The American Rose Society currently recognizes 37 classes of roses.
Rose is divided into 3 main groups: Species (wild) roses & their hybrids, Old Garden Roses, and Modern roses.
Species roses are typically large climbing or shrub-like roses with single, flat flowers that bloom in late spring or early summer, followed by hips (seeds) in autumn. They are the parents of the roses we have today.
Old Garden Roses (roses in existence prior to 1867) include the following classes: Alba, Ayrshire, Bourbon, Boursault, Centifolia/Cabbage, China, Damask, Gallica, Hybrid Perpetual, Moss, Noisette, Portland, and Tea.
Modern Roses (1867 and onward) are a broad mix, including the following types: Climbing, Floribunda, Grandiflora, Hybrid Musk, Hybrid Rugosa, Hybrid Tea, Landscape (including Groundcover) or Shrub, Miniature, Mini-flora, and Polyantha.
The Hybrid Tea is the starter of the modern rose class. The first one, ‘La France’, came out in surprise, surprise, 1867. They have become one of the most popular rose groups, well known for their long stems and high centers. When you think of a rose, this is probably what you’re thinking of.
Not to be confused with Tea or China tea roses, older Hybrid Teas are a cross between Hybrid Perpetuals and Tea roses. More recent Hybrid Teas (starting with the introduction of ‘Peace’ in 1946 by rose breeder Francis Meilland) generally cross of a Hybrid Tea with another Hybrid Tea.
Their large, distinctive flowers with high centers, and usual repeat blooms through the year, make them a favorite of many rose and flower lovers. They are generally heat-hardy but winter-frail. Thankfully, living in SoCal, we don’t have to worry about that. Fragrance and disease resistance varies across the class. Some have no scent at all. Others have won awards for their perfume: see orange-blend ‘Fragrant Cloud’, red and white ‘Double Delight’, and deep red ‘Mister Lincoln’.
Hybrid Teas are normally large plants, 3-4 feet diameter on average, and some can grow to be 7 feet tall, though they average between 3 and 6 feet of height. If you want longer canes for cut flowers, you just add extra fertilizer. Make sure to leave space between bushes for better airflow and for ease of pruning. This extra space is essential because these roses benefit from a hard prune in late winter/early spring, cutting back almost two-thirds of the plant.
Hybrid Teas are some of the most varied roses in color: from the red and white stripes of ’Neil Diamond’ (also fragrant), ‘Dark Night’ a velvety red that looks black in the right light with a light cream reverse (underside of petal), to ‘Green Romantica’ that is well… green. Whatever color you want, chances are you can find a Hybrid Tea in that color.
If disease resistance is what you’re looking for, then large, deep pink ‘Fiji’, red ‘Beloved’, yellow ‘Winter Sun’, or ‘Royal Welcome’ with its complex mixture of yellow, pink, and cream, might be the rose for you.
Most Hybrid Teas are grafted and grown on rootstock, though there is a growing trend in the rose world to breed hardier roses that can thrive on their own root. My advice when buying a Hybrid Tea is to 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