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What Are Hybrid Tea Roses?

Rebecca Cartwright
Rebecca Cartwright

Hybrid tea roses are a class of rose known for having perfect blossoms and make excellent cut roses. With well-formed centers and fully double petals, modern hybrid tea roses are, to many, the classic rose. The first of the class emerged in the mid-1800s as a cross between two older types, tea roses and hybrid perpetual roses, and the new introductions quickly gained popularity. Hybrid tea roses have more growing challenges than some other roses, but they continue to be prized and often planted.

The first cultivar recognized as the a hybrid tea rose was a spontaneous hybrid found in a rose seedling bed in France in the 1860s and introduced as La France in 1867. A cross between tea roses and hybrid perpetual roses, La France had the tea rose’s ability to bloom more than once a season and the hybrid perpetual’s tolerance of winter temperatures below freezing. French rose growers recognized the new class in 1880 and the rose society of Great Britain granted the same recognition in 1897. Deliberate hybridizing was the earmark of this new class of roses, and the introduction of hybrid tea roses marked the beginning of the modern era in rose breeding.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Hybrid tea roses have an erect growth habit with single large blossoms, or small clusters of blossoms, carried on long straight stems. Buds are large and smooth, while the fully double flowers have high centers and well-shaped petals spiraling out from the center. Each blossom can be as much as 5 inches (12.7 cm) in diameter, and the hybrids make excellent cut flowers. While some do not have much scent, many have moderate to strong complex fragrances. Hybrid tea roses come in a wide range of colors including white, yellow, orange, red, pink and lavender.

Beds for these roses should allow for plenty of room around each plant, which cuts down on disease and fungus problems. Bushes are best planted in dedicated rose beds and spaced from at least 2 feet apart (61 cm) in cold climates to as much as 4 feet (1.2 m) apart where the weather is hot and humid. They prefer moist but not waterlogged soil with a layer of mulch on top, and fertilizer should be applied at least twice a growing season. Hybrid tea roses are usually hardy to USDA zone 6 but require winter protection in the coldest of their growing range. The bushes flower on new wood and should be pruned back severely in early spring before they bud out.

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