one of the cuttings with her best friend and helped her plant it in the back of the boardinghouse she owned.

As the rosebush grew, it began to attract notice at how large it was. In the 1930’s, it was named the “World’s Largest Rosebush”, a title it still holds today.

Lady Banks Rose

The rose bush is a Lady Bank’s rose (Rosa banksiae) which is thornless and can be grown as a climber or ground cover.  It is hardy to zones 8 – 11.  Small, fragrant roses appear in March and April that absolutely cover this large rose bush.  It is said that the blossoms smell like violets.

Tombstone Rose-013

To see the roses, you have to climb up onto a small stand where you view the roses borne atop the large rosebush.

Although it was not in flower when I visited, it was still truly impressive in its scale. Who would have expected a rose that came from Scotland would thrive in this hot, dry desert town?

Cuttings of this magnificent rosebush were offered for sale and I couldn’t resist buying one for my own flower garden.