Would a rose by any other name smell like brewing tea?

This column takes a look at the differences between hybrid tea, floribunda and grandiflora roses.

I had an interesting conversation with a customer a few weeks ago. She was raving about our hybrid tea roses. She told me she was amazed at the variety of roses that she could make tea from. I presumed she was talking about using the rose hips to make tea, but she clarified for me what she meant.

In China, they make tea out of rose petals, and she assumed that “hybrid tea” meant that these particular roses were grown for making special teas. It got me thinking about the name — and the fact that in my many years of gardening, I had never given any thought as to where that name came from.

So off to the internet I went.

It turns out that tea roses originated in China several centuries back. The name is derived from the fact that the fragrance of the flowers reminded people of the smell of brewing tea. The original tea roses were larger shrubs with big flowers that had weak necks, so the flowers were always nodding down.

Here’s more on the difference between hybrid tea, floribunda and grandiflora roses:

Hybrid teas: In 1867, Guillot of France introduced what would be the first hybrid tea rose. Named “La France,” it had a strong fragrance and a large, full bloom. It was the first hybrid tea in existence. When most gardeners think of roses, they are thinking of hybrid teas with their long stems that make for good cut flowers. They usually grow to 4 to 5 feet tall and like all roses, prefer full sun.

Floribundas: Jackson and Perkins was the first company to use the term “floribunda” in the early part of the 20th century. It is a cross between a polyantha and a tea rose. Generally, floribundas are smaller shrubs reaching only 3 to 4 feet tall and have an abundance of flowers. They can be single or double blooms and come in a wide range of colors. “Playboy” is one of my favorites, as well as “Sun Sprite” — the first yellow one to bloom in my old rose garden. I tend to prefer the simplicity of the single forms, which are also easier for the pollinators to access.

Grandifloras: The grandiflora rose is a hardy cross between a floribunda and a hybrid tea. They have large blooms that are clustered on long stems, making them good for cut flowers. The “Queen Elizabeth” was the first grandiflora rose to be developed — a sturdy, tall grower reaching 6 to 7 feet tall with lots of pink blooms. Just think of “grand blooms” for grandiflora.

In addition to the above types, we also have climbing roses, landscape roses and ground cover roses, to name a few. Climbers obviously need to grow on a trellis or arbor. Landscape roses are more like hardy shrubs with rose-like flowers that will bloom all summer but often have little to no fragrance (except for a new one called “At Last”) and ground cover roses are essentially the same, only they are more compact and closer to the ground.

Back to the rose tea conversation: It turns out herbal teas (also known as “tisane”) made with rose petals are very refreshing. It’s as simple as pouring some boiling hot water over a carafe partially filled with rose petals and letting it steep for a few minutes. Adding some lemon verbena or mint seems to be a popular combination, too.

If you try it, make sure that your rose petals have not been treated with any pesticides.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at info@sunnysidenursery.net.

All about roses

Attend a free class on everything roses at 10 a.m. June 16 at Sunnyside Nursery, 3915 Sunnyside Blvd., Marysville. For more information or to sign up, visit www.sunnysidenursery.net.

Talk to us

More in Life

Jeff Daniels
Actor Jeff Daniels also knows his way around the blues guitar

The Edmonds Center for the Arts will present a streaming concert by Daniels on Jan. 15.

Freezer-to-table recipes — plus a little help from the kids — makes putting dinner on the table easy. (Jennifer Bardsley)
When families cook together, dinner is ready in a flash

Here’s how you, too, can assemble 14 freezer-to-table recipes in four hours for two weeks of easy meals.

Dr. Paul on making a habit of expressing your appreciation

It can be as easy as putting a sticky note out to remind yourself be on the lookout for a job well done.

Artists Amber and Alex Vincini sit by examples of their artwork outside their studio on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2020 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
CARES Act grant helps artists be creative — and pay the rent

The money allows Everett’s Schack Art Center to hire artists and art educators.

When harvesting an Asian pear, the best method is to taste. Asian pears will ripen on the tree. (Getty Images)
Fruit trees 101: A gardener’s CliffsNotes for growing them

If you have any interest in growing your own fruit, it’s prime time to pick up apples, plums, cherries and pears.

Scherenschnitte is a special type of German paper cutting art, and old and new examples are both seen at auctions. This modern example sold for just $40. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
G.B. French made this scherenschnitte in the 20th century

The Kovels were surprised French’s paper cutting art was at auction, when artwork from the 1800s is more popular.

"Diane" witch hazel produces dark copper-red flowers in winter, providing quite a show against its bare branches. (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane,’ Diane witch hazel

“Diane” witch hazel produces dark copper-red flowers in winter, providing quite a show against its bare branches.

Shylah Hallam-Noel left, a worker at Queen Anne Healthcare, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in Seattle, receives the second shot of the Pfizer vaccination for COVID-19, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, from a Walgreens Pharmacist, right. The facility had an outbreak of COVID-19 in May of 2020 that resulted in more than 100 positive cases among staff and residents, including Allen, and the deaths of 20 residents and two staff members. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
The tricky road to herd immunity, explained

Three researchers who study the spread of infectious disease offer a reality check on how far we’ve come — and how far we have to go.

Photo by Wes Anthony/Firehouse Creative
Lead actress Shannyn Sossamon talks with filmmakers Andrew Morehouse,center, and Nate
Bell while filming “The Hour After Westerly” at the Fort Casey Inn.
Watch film featuring Whidbey Island for free through Jan. 16

The “Twilight Zone”-esque “The Hour After Westerly” is based on a short story by Robert M. Coates.

Most Read