Disbudding

Rachel.EMay 10, 2013

Okay pros...give me the scoop on disbudding. When do I do it? Why do I do it? How do I do it?

As a reminder, I'm in Central Texas. My plants are all babies, in the ground less than a couple of months, but they are all quite large and very healthy. They came own-root from ARE for the most part.

My Graham Thomas decided to become a bud machine this week. There are at least 4 or 5 canes with 4 or 5 buds at the ends of each one. Previously, I've only gotten a single bloom at a time, but he is going crazy or something. Do I pinch off a couple of them and only leave the biggest? Or let them all bloom?

I also have a tiny little Duchesse de Brabant who is putting out tons of new growth. I bought it as a "dormant" rose at the grocery store, and it has only been planted about a month or so. It is trying to put out some tiny little buds. Do I let it bloom? Or disbud?

Hit me with your wisdom.

Rachel

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jerijen(Zone 10)

Disbudding will give a young or weak rose a boost. It can be difficult to make yourself do it.

Is your Graham Thomas also a new plant? Is it small and weak, or robust? Does it NEED extra help?

Jeri

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 9:13PM
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Rachel.E

Graham Thomas was planted at the end of February, but it was a healthy 2 gallon size when I got it. It seems very healthy, and has tripled in size since I planted it.

It has bloomed already twice, but just one or two blooms at a time. Right now it has probably 20 buds on it! I didn't realize it would bloom in clusters...

I think I will disbud the Duchesse de Brabant, since she's still so small. She is putting on lots of new growth, but probably needs to put on some size before I let her go...

Jeri, I appreciate your input so much!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 9:22PM
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ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

Since I plant all my bands in the ground after a week or two in the pot to get acclimated, I always disbud them, except that I leave one bud on to bloom if I haven't seen this particular rose before. If I have a larger plant that I want to encourage to grow even bigger, such as Mrs. B. R. Cant or Cl. Lady Hillingdon, I will disbud that too. With the larger plants I'm not 100% sure that it makes a lot of difference, but I do believe it definitely helps with the small ones. They need all the help they can get, and it takes a lot of energy for a tiny plant to put out even one full bloom.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 1:07PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Another reason I want to see one bloom is, sometimes, to make sure I have what I think I have. :-)

Jeri

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 2:08PM
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roseseek

Hopefully, Lyn G will see this and add her experiences. She has begun regularly dis budding her garden of its first flush to knock down the infestation of curculio beetles.

Yes, dis budding pretty much ANY rose will usually increase its growth, with a resulting increase in bloom. Why do you think exhibitors have dis budded all the years they have been? If you have multiple buds on a cane, removing all but one or two will result in the nutrients, the "energy" created to mature the multiples, being focused into the one or two. That, and heavy feeding, are how you generate the enormous blooms you see at rose shows.

Decreasing the fruit permitted to set on a plant also focuses the generated energy into the remaining pieces. Dis budding, removal of set fruit, plus varietal selection, are how they produce pumpkins and water melons which require a fork lift to exhibit at fairs and other plant shows.

Everything in Nature exists for the same, basic reason...to perpetuate their species. With people, it gets more complicated, but when considering plants, they grow, flower, set fruit with seeds, simply to keep their species alive. Their flowering is ovulation. Their fruit set (hips) is pregnancy. We encourage them to ovulate by all we attempt to do to and for them, and we discourage their pregnancy to encourage them to ovulate more frequently, heavily and for a longer period.

The plants are "genetically programmed" to achieve a certain size before ovulating. Some will attempt it at very small sizes. Others require a greater plant mass before they can accomplish it. By eliminating their ovulation, picking off the flower buds (as soon as they begin forming for the most dramatic results), their genetic programming is deprived of the hormones and auxins expected from the formation and maturation of their flowers. That kick starts more growth, to push the canes and foliage necessary to ovulate again, in their effort to set fruit, seed, to perpetuate their species.

Removing the flower buds at any stage prior to maturity will stimulate the plant to push forming new ones. The earlier they are removed, the fewer the resources used to generate them. The more of those resources you prevent to be used to form and mature the buds, the greater the resources remaining for the plant to utilize to push more growth. Removing all of them results in those resources being used to push plant growth. Removing some of them results in larger, but fewer flowers or pieces of fruit.

