Tea rose hardiness, etc.

sara_ann-z6bokMarch 24, 2014

For future reference I am seriously considering planting a few tea roses. I have a huge back yard that is pretty much a blank slate and I would like to plant bourbons, climbers, hybrid musks and possibly a few tea roses. I am in zone 6b, which is on the edge of the hardiness zone for teas. I grow gobs of hybrid teas, which for the most part are hardy for me. Are most tea roses as hardy as hybrid teas? Some that have caught my eye are Lady Hillingdon, Monseur Tiller, Sombreuil, Maman Cochet, Safrano, Mrs. B.R. Cant and others. As I stated above this is a plan for the future, so hopefully I'll have plenty of time to plan for the right roses. Any opinions and suggestions would be appreciated.

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I asked similar questions a few years ago on the forum. Currently, I have Lady Hillingdon (first winter) and Duchesse De Brabant (second winter). Both seem to have die down to the ground, although I can see green near the roots/where I piled up mulch around the plants. Since they are own roots, I am hoping that they would bounce back. The feedback that I got from this forum is that LH should be quite winter hardy as far as Teas go, although growing in Zone 6 would be zoning pushing. I think some of the posters here in colder climate grow it. DDB suffered limited dieback last winter (much less than my Rio Samba, a Hybrid Tea, which grow next to DDB), but this winter has taken a much heavier toll. Mind you that I in Zone 6a.

Thinking back: I probably should have grown them closer to my house, where it would be significant warmer, not to mention the added benefit of year-round reflected light.

If you have shelter spot near your house, your odds of success might improve. But this is just a hunch, rather an educated guess.

I have a few other teas growing in pots, and will move my Mrs. B.R. Cant from its pot to a spot right in front my basement window. It did very well this winter in my unheated garage (little die back), and my intuition is that it probably would do as well (or badly) as DBB outdoors in my zone.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 10:03PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Sara-Ann, I live in Tulsa, and it is 7A. I grow teas, chinas, bourbons, and shrubs. Everything is own root, and I do not touch them with spray.

This year I have lost possibly a couple of roses out of over 100. I do not cover the roses, and do not fertilize like I should.

Mrs. B.R. Cant is too sensitive for my garden. I have tried her repeatedly, and she does not like it here.

I have about 12 SDLM, Perle d'Or , Cramoisi Superieur, G Nabonnand, THomas Affleck , Archduke Charles, Ducher, Bubble Bath, Le Vesuve, Maggie, Marie Van Houtte, William Smith, Georgetown tea, some Bucks, Caldwell Pink, Duchesse de Brabant, Monsieur Tillier, Madame Antoine Mari, Erfurt, Rival de Paestum, and many others.

I need to get ready for work in a minute, but you should not hold back because of hardiness.

I don't know why, but many yellow roses do not like it here.

Teas love it, but all of mine are own root.

This year I have cut them down to about one or two feet. They will come back. You might want to re-check your zone information. I think it was changed about 10 years ago, but even before the change, I grew these roses safely. I have pared down from 270 to more than 100. But they are great.

I like the chinas and teas. If a rose is known to be sensitive, I do not try it.

Bubble Bath is fun to grow, and it grows fast.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 6:18AM
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Thank you Farmerduck and Sammy. Sammy, I think you are right about me being in Zone 7a. The way I used to see the hardiness zone map, I was so close to the edge I've just considered my zone as 6b. From what you said I think it would certainly be worth trying some of the teas. Sad to learn that Mrs. B.R. Cant is too sensitive for your garden, she's so lovely. It sounds like you have many other lovely ones that more than make up for It though. Being on this forum has really opened my eyes to all the beautiful old garden roses, which I knew almost nothing about. Many of them are so lovely and I can only imagine the wonderful fragrances.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 8:43AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I'm not sure if I'm in 7A or B. And I think my backyard is in a warmer zone than my front yard because it's lower. Anyway, I had damage to my teas this year, the first time. two have lost all their canes, but are own root, so I'm hoping that they put out new ones.

I think you can do it, but I would put a lot of winter protection around the base, even for own roots, so that even if you get a brutal winter like this one, the roses will come back.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 10:16AM
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Sarah-Ann -for my zone (6a, bordering 6b), it is not just a matter of keeping a Tea alive, but also whether one would be happy with a plant that would probably never achieve the size and potential it can in a warmer climate. My guess is that that is why the default zone seems to be zone 7 for Teas.

