Just about the whole world is in love with hybrid tea roses. They just don’t know it yet. “Hybrid teas”, as rose enthusiasts refer to them as, are the classically styled rose that we think of during Valentine’s Day and for romance. The bud shape of hybrid teas has been refined by growers for over a century to produce this modern, idealized rose.
Hybrid tea roses were first created in the late nineteenth century through the hybridizing of Perpetuals with tea roses. The resulting bushes produce beautifully pointed buds that open into a swirl of petals. The blooms are large and partially open, with an almost conelike shape. Most teas have one flower per stem, which makes them ideal as a cut flower. Some varietals, however, produce a central flower surrounded by several other blooms. The bushes tend to stand stiffly upright with sparse foliage. Plants vary in form from elegantly tall to spreading and bushy.
The color range of hybrid tea roses is astounding. They come in almost any color imaginable, except for blue and black, though some growers are working very hard to create the elusive true black or blue rose. Varietals exist in all the traditional rose colors, as well as apricot, copper, orange, scarlet, lavender, gray, and even brown. Hybrid teas bloom on and off throughout the season in flushes, rather than producing continuously. They are prized as bedding plants. Many gardeners like to showcase them by mixing them with perennial flowers.
All hybrid teas are grown by budding and grafting. The rootstock onto which they are attached may send out suckers, which should be removed as soon as they appear. Some do not do well in colder climates, so consult your local grower when picking a varietal. Buy yours as early in the season as possible, as they deteriorate rapidly in packaging.
Always buy quality plants that have won at least one prize. Also, you will have much more success if you buy and grow hybrid teas that other rose gardeners in your area have had success with. As most gardeners know, you can not beat Mother Nature, but you can work with her.
When planting hybrid teas, the bud union should be one-half below and one-half above the soil. It is very important to get the “crown”, or the bud union, placed right at the soil height or you will have trouble with the rose for its whole life. You will also need to give them plenty of sunlight — at least four hours of unfiltered shade a day. Morning light is better than the hotter, more intense afternoon sun, especially if you live in the South or the West. Of course, you’ll be mulching your roses as well, putting four or more inches of good compost over them to reduce the temperature extremes of night and day.
Each plant should have at least three canes. Hybrid teas are higher maintenance overall than many of the other roses, so pick them only if you are willing to commit to a schedule of care. If possible, look for hybrid teas that have resistance to common rose diseases or conditions in your area. Roses with black-spot resistance, for example, are a good choice if that’s a problem where you live.
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