The vigor of the type and individual variety determines how much they may benefit from dis budding. Any plant slow or reluctant to grow, but seemingly happy to flower, will benefit more dramatically from dis budding. For genuinely difficult to maintain types (Dove, Grey Pearl, Fantan and others which just will not generate decent plants on their own), dis budding is the most certain method of getting a plant to a decent, mature specimen. The more vigorous the rose is to mature, the less dramatic the results of dis budding, but it can, and usually will, result in it more quickly achieving the size it is genetically programmed to, and the available resources permit.

Some have what I call "the death gene". Grey Pearl and Fantan are the two most perfect examples I have dealt with. These two will literally flower themselves to death. It is common for them to push a basal shoot, break in to multiple flowers, expending more energy than the plants can afford to use, then die to the root. No exaggeration. Preventing them from flowering is the only way to first, keep the blamed things alive, and second, push them to generate the closest thing possible to "decent plants". They seem to mimic what is often seen with old fruit trees, most notably in my area and experience, apricots. When the tree approaches the end of its life, it flowers much more heavily and sets massive fruit quantities, then quickly declines to death.

With roses, presuming the weather and any other stresses don't get them first, most will eventually become the size and quality of plant you desire. By providing the best conditions and resources possible and preventing them from flowering until they mature sufficiently to deal with heat, cold, water stress, diseases, etc., you can easily push most to become what you desire, and what can enable them to more efficiently fend for themselves significantly faster. Kim

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 2:43PM
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mzstitch(Zone 7b South Carolina)

Great post Kim, you just convinced me to debud my Lady Emma Hamilton. I planted her in the ground when she was too small last year, and barely grew all year, but did give me blooms. She has three buds now, and It will be hard, but perhaps I should do whats best for her and clip the buds off.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 8:55PM
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roseseek

Thanks, I'm glad it helped. She may well become the plant you desire, but you've already seen how glacially slow she CAN be. She'd be the perfect candidate for dis budding. It isn't quite as difficult doing it when you consider these three, small buds compared to the MANY more, large buds a healthy, vigorous, mature plant can deliver. Not "deprivation", more of "delayed gratification". Kim

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 9:12PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

Kim.........

I can't add a thing to your post. As usual, you manage to explain the "why" of what is happening to a rose when we do something different in how we our care for our roses.

Even tho' I do remember your telling me about dis budding a rose to help a plant when it is stressed so that it has have time to put it's energy into growing roots and plant, I really was awed to see how the roses really pushed out more buds the first year I dis budded my garden to keep the curculios from breeding in the garden.

Yes, I knew the roses would push more blooms if I dis budded them, but observing the impact on a whole garden is different than reading about it. Every year, I look forward to the the flush after curculio season because it is even denser than the first flush ... which is undamaged because the bugs no longer breed in my garden.

I have used this technique for roses that have been stressed for any reason and found that I always end up with a healthier and more productive plant.

Thank you so much for taking the time to explain why this technique works.

Smiles,

Lyn

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 12:02AM
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sidos_house

Thank you for this extremely informative thread. I have some tiny bands that keep trying to bloom their hearts out. Gloire de Guilan, for instance, she is six inches tall and four inches wide and I caught her with eight buds :)

They start early these days. Sigh.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 11:24AM
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Rachel.E

Wow. Just wow. This is exactly why this forum is so amazing....such a "rookie" question answered with grace and a wealth of knowledge.

Kim, you are absolutely a treasure. And I feel so blessed to have this place as a resource.

Lyn, thank you for your firsthand experience with this technique. It really gives perspective on these little things we do with the hope that we are helping our little garden babies.

Sidos-House: I giggled reading your comment...and I felt the same thing when I went and disbudded my little Duchesse de Brabant yesterday!

Rachel

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 12:00PM
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roseseek

Thank you Rachel. How gracious of you! I'm glad it's helping. It's one of those simple, easy "fixes" anyone can do, anywhere and anytime, and it can make such tremendous improvements. I got smart this time. I'd never used the "clippings" before, but I have now so the next time the issue comes up, it's all there without having to search the threads! Thanks. Kim

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 12:08PM
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EllaroseFarm(10a)

Hello! This is my first entry to a forum. I've been obsessively reading all the forums while trying to make the best buying decisions and just realized I should join and partake in the discussions. My question is... After the first session of disbudding, I would imagine in the first year there would be several flushes. Do you disbud every flush, or just the first showing? I'm putting 213 bushes in the ground next week and want to make sure I do everything right to get the most growth and blooms out them down the road. It will be really hard to disbud all year, but I will do it if needed. Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 12:36PM
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jacqueline9CA

Ellarose - welcome!

