We see hybrid tea roses every day, in flower shops and growing gardens. These “regular roses” are the long-stemmed roses often found in bouquets. Hybrid tea roses are known for their large buds, full blooms and scent. They were created by cross-pollinating hybrid perpetual roses and tea roses and are the ancestors of today’s modern rose. What you might think of as a common rose is referred to as “the nobility of the rose world,” according to the book “Beautiful Roses Made Easy” by Terri Dunn and Ciscoe Morris.
Nature was responsible for the first early hybrid tea roses. Early cultivars were open-pollinated by birds and insects. Early hybrid tea roses did not have unique characteristics that would have granted them status as a new cultivar. Jean-Baptiste Guillot in 1867 discovered “La France” growing in a garden patch. The identity of the parent plants is unknown; it is believed that they were a cross between “Mme Victor Verdier” (hybrid perpetual rose) and “Mme Bravy” (a tea rose) or a seedling from “Mme Falcot” (a tea rose) and an unknown perpetual rose. It was the first natural cross between a perpetual rose and a tea rose and became the prototype of the new rose breed. In 1879, Henry Bennet presented 10 new varieties that he had artificially pollinated. He was the first to record the parentage of each new variety.
“Victor Verdier,” introduced in 1859 by Henry Bennet, is considered the seed parent to early hybrid tea roses. It did not exemplify tea rose qualities though its parentage had the qualities. “Captain Christy” was developed in 1873 by Jules Gavereaux and is thought to be one of the earliest hybrid tea roses. Monsieur J. Pernet-Ducher introduced several varieties in 1900. These set the standard for the development of modern hybrid tea roses. In 1945, “Peace” cultivars were introduced. “Peace” officially separated the early hybrid tea roses from the modern standard we are familiar with today.
Early hybrid tea rose cultivars are still available today. The flowers have five to seven petals that form a tea cup shape. Tea roses bloom a single flower per stem. Stems are long, straight and upright with thorns that alternate along its length. Blooms can be up to 5 inches in diameter and bushes grow to 6 feet tall. The range of colors available for tea roses is dramatic. Red, pink, white and yellow are the most common basic colors and available in various ranges. Tea roses also have variegated petals that often display a second color.
Rose gardens date back to the Egyptian pharaohs. Early hybrid tea roses were developed in gardens in both France and England. Hybrid roses were brought to the United States in the late 1800s. Famous gardens around the world work to preserve the cultivars of the early hybrid tea roses. Australia, Belgium, England, France, Italy and Germany are home to some of the largest rose gardens in the world. In the United States, 39 states plus the District of Columbia house about 80 gardens dedicated to growing roses, including early hybrid tea roses.
The intention of someone who gives roses has long been determined by the color of the rose that he delivers. Red roses, in their various shades, are all associated with love and desire. Yellow roses during Victorian times indicated jealousy. Now they are presented in friendship, sympathy and domestic happiness. The white rose carries many different symbols depending on culture; most commonly it is a sign of platonic love and innocence. Pink roses symbolize elegance and refinement. Purple roses signify enchantment. Orange symbolizes pride. Fantasy and hope are represented by blue roses. Black is often considered a symbol of death, but it also signifies rebirth.