How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Hybrid Tea Roses

For the cut flower garden, there is no plant more perfect than the classic hybrid tea rose. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss tells you all you need to know to get started with these beautiful plants in your own garden.

Yellow hybrid tea roses bask in warm sunlight, their vibrant petals aglow with a golden hue. Among them, another variety stands tall with delicate white petals adorned with charming pink spots, harmonizing with lush, deep green leaves.

Contents

As flowering plants go, there is little doubt that roses are among the most popular and sought-after. At least, I can think of few plants as widely written about and with such a rich and storied breeding history. Roses come in a rainbow of colors and a wide range of sizes and growth habits. They range from miniatures to voluminous vining types. 

If you are looking for a rose bush for your cutting garden, you’ve probably heard that hybrid tea roses are the best type for this job. That is absolutely correct! These roses check all the boxes in terms of cut flowers, and they do it in grand fashion.

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Overview

A close-up showcases delicate hybrid tea roses, their petals gracefully unfurling in a blend of white and delicate pink hues. The intricate details reveal subtle gradients, as the soft edges blush with a gentle hint of rosy warmth.
Tea Roses are perennial plants with a height ranging from 3 to 8 feet.
Plant Type Perennial
Family Rosaceae
Genus Rosa
Native Area Hybrid, no native range
Hardiness: 5-9
Season Fall, spring, summer
Exposure Full sun
Plant Spacing 3’-6’
Planting Depth 16”-24”
Height 3’-8’
Watering Requirements Deep, Infrequent
Pests and Diseases Aphids, Japanese Beetles, mites, botrytis blight, black spot disease, crown gall, powdery mildew, downy mildew, verticillium wilt, rose rosette
Maintenance Moderate
Soil Type Well-drained, Loamy
Soil pH Neutral (6)

What are Hybrid Tea Roses?

These are not your grandmother’s garden roses. Hybrid tea roses are hybrid plants that hybridizers choose for specific traits. These traits are desirable, particularly as cut flowers. These are the roses that you see in stores with single, perfectly formed blooms at the end of each long, straight stem. 

They typically have large, showy flowers. They grow on bushes with an upright growth habit. This is a shift from the rambling, trailing, or shrubby habits of older heirloom varieties. Each is beautiful in its own right. However, while an heirloom rose might look great in the ornamental garden, they’re not the best for cutting.  Hybrid teas are undeniably the right choice for the cutting garden.

History

Soft pink hybrid tea roses in full bloom, their delicate petals unfurling gracefully under the sunlight, exude a subtle fragrance. Below them, lush green leaves provide a vibrant contrast, offering a verdant bed for the blooming beauties to rest upon.
Pink ‘La France’ was bred by Jean Baptiste Andre Guillot in 1867.

Hybrid tea roses are, essentially, a resurrection of a beloved garden classic. The European garden roses of antiquity are stunning plants. However, each stem only blooms once per year, and so in terms of cut flowers, their seasonality is limiting. In the mid-1800s, two varieties of Chinese roses, R. chinensis and R. gigantea, were introduced in Europe, and the first hybrids were born in France not long after.

Jean Baptiste Andre Guillot bred the first hybrid tea in 1867. Guillot was best known for his work as a rose hybridizer. He named his first cultivar ‘La France.’ A debate exists surrounding this rose, as some believe that it was merely a chance seedling. That is, as opposed to an intentional hybrid. 

In his personal records, Guillot refers to his ‘La France’ rose as a hybrid Bourbon rose. These are characterized by a larger, more rambling habit than the later Hybrid Perpetual roses. Most modern roses are descendants of these. Either way, this rose gets credit for being the beginning of hybridization. It is a stunning cultivar with large, soft pink blooms.

Roses saw a rise in popularity in the early 1900s. Many cultivars came out of France and England during this time. These roses were viewed as flowers for the wealthy and symbols of opulence and affluence. 

Over time, these roses and their offspring have continued to be developed. They contain desirable traits such as their long stems and single blooms that make them so excellent for use in floristry. The wonderful scent of their ancestors is sometimes lost in these hybrids.  In many cases, though, this is also viewed as a desirable trait and was maintained.

Native Area

An apricot rose in full bloom, showcasing delicate petals and a rich color palette against a soft background. The elegant flower is complemented by lush green leaves, creating a picturesque contrast in the garden.
These roses originated from ancestors in China and Europe.

