The term “Grandiflora” was coined alongside the introduction of ‘Queen Elizabeth’, a modern pink floribunda rose introduced in 1954 by Dr. Walter E. Lammert, which didn’t quite fit the standard of hybrid teas or other floribundas. So a new class was created. This class is rarely used outside of the USA, but I think in time it will catch on.
So what is a Grandiflora, and why makes it different from hybrid teas and other floribundas? There are two notable characteristics of this group. First: they have flowers in clusters (around 3 to 5) like a floribunda, and on single stems like a hybrid tea. (Floribundas can have single stems too, but they’re not as common.) Second: their blooms (similar in form to Hybrid teas) are normally large - no small flowers here.
In our garden, we have quite a few Grandifloras. ‘About Face’, an orange blend bred by Tom Carruth, is one of our favorites and one of the first roses we planted. You’ll have seen it in the table bouquets at Garden Club before. The only negatives I have on it are that its scent is mild and it sports a healthy crop of thorns. Julia’s all-time favorite rose is also a Grandiflora: ‘Tournament of Roses’. This disease-resistant pink rose celebrates the centennial of the Pasadena Rose Parade.
If you’re interested in fragrance, try ‘Fragrant Plum’ - it’s right there in the name. (This is another rose we have in our garden.) It’s mauve in color with a strong fruity scent. ‘Sweetness’, a lavender rose, is well known for its lemony scent and makes an excellent cut flower to bring into your home. But if these purple roses aren’t your thing, try out the citrus-scented yellow rose ‘Radiant Perfume’.
Remember when I said Grandifloras look like Hybrid Teas? Well, I lied. Most look like Hybrid teas. ‘Wild Blue Yonder’, a purple rose with red edges, looks like a camellia. It’s got a strong spice fragrance and an added bonus of being heat tolerant. This is a rose that can grow in the desert. Another odd one out is ‘Tigress’, with its loose form and red and white stripes that still manages to be classified as a mauve blend. Another to look at is loosely formed, red-pink-yellow striped ‘All-American Magic’, with its mild raspberry fragrance.
Let’s keep talking about those colors; ‘Cherry Parfait’ is red and white (We have this one, too), and looks a lot like the Hybrid Tea ‘Double Delight’ (also have that). ‘Miss Congeniality’ looks like a pink and white version of those two. ‘Ch-Ching!’ is eye-searing yellow, ‘Dream Come True’ has pink edges and a yellow/orange center, and ‘Crimson Bouquet’ is, well, bright crimson. ‘Twilight Zone’ is one of the most eye-catching purple roses out there, with its dark velvety petals.
Grandifloras are, on the whole, of medium height (3-5 ft), with a bushy and upright growth habit. A.K.A., they’re a shrub that doesn’t spread. During the spring prune, you only have to cut back one-third of the plant. Take out old, dead, or diseased wood and remember to cut 1/4” above an outward-facing leaf node. (If you cut above an inner- or side-facing one, you’ll produce a cane that grows in that direction, restricting airflow through the plant.)
Like Hybrid Teas, they are often grafted and grown on rootstock. I have the same advice as last time; when buying, check when the cultivar came out and if it has a good disease resistance history. If they are an earlier rose or have a poor history, buy them on rootstock.
If the rose is more modern or has a good record, then either option should be fine.
By Jessica Lyle