Reading the above experts, there appear to be three main reasons for disbudding:

1) The rose bush is immature (I have had the silly things produce buds when they are still cuttings in a plastic bag!), and you are trying to encourage it to grow roots first, and not waste all of its energy on blooms.

2) For some reason, the rose is older, but blooming a lot and not growing much at all - these would be rare circumstances of very difficult roses - they would theoretically also do better spending less energy on blooms.

3) RARE - Lynn disbuds her entire garden in the Spring because of an infestation of rose curculio beetles, which are horrid tiny beetles (they look like lady bugs, except they have long pointy "noses" which they use to poke holes in rose buds to lay their eggs - the buds die). This is an extreme solution to a very specific problem.

Almost all of the disbudding I have ever done was on very immature tiny roses, to encourage them to grow more roots and bush. In this event, you only take off the first few buds the baby rose is making, and then you let it grow and get bigger, and leave the future flushes of buds alone. (example 1 above - example 2 and 3 above are just for certain rare specific circumstances).

213 roses is a lot! What kind of roses are they? How big are they when they will be going into the ground? Where do you live, geographically?

Jackie

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 1:45PM
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EllaroseFarm(10a)

Thank you so much Jackie! I really appreciate all the info. I'm growing these roses for my floral design business and to help out other designers in the area. I'm in Fallbrook, CA, so the temps get a bit high in the early fall, but rarely does it get above 90. I'm just east of Oceanside and northeast of Carlsbad. This area is known mainly for growing citrus and lots (lots) of avocado's. I'm growing Hybrid Teas, some Floribunda's, English Legend, and David Austin. All bought through Heirloom Roses. They are small own roots and should be going in the ground next week. I've been waiting on a tractor this entire weekend. Grr. I can post the varieties I bought if you're interested, but it's a long list with 26 varieties. I bought extras of specific types I know do well and have a decent vase life. The others are beauties that I want to try growing just a few to see how they do.

Thanks again!
Nancy

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 2:51PM
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jacqueline9CA

That is interesting - they should do well where you are - will just need a lot of water. If they are own roots they may be very small, which is when I would disbud the first crop of buds.

Jackie

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 5:35PM
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ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

Hello, Ella, and welcome to the forum. I live not so very far from you, in Valley Center. I thought I would just mention that I've found mulching is very necessary here so that the water doesn't all evaporate. A good layer of mulch will help the roots to stay cool and save water costs. You're planting a bit late in the season and that makes it all the more important to baby these roses since bands are rather fragile in the beginning. Good luck!

Ingrid

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 6:29PM
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EllaroseFarm(10a)

Hi Ingrid, thank you so much for the info on mulching. I have, what I think, is a pretty good planting plan in place, and have mulch high on the list. Along with chicken wire cages because of the gophers and ground squirrels, fertilizer, compost, etc. I had the soil tested and we will ammend for what is missing. When I bought from Heirloom they have the option of sending after the last frost which I guess happened just a couple of weeks ago. So yes, I'm definitely behind, but hopefully not too much. Thanks again, I appreciate the advice and well wishes!

Nancy

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 12:18AM
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roseseek

Nancy, our gophers here in California tend to run smaller than those elsewhere. Make sure you get the smallest diameter hole chicken wire possible, ideally the half inch opening. I've had them enter one inch and I'm sure the two inch would be no challenge at all for the average gopher. For plants I particularly value, I use half inch hardware cloth instead. More costly, much more irritating to work with but NOTHING has breached its security. Kim

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 12:29AM
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EllaroseFarm(10a)

Thank you so much Kim. After reading your comment, I spent a lot of time researching what to get that I can afford. I really appreciate you giving me the heads up. I was surprised when I saw the first gopher we caught, it really was SO small. I didn't realize it was a regional thing. Thanks again. Nancy

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 12:06AM
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