Hybrid tea roses have no true native area, although one could argue that France holds that title. Rather, they are the products of ancestors originating in China.

Hybridizers combine these with those native to Europe and other parts of the world. As hybrids, however, we typically say that they have no native environment

Characteristics

A hybrid tea rose displays its delicate beauty, showcasing white petals tinged with pink along the edges. Its green leaves provide a striking contrast, adding depth to the captivating elegance of the flower.
The roses are specifically bred to excel as cut flowers.

Hybrid tea roses are different from the roses that came before. These flowers are bred to be better for use as cut flowers. As such, they have some of the very best characteristics of other types of roses. Meanwhile, they also have characteristics desirable in cut roses. 

Those long-stem roses we get from florists and the store around Valentine’s Day didn’t just show up with those long stems. Old roses don’t always have such perfectly proportioned flowers, either. Those characteristics were deliberate on the part of the hybridizers. In addition to those nice, straight stems, hybrid teas tend to only have one large flower at the end of the stems. 

The flowers are large and balanced in shape, with pointed buds that open to wide, high-centered blooms. In terms of fragrance, some are very fragrant, while others may be less so. Go to the store sometime and smell different varieties. You will notice the difference from one to another. 

They are free-branching and tend to have an upright growth habit. Their long stems grow upward, which is what keeps them nice, straight, and strong. The nicest thing about these plants is that they are repeat bloomers. 

Unlike the Old Garden Roses that they were bred from, they don’t have a single blooming season per year. When grown in a hot house, they can bloom year-round. This is another trait that makes them very popular in floristry. It makes them available all year rather than only in the spring.

Uses

A light pink rose in bud is visited by a fuzzy bee.
Long, slender stems and long-lasting blooms make these flowers ideal in cutting gardens.

Hybrid teas are wonderful in the garden. They have those lovely flowers that make them highly desirable. While they do nicely in flower beds, it is in the cutting garden that these roses have the most value. We can eat roses and use them to make teas, jams, and baked goods, as well as use them as a garnish.

Rose oil has several medicinal and cosmetic uses. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Some use it as an astringent. Some even claim it has aphrodisiac properties. Hybrid tea roses don’t get used as commonly as some heirloom types when it comes to extracting oils, though. Their primary use is ornamental.

Where to Buy

rose buying factors
Tea roses are readily available for purchase at nurseries and online.

It’s not difficult to find hybrid teas for sale both at nurseries and online. You will find bare-root roses for sale in late winter or early spring for spring planting. This gives these plants ample time to establish roots before the following winter.

Some varieties are more common and popular than others. You can order many varieties online and through catalogs if you’re unable to find them locally. 

Planting

A red rose, its petals delicately unfurling in intricate layers, emanating a captivating allure. In the background, blurred foliage gently frames the focal beauty, adding a sense of serenity to the vivid display of nature's elegance.
Plant roses while they are dormant.

You can plant roses at any time of year depending on your climate, but planting while they are dormant in spring or fall is most effective. In colder climates, these plants can go into the ground in the fall. Meanwhile, in warmer climates, anytime from fall to spring is perfectly fine. Space your rose plants about three to six feet apart. 

Since most tea roses have grafted rootstock, you should account for this when planting them. Dig a hole that is wide and deep enough to accommodate the roots of the plant. In cold climates, plant the roots so that the graft is an inch or two below the ground. In warmer climates, the graft union should be an inch or two above the ground. 

Create a mound of soil in the middle if you’re planting a bare-root rose, and spread the roots over the mound. If not, place the root ball in the hole and position your rose in the direction you want it to grow. When you backfill, mix the soil with some well-rotted compost or manure. Then gently pack the soil to avoid air holes that can form pockets of cold air.  

How to Grow

These are not low-maintenance plants, sadly. Their Old Garden ancestors are well-adapted and resistant to pests, diseases, and adverse conditions. Hybrid tea roses are more sensitive and need some extra TLC to keep them happy and healthy.

Light

Two hybrid tea roses, their petals a blend of delicate pink and vibrant fuchsia, bask in the warm sunlight, exuding elegance. The backdrop softly blurs, revealing mulched earth and grasses, creating a serene garden scene.
The roses should receive 6 to 8 hours of morning sun.