For me, smaller plants are just fine as I have very limited real estate. Your Teas ought to do much better.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 11:13AM
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Sara Ann,
My teas were just babies going into this terrible winter. Madame Lombard and Marie van Houtte seem to have come through best with a lot of green cane left (Duchesse de Brabant was by far the worst with no living canes leftâ¦hoping she will come back from her roots). HMF shows Madame LombardâÂÂs hardiness zone as 6b, so maybe that would be one to try. I love her so farâ¦every bloom is different. Sometimes itâÂÂs hard to tell her blooms from my Mrs BR Cant, but sometimes they are so very different. She grew like a weed and bloomed very well for me last year. Her fragrance isnâÂÂt quite as strong as MBRC, but very nice, nonetheless. Here are a few shots showing just how different she can lookâ¦hard to believe these are all blooms from the same bush:

Some of the many faces of my baby Madame Lombard last yearâ¦

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 11:47AM
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Thank you so much for the encouraging words everyone. Farmerduck, I was also wondering about how big they would get. Buford, I'm sure winter protection would be the smart thing to do. Pat, Madame Lombard is lovely, and you're right, it doesn't look like the same rose in the different pictures. Thanks for suggesting it. I appreciate all of you so much.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 2:44PM
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seil zone 6b MI

I'm equally happy to hear all this encouragement since I have a Tea, Dushesse de Brabant, and two Chinas, Mutabilis and Archduke Charles, buried in my winter pot ghetto at this very moment. I'm sure hoping they made it through this polar vortex winter!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 11:54PM
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I don't have the colder climate experience of the admirable gardeners who've posted here, but offer a couple of thoughts. Henry Mitchell cited a gardener who grew Teas in New Jersey, who said that the Teas were hardier than was often thought, but that they needed protection from wind. I've also read that Teas got much of their reputation for tenderness from growers in places like England and Germany, which lack the summer heat needed to ripen the roses' wood. This isn't a problem in most of the U.S.
If I were growing Teas in Zone 6 or 7, I would take a close look at the microclimates in my yard, possibly planting close to a wall (and with southern or western exposure) as has been said; and protecting younger plants in particular, perhaps with a loose mulch of evergreen branches, though gardeners from colder climates will know a lot more about this than I do.
My own trouble with the warm climate roses has been root rot from very heavy soil combined with very wet winters: we've had two of them in a row. It was a happy sight to see one Tea that had died back to the ground coming back from its roots.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 3:59AM
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Seil - I certainly hope your tea rose and chinas make it. Melissa that is interesting, thanks for your input. I think it is worth trying the teas and taking the extra precautions.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 7:19AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

In the 1840's, Buist wrote about what he went through to grow Teas in Philadelphia. He basically constructed a sand pit to grow them in. Having lived through my share of Philadelphia winters, I understand this tactic. How else to deal with a climate whose favorite winter weather is 30 degrees and raining. My guess is that someone growing them successfully in New Jersey is gardening on a natural sand pit.

This is going to be a lot less necessary in an area with less winter precipitation.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 7:52AM
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Actually, that IS our winter weather. And yes, it is necessary to create adequate drainage!! Roses that want to grow twelve months a year are considerably more susceptible to root rot than deciduous kinds that are dormant during the rainy season.
Why a pit, though? for protection from wind? did Buist achieve some kind of heat sink effect (though cold descends and heat rises)?
P.S. Sara-Ann, I should have said this before, but I think yours is a good project, and I wish you luck with it! You'll post about your experiences, of course.

This post was edited by melissa_thefarm on Thu, Mar 27, 14 at 12:32

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 12:15PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Essentially he was digging a dry well under the rose. If he was dealing with anything like what I dealt with in that area, it is fairly heavy, fairly compacted, acidic clay.

At one point in time, I had it reasonably well worked out in what area of the city various rose people were placed. Somebody, possibly Buist, was Mt. Airy.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 12:32PM
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lori_elf z6b MD

I no longer grow any teas or chinas; some lasted a few milder winters and were puny little bushes before dying. I think being no-spray hastened their decline and death because they were all terribly blackspot prone so when the canes died back there was not enough stored energy to re-grow the plants in the spring. I do not wish to coddle any rose with winter protection and there are so many wonderful hardy roses to choose from. But I know a few people who have kept them alive in zone 6b with fungicide spraying and protection so it is possible if you wish to go that route, good luck.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 4:40PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

