Tea Roses

When I first put in the tea roses the neighbors all wandered by and said ‘you can’t grow roses here except for knock outs’. They told me the mealy bugs would attack them and I’d have to keep them in pots and bring them in in the winter.

The roses have thrived so far. Time will tell if the neighbors really are correct.

Winter in Houston is fine for roses, some colder years they drop their leaves, in warmer years they bloom right through the year.

I prune them in February. I’ve had a little black spot, a few aphids and mealy bugs but nothing serious. Soapy water has taken care of the aphids and removing the mealy bug and spraying with orange oil has kept that in check.

I’ve lost some tea roses to leaf scorch – dry windy weather dries out the leaves faster than the rose can supply water to them. The leaves then wilt and over the course of a couple of weeks the entire plant wilts and dies. Leaf scorch bacteria can also kill roses, it is spread by leaf hopper insects. So protect from wind and water frequently in dry spells.

Roses love full sun and water. Given full sun they will fight off most attacks of insects, fungus and mold. They will not do well in shade or even part shade down here. I’ve been told, but have not confirmed that milk mixed with water sprayed on roses cures blackspot. Get the lowest fat milk you can find and use 1 part milk to 8 parts water.

Roses love acid, the more rain and less watering from the hose the better. If it is a dry year add some vinegar ( 1 Tablespoon per gallon ) or acidic plant food to the soil around them.

Rose petals can be eaten and are used in jellies, honeys and vinegars. To make rose sugar: mince rose petals, cover with two parts sugar and leave in the fridge for a month, strain petal parts from sugar before serving. Rose hips can be made into a tea.

I’m growing ‘Tropicana’, ‘JFK’, ‘Peace’, one yellow, one pink, and one red Jackson and Perkins that I don’t have positive ids on. ‘Mrs Dudley Cross’ and ‘Mrs BR Kant’ are both highly recommended teas for the gulf coast area.

And just because you thought roses were a fairly boring plant, let me warn you about sporotrichosis. It is a fungus that can be found on roses, sphagnum moss, and other tropical plants. If you have a cut and get some of this fungus in the cut small painless bumps appear. If this happens, see your doctor as it can spread and become a serious lung disease. Sporotrichosis is also known as the rose gardeners disease.

Roses are extremely easy to propagate. Snip off the last 6″ of a stem. Remove the leaves on the bottom of the stem. Place the stem in soil in the late fall. Cover with a large glass ( a mayonnaise jar works well ). Remove the jar in the spring when new growth appears.

Black spot is a problem on roses especially in our humid climate. Yellow roses are especially prone to black spot. Black spot ( Diplocarpon rosae) first appeared in the US in 1830.

The ones still with me are doing just fine during the 3 months of drought and 100’F days of summer 2011

More information:
Controlling Mildew with Milk/Water
Rose Propagation by Dr. William C. Welch

11 thoughts on “Tea Roses

  1. Well, if it helps any, my mother had tea roses down here near Friendswood/Pearland for decades. She did virtually nothing to them, they had some black spot, usually more often than not, but never were treated or fertilized. The soil they were in was usually mulched with oak leaves and pine needles – my dad figured tannic acid in oak leaves and the pine were acid enough.

    They were pruned, but that’s all, and thrived quite well. They were covered with a sheet during the hard freezes. It was in the late 90s that they finally gave it up, I believe it was just neglect since my mom had died and my dad lost interest in the roses after that. But I wouldn’t be surprised if yours do much better with the care you give them. I hope they do well!


  2. Thank you.

    So far they seem very happy and I’ve had to do very little to them. It is even warmer and damper down where your mom grew her roses. If they thrived down there they should do just fine up here.

  3. These roses are all older varieties so the weaknesses have probably been bred out by now.

    I’m finding the flowers are larger this time of year, but slightly distorted from the cold on the buds.

    I have Tropicana, JFK, Peace and I forget the yellow one, I’ll have to look at the tag.

    Which ones are doing well for you?

  4. Your neighbors are wrong. I have beautiful tea roses and antique roses as well. They love the sandy soil, lots of water and horse manure! I think your neighbors are just jealous!

  5. Thank you, you’re sweet!

    None of my neighbors really garden so they think I’m a bit odd, for ripping out most of the lawn and existing shrubs and re-doing everything anyway.

    It’s getting there, they will be jealous in a few years.

    It’s all clay here, not a grain of sand in sight.

  6. Because you’re a plant person, you probably know about EarthKind roses, but just in case (or for anyone not familiar), check this out:


    I have had Belinda’s Dream and Climbing Pinkie. Got them at Robertson’s in Pasadena. LOVED them. They needed no work, after having prepped the bed for them.

    Having to leave them behind was the worst part about selling my last house.

    BTW – been enjoying your hard work here! Thanks!

  7. Thank you.

    Yes, I have a note to cover EarthKind roses some time this summer on the blog.

    I have a special soft spot for Belinda’s dream, which was developed by a mathematician.

    Everything I’ve heard so far about Earth Kind roses is wonderful.

  8. Aw – I didn’t know that about Belinda’s Dream. Math was my fave subject throughout school, and may be my pursuit in my ‘next life’ when kids are bigger. :)

    Funny how some unrelated side-note can affect our feelings about a plant…I almost chose not to plant Belinda’s Dream, because of bad feelings for someone named Belinda! Good thing I wasn’t so silly, and planted it anyway. Big pink roses really appeal to me. (Maybe I should give the human Belinda a second chance too. )

  9. It’s nice to meet another lover of math!

    It is scary how things like the names effect us, that’s how the marketing people get to us.

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