Hybrids, Teas, Floribundas, Grandiflora- the world of roses are so vast and confused that even the most experienced gardener may find himself or herself confused. So what exactly are hybrid tea roses? Hybrid tea roses are the result of crossing the Hybrid Perpetual (a European rose) with the Tea rose from China.
Simply stated, hybrid tea roses are the roses you see in the florist’s window in the days following up to Valentine’s Day. Hybrid tea roses are the classic image of rose beauty. They have large blooms (typically 6 inches in diameter), and usually only produce one bloom per stem. The bloom unfolds elegantly, with large velvet petals that spiral out from the center in mesmerizing layers.
Hybrid tea roses are a favorite of gardeners who love to cut long-stemmed flowers to put on display. They are also a favorite of photographers who love to capture the explosion of petals and colors that hybrid tea roses offer. Because they are known to flower continuously, hybrid tea roses are often referred to as ever blooming or monthly roses.
Tea Rose History
Hybrid tea roses became wildly popular in the middle of the nineteenth century, when they became “the” rose to have in the garden. The Victorian Era saw a flurry of experimentation with cross pollinization among plant breeders, eventually resulting in the culmination of hybridized tea roses.
Victorian Era plant breeders sought to balance elegance and beauty with perpetual flowering, and they seemed to achieve this in the propagation of hybrid tea roses. The Tea rose, admired for its repeated blooms, was the perfect complement for the Hybrid Perpetual.
The “La France” is generally considered to be the first official hybrid tea rose, although breeders did not keep accurate records in those days. A Frenchman popularly referred to as Giullot, in 1867, discovered it. It is said that his discovery of the La France was an accident.
He was attempting to produce a large bright yellow rose, but instead produced a rose with silvery-pink blooms that turned bright pink at the tip of the petals. The flower was fragrant and very large (nearly 5 inches in diameter) for its time. The large bloom and dramatic colors of the La France made it the star of its day.
Hybrid Tea roses continued to grow in popularity. Their long “lollipop” stems allowed for clear visibility of the bloom and easy cutting. With their vivid color designs and the elegance of their unfurling buds, they were perceived as much more dramatic than previous roses. Perhaps most importantly, hybrid tea roses produced larger and more frequent blooms.
Today, hybrid tea roses are much more commonly grown for cut flowers. They are no longer as prominent in landscape settings as they were during the Victorian Era. However, if you’d like to add the classic beauty of the hybrid tea rose to your garden, here are a few tips on choosing the right hybrid tea rose for you.
Tea Rose Choices
Do you want big blooms on long stems that you can arrange and put on display? Hybrid tea roses are probably for you. If you’re looking for roses to landscape your home, consider Grandifloras or climbing roses, instead.
Do you want a rose that emits a strong fragrance? If this is the case, hybrid tea roses may not be for you. Hybrid tea roses usually only give off a faint scent.
Do you want a relatively low-maintenance rose, or are you willing to water every day in during the hot summer months? In general, hybrid tea roses require a lot of water, especially during hot weather. If you’re not prepared to do a lot of watering, hybrid tea roses may not be your best choice. Also, hybrid tea roses do not enjoy the company of weeds, so be prepared to provide proper maintenance.
Can you deal with thorns? Hybrid tea roses are notorious for their thorns. If you don’t think you’ll have the patience to deal with this thorny issue, you might want to reconsider hybrid tea roses. However, breeders have been able to produce several thornless varieties of hybrid tea roses. These thornless roses might be a little more expensive and difficult to find, but the trouble is most definitely offset by their beauty.