Roses are full sun loving plants. Getting the right amount of sun is important for flower development. It is also important for preventing certain diseases and strengthening those long stems. Ending up with floppy stems can be heartbreaking with one of these plants.

Full sun doesn’t necessarily mean that your roses need to be in direct sunlight throughout the entire day, though. It is possible to overdo it and scorch their leaves. In general, the morning sun is safer because it is cooler.

The afternoon sun can be hot and harsh. The ideal situation is one where your rosebush receives six to eight hours of sun early in the day. Then it should receive some shade in the afternoon, especially in hot climates.

Water

A close-up of a yellow hybrid tea rose, adorned with delicate purple edges, showcasing nature's artistic fusion. The petals sparkle with morning dew, adding a mesmerizing touch to its beauty.
Water deeply every 7 to 10 days.

Hybrid tea roses are not drought tolerant, and in the absence of rain, you will want to water them regularly. That said, the trick to watering roses is not to water frequently but rather to water deeply. In most climates, watering your rose every seven to 10 days will be sufficient. Just remember to give the plant a nice, long drink, allowing it to soak in as much water as it needs. 

In the summer and for potted roses, you want to water more often. They will dry out faster with less soil, and in soil that dries faster because of the heat, which speeds evaporation. In this case, and especially in times of drought, you can water as often as every two days. 

Soil

Two hands cradling rich brown soil, fingers gently sifting through the earth. In the background, a soft blur hints at the vast expanse of fertile ground awaiting nurturing care and cultivation.
Prioritize soil with good drainage and add compost.

The two most important soil factors in the soil are drainage and nutrient composition. Roses are heavy feeders, so planting them in poor soil types will make them considerably more difficult to tend to. Drainage is important because roses do not like to have wet feet

You may discover that your soil is either devoid of nutrients or has poor drainage because of its composition. Mixing compost or other organic matter into the soil before planting can be helpful. If you know that the drainage issue is due to the location, it is more difficult to correct this. You are better off choosing a different location.

Temperature and Humidity

Vibrant pink roses bloom elegantly, showcasing their delicate petals in full bloom. Adjacent, lush green leaves provide a rich backdrop, accentuating the floral display with their verdant hues and intricate textures.
Extreme temperature shifts can be detrimental to roses.

This is another area where hybrid teas can be a bit sensitive and need some extra care. These plants are hardy to zone 5 and can handle cold weather, but they struggle with extreme temperature shifts. If you experience a warm spell in winter that quickly turns to freezing weather, it may harm your rose. 

Take precautions in this event by mulching around the bottom of your rose and watering it well before the freeze. A hydrated plant is stronger and stands up better to cold weather. You can also cover your roses to insulate them from extreme temperatures. 

They are typically tolerant of warm, humid weather. But look out for fungal diseases such as powdery mildew in humid climates. Some varieties are more resistant to fungal disease, and these are best for humid climates. 

Fertilizing

A hand, up close, holds brown organic fertilizer granules, ready to nourish the soil. As the granules release their nutrients, a thriving plant eagerly awaits, poised to benefit from the rich organic nourishment bestowed upon it.
Feed regularly with compost or organic fertilizers.

Roses are heavy feeders, so they do need a steady influx of nutrients to produce those rather substantial flowers. Mix some compost in with your soil before planting. This will give your rose a good start and some nutrients that will break down slowly over time. I prefer to use organic fertilizers. Although they take longer to break down, you run less risk of over-fertilizing.  

Whether you choose organic or synthetic fertilizer is up to your personal preference, but a balanced all-purpose fertilizer will work, or a specialty rose fertilizer is good if you prefer that. About a month after planting, use a water-soluble fertilizer to help your plant get off on the right foot. 

Since hybrid teas are repeat bloomers, they can take fertilizer more often than other types that only bloom seasonally. In fact, they will need it if you want them to keep blooming. When your new growth is about six inches long, give another application of fertilizer. From here, fertilize every two to three weeks throughout the summer

Maintenance

With careful attention, the gardener, clad in yellow gloves, readies red pruning shears under the sun's glow. Pink flowers of a hybrid tea rose await the gentle touch, signifying a moment of horticultural artistry in motion.
Prune while your rose is dormant in fall, late winter, or early spring.

Hybrid tea roses do need regular pruning to keep producing flowers. The time to prune is in late winter or early spring, while the plant is dormant but after the threat of frost. Remove all dead and damaged branches first. For frost-damaged wood, cut branches back until you reach live wood. 

