Hybrid Teas and Floribundas
Hybrid Teas and Floribundas
The difference between these two, broadly, is that the hybrid teas are more or less pointed. Blooms growing singly on a stem; the floribundas, borne in clusters, are somewhat flatter in shape and tend to flower more continously. In general, hybrid teas are better-perfumed and floribundas stand up better to. In terms of rose history they are both very modern, for the hybrid teas were unknown until about a century ago and ‘floribunda’, as a name, was not coined until after the last world war. Both are the result of prolific cross breeding. The hybrid teas came about by, it is said, a chance crossing of a hybrid perpetual with a tea rose (so called because the fragrance of this type resembled that of a newly-opened tea chest). Half a century later a hybrid tea in turn was crossed with a polyantha pompon rose, and the resultant seedling was classified as a hybrid polyantha.
The new type began to gain popularity in the 1930s and after the war further breeding and second-generation crosses involved more use of the hybrid teas. As the polyantha characteristics largely disappeared the name hybrid polyantha was felt to be anachronistic and the breed was called floribunda instead.
The story of the evolution of the modern rose is not finished yet and is taking a somewhat bizarre turn. For, responding to the impatient public’s clamour for something new every year, breeders have tried more and more crosses, with the result that floribundas and hybrid teas are becoming so merged in their characteristics that we are now getting hybrid tea-shaped blooms growing in clusters. Even experts are admitting to difficulty in deciding whether some of the newcomers are hybrid teas or floribundas (some have been classed as both) and clearly another name is almost due.
There are so many varieties of rose, and so many ways of using them, that to recount them would be boringly repetitive, so I have included tables listing some of the main requirements a gardener may have and some of the best varieties for meeting them. The lists are a selection, far from complete, and may even draw criticism. But there are few sharply defined areas of demarcation in the world of the rose. Personal judgment, and growing conditions, must be the final arbiter.
Even the rose growers’ catalogues, lavish and informative as most of them are, can mention only a small proportion of the numbers that exist. They give a very fair representation of the colour, shape and characteristics of the varieties portrayed, but the best catalogue I know is a living one: the grounds of the Royal National Rose Society at St Albans, Hertfordshire, England. Here can be seen many many varieties, giving a practical demonstration of what they are and what they can do. You can see new ones on trial and not yet available for purchase (some of them not even named), a parade of top award winners of past years, and beds, borders, walls, and pillars covered with blooms in the situations for which they are best suited. If you cannot find here the variety you want, I have no doubt that the enthusiastic members of staff will do their utmost to trace a source of supply of the one you feel you must have.
I feel that two hybrid teas deserve a special mention, however, because of the great part they played in the post-war history of the rose. One is ‘Peace’; the other ‘Super Star’. But although so closely connected, they could scarcely be more dissimilar.
‘Peace’ owes its position as the outstanding rose of our time not so much to its perfection as a rose as to the inspiration that gave it its name — it began life in France as ‘Mme. A. Meilland’ and was renamed in America to mark the end of the Second World War. ‘Super Star’, from Germany, and almost twenty years younger, is the fiery fluorescent red that made such a striking colour breakthrough: it is called ‘Tropicana’ in America.
The irony is that ‘Peace’ was one of the ‘grandparents’ — Tantau, the raiser, apparently was not sure about some of the others. No matter: ‘Super Star’ has established its own pedigree. The newer versions seem to be mellowing and losing some of the early fire (one leading grower is actually describing it as orange!) and there are reports that it is also more susceptible as a breed tothan it was. But whatever its fate it deserves, and will hold, a prominent place in the recent history of the rose.
‘Peace’ is claimed to be the most popular rose that has ever been produced. This probably means that more trees of it have been sold than any other variety. One estimated total marking the silver jubilee of its introduction was 100 million. Undoubtedly it was given a tremendous boost because of the name bestowed on it by a marketing genius at a time of great national and international emotion. It is a yellow, tinged with pink. Some experts downpoint it because of failure to hold its shape: it ‘blows’ quickly and tends to look rather untidy. But on one point it does earn top marks. It is one of the two healthiest roses at present known to man. (Pink Favourite’, also a hybrid tea, is the other.)
Apart from all their attributes as garden flowers, roses lend themselves enthusiastically to experiments in hybridization. Crossing roses is, assuming you have the patience and the equipment (summed up as a camel-hair brush and a score or so of different varieties), one of the easiest and most satisfying ways of playing with Nature.
The emasculating and pollinating process is such that in a breeding house or shed one solitary plant can be showing a dozen or more blooms, all different in colour and shape, and all from the crosses that their owner has made. Anyone can do it, and thousands of new blooms are produced every year, many of them by amateurs. Very few are better than those already in existence, but there is always the chance of a freak or sport. The hope of producing another ‘Peace’ or another ‘Super
Star’, though remote, will always be prominent in a breeder’s mind.
The bewildering extent of the range explains simultaneously why the rose has so many adherents and why it must be placed in a special category away from those ‘lesser breeds’ of shrub. (In passing, professional rose growers invariably refer to their roses as ‘trees’, so you must draw your own conclusions!)