Most of my teas have suffered major damage from this winter. We did get down to zero during one of the Polar Vortexes, I think that's what did it. So now you know what they will tolerate. I hope most of them come back from the roots. This was a very unusual year, so I'm not giving up on teas.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 10:04PM
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I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. I have vivid memories of my Dad in the garden just before Thanksgiving putting 2 roses and 2 fig trees to bed. He dug a trench, heeled the roots, and then layed the rose, or fig tree down on the ground.
All the dried leaves from oak trees covered the bush and then roofing paper was lovingly used to cover the roses and figs. Rocks from the beach were used to keep the tar paper in place.
Here in the PNW I don't have to go to those extremes. Thank goodness.
The 2 rose bushes were from cuttings he took in Southern Italy during WW11. Now that would be a no-no. He mailed them home and Mom cared for them till he got home. I often wondered what they were but my memory is not clear enough to trace them.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 8:35AM
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nippstress - zone 5 Nebraska

For what it's worth, I am in zone 5 Nebraska and I've grown 5 teas for about 5-6 years each. The hardiest have been Maman Cochet, Georgetown Tea, and Madame Antoine Mari. Even this year, after the bitter bitter cold and no snow, at least MAM and Georgetown Tea look to have made it through the winter. Less hardy have been Mrs. BR Cant and Duchesse de Brabant, and we'll see if they come back.

The big "However" in this picture, though, is that I faithfully winter protect the teas even when I have slacked off on winter protection everywhere else. It's interesting what Melissa says about wind protection, since the method that has worked best for me is to put full-sized filled leaf bags all around the perimeter of each rose to make a cold/wind buffer. I just pulled off those bags this weekend, and the teas seem to have made it as well as any other rose in my yard, but that's not saying much. Virtually everything but the hardy climbers and some Austins and Explorers has needed to be cut to the ground, which I know isn't something teas like very much.

I also realize that my teas won't look as nice in my yard as they do in zones where they belong, but that's only 5 out of 700 roses for the experiment. Still, they have looked pretty full and nice at least last year, when I posted some pictures, so it can be done in colder zones. Just plan to do some fussing and experiments with roses that don't like your particular conditions. As everyone has mentioned, good drainage is important.

Given that it sounds like you're really zone 7a you don't have the kind of limitations I do, but my method is a fairly easy non-invasive protection strategy if you felt you needed it in the first year or so.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 4:23PM
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poorbutroserich(Nashville 7a)

For me here in 7a microclimate has been the key. Those near the house and sheltered did just fine while those more "in the open" suffered. I have one Safrano that didn't lose ANY wood while another lost 2/3rds.
I think the "full leaf bag" method would work great here and I will be trying it next year with my more exposed roses.
Also mine are very very young.
It's always better to try and fail than not to try at all (especially with roses).
Maybe grow those that do well in pots and bring them into the garage for the winter?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 6:21PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Wow!!!!!! 700.
Your method is one of the best. At one of our rose society meetings a speaker said she surrounded her smaller teas with stakes and roofing material - the black stuff that goes under the tiles. They said they use it from year to year, and it is easy. They drive stakes into the ground, then make a circle of the roofing material.

On the inside they put bags of leaves. They would go out in the middle of night when people had obviously set their trash out, and it was full of leaves. They would grab the bags (like thieves), and use them to surround the beds. They would get the rain or snow, but not the wind.

I don't know if this would help you, but I thought I would share it. She was so funny when she spoke, and we all laughed and laughed.

I think she probably asked her neighbors for the bags, but hers was an interesting story.

Good luck. Nebraska is very cold - just like Indiana where I grew up.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 6:24PM
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Thank you so much everyone. Cynthia, thanks for telling your experiences with teas. I really appreciate everyone's input.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 7:22AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

Just be glad you didn't try this this year! You escaped the worst winter in years.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 12:49PM
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nippstress - zone 5 Nebraska

Thanks for the extra fun story Sammy - staking roofing material around the roses has my admiration since it sounds like way too much work. Mine is one I consider the lazy method, since it involves plonking bags around the roses when I feel like it in early winter and spreading the leaves around for extra mulch in spring, again when I feel like it. No wasted energy, since I have to mulch anyway in this dry climate, and it seems to be as effective as anything.

Glad it's helpful Sara-Ann! Roses are tougher than we think, as long as we don't have too many unrealistic expectations for them. My teas took a good 4-5 years to look like much of anything, and I don't expect much bloom this year. I'll be happy with survival, as Buford says.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 10:22PM
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