Cut the longer branches back, leaving about four to six buds or about a foot from the graft. Cut any small shoots back harder, leaving only a few inches of growth above the ground. 

As your plant ages and the canes get thick and tough, it is perfectly fine to hard prune your plant. You can cut it all the way to the ground to give it a fresh start. Just don’t cut below the graft. Remove any shoots that emerge from below the graft, as these will be of the rootstock variety.

Growing in Containers

A brown pot displays a vibrant arrangement of orange and pink roses, their delicate petals opening gracefully. Lush green leaves provide a verdant backdrop, enhancing the blossoms' natural beauty.
Choose smaller varieties under 4 feet tall for successful container gardening.

Smaller varieties make good container plants. Any variety that tops out at or below four feet tall is appropriate for planting in a container. Choose a container at least 20” in diameter and slightly deeper than the root ball of the rose. The container should have a drainage hole as well. Use a potting mix with good drainage, and mix in some compost or manure for additional nutrients. 

Potted roses need more water. They need water more frequently, so pay attention to your soil’s moisture level and keep the plant well watered. A dehydrated rose is a rose that is unlikely to flower. Repot your rose every two to three years or when it has outgrown the container. 

Potted roses are less tolerant of cold weather than those in the ground, as they lack the insulation of the soil. Move your potted roses indoors during freezing weather. A garage or shed is fine, and you can also insulate your pot or bury the pot in the ground. These methods will offer protection as well. 

Propagation

Black pots stand in close proximity, neatly aligned. Each pot contains rich mulched soil, housing delicate stems undergoing the process of bud grafting, promising future growth and vitality in the garden.
Grafting is preferred for propagating tea roses to ensure disease resistance.

The most common type of propagation for tea roses is by grafting. This way, the hybrid rose gets all the benefits of a more disease-resistant, hardier rootstock. For this reason, we don’t recommend propagation from cuttings. Propagating from cuttings will generally lead to weaker plants that are more susceptible to disease. 

Perfume Factory

A 'Perfume Factory' purple hybrid tea rose exhibits deep, velvety petals, enticing with a rich, intoxicating aroma. Its intricate layers unfurl gracefully, showcasing a mesmerizing blend of royal purple hues, captivating every onlooker with its elegant allure.
‘Perfume Factory’ is known for its large purple flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa x Perfume Factory
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3’-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6-10

Not all hybrid tea roses are very fragrant, but you can probably tell by the name that this one is! ‘Perfume Factory’ is a small to medium-sized plant with large (4”) gorgeous purple flowers.

As the blooms open, a deeper, brighter shade of pinkish purple is revealed in the center. ‘Perfume Factory’ begins blooming in early summer and has a fruity and slightly spicy fragrance

Love at First Sight

A close-up captures the muted hues of a purple 'Love at First Sight' rose, its delicate petals unfurling in exquisite beauty. Behind it, lush green leaves provide a verdant backdrop, enhancing the rose's captivating charm and natural allure.
This is a petite rose variety with stunning bi-color flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa x Love at First Sight
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3’-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Another petite variety, ‘Love at First Sight,’ makes a nice container plant. While this is not quite as fragrant as some others, the flowers are quite stunning, with bi-color petals that are white on the outside and red in the center.

The flowers are a nice size at three to four inches across and have a plump and rounded appearance. The fragrance, though mild, is slightly fruity. 

Mister Lincoln

A close-up reveals the intricate petals of red 'Mister Lincoln' roses, their rich hue captivating against the backdrop. Softly blurred foliage complements, enhancing the focal beauty of the blooms in this captivating floral portrait.
‘Mister Lincoln’ is a highly sought-after variety with striking scarlet flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa x Mister Lincoln
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-10

This well-known, award-winning cultivar is among the most popular and highly sought-after varieties. This large, vigorous grower produces the more striking, extra large (4”-6”) flowers in a glowing shade of scarlet.

In addition to its visual appeal, ‘Mr. Lincoln’ is known for excellent heat tolerance and hardiness. The beautiful blooms are also strongly scented with a fruity fragrance. 

Just Joey

A radiant 'Just Joey' rose in close-up, its orange petals illuminated by the warm sunlight. Nestled beside it, a budding rose promises the continuation of this elegant display, hinting at the imminent bloom to come.
The ‘Just Joey’ rose boasts eat tolerance and fragrant apricot blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa x Just Joey
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4′-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-10

‘Just Joey’ is a very heat-tolerant variety but doesn’t thrive in colder climates. Its large (5”), fragrant blooms are a wonderful shade of apricot with deep copper veining on its wavy petals. This rose is a continuous bloomer and can be easily grown in a container and brought indoors for the winter if you want to grow this one in a cooler climate. 

Royal Welcome

A close-up of a 'Royal Welcome' rose, its petals bathed in sunlight, showcases a mesmerizing transition from yellow to pink hues. Each petal delicately unfolds, revealing nature's exquisite artistry in full bloom under the golden rays.
This disease-resistant rose grows on a lush shrub with glossy foliage.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa x Royal Welcome
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4’-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-10

This disease-resistant variety is a stunner in the cutting garden or any place for that matter. The blooms are medium to large (4”), and a blend of several shades, from yellow in the center to pink at the edges, with touches of cream. These are moderately scented with a slightly spicy fragrance and grow on a nice-sized shrub with deep green, glossy foliage. 

Common Problems

Hybrid teas are not without their issues, and as I mentioned, they tend to be up there on the maintenance scale. Pay close attention to your rose bushes. Regular inspection of leaves is a good way to head off most of these issues early on before damage occurs.

Keep your plants healthy and strong by fertilizing and keeping them watered. This will go a long way in helping to protect them from pests and disease

Pests

A vivid close-up captures the intricate beauty of a pink rose and a chafer beetle pest.
Protect hybrid tea roses from pests by promptly treating any insect damage with neem oil.

Certain common garden pests like beetles, aphids, spider mites, and slugs can be an issue. Keep an eye out for insect damage and treat it right away to preserve the integrity of the plant. Neem oil is a great tool for getting rid of most insects, but be careful as it also harms pollinators.

With mites and aphids, a blast of water should knock them from the plant and deter their feeding. Regular inspecting and wiping down the plant will prevent any fungal issues that can develop from their excretion of honeydew.

Diseases

A diseased rose bush displaying signs of distress. Pink roses once vibrant now withered and brown. Meanwhile, the foliage bears evidence of infestation, as numerous holes mar its verdant surface.
Ensure proper plant drainage and watering to prevent fungal diseases.

Some of the more common diseases to look for are botrytis blight, crown rot, and leaf spot diseases. Fungal diseases are usually the result of poor drainage, overwatering, and poor air circulation. Keeping your plants pruned and planted properly will help to head off issues like these.

Crown gall, powdery mildew, downy mildew, and verticillium wilt are issues you can face when it comes to less disease-resistant varieties. Monitor for any powdery substances on the leaf surface or undersides. Look for rotten and wilting plant parts. Deal with these issues by removing damaged areas and continue to monitor.

Rose rosette is a viral disease spread by a mite that causes deformation of new growth, which emerges extra red, and extra thorny. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease, and plants must be removed and burned to prevent its spread.

Not Flowering

A verdant rose bush stands with deep green leaves. Amidst its foliage, three radiant red roses bloom, each petal a testament to nature's exquisite artistry and delicate beauty.
Insufficient sunlight or water can hinder a rose’s flowering.

A lack of sunlight is the usual suspect when a rose isn’t flowering. But it could be a lack of nutrients or water as well. Keeping up with those elements of plant care should put your rose on track to blooming in no time

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Hybrid Tea Roses Climb?

In general, no, they are shrubs, and if not pruned, they will become leggy and bloom poorly. However, there are a small number of varieties that do have more of a vining habit. These can be trained to climb, although not as tall as other climbing varieties.

Are Hybrid Tea Roses Poisonous to Pets?

No, roses are edible and will not harm your pet or humans if ingested. Roses are often used as garnish and in baking and making jams. However, Damask roses are most commonly used for their highly fragrant blooms that are more concentrated than other roses.

Can Hybrid Tea Roses be Grown Indoors?

Not really. If you have a very sunny space inside the home, it is possible to grow some of the miniature types, but in general, they do not make great houseplants.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a rose to add to the cutting garden, hybrid tea roses are the plants for the job. These plants produce some of the most beautiful and popular flowers around. While they can be a bit finicky and require a fair amount of care and attention, those gorgeous blooms are worth the effort. With some tending, these plants will bloom beautifully for you.

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