Rosebuds Arrive: How to Shape Future Blooms

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We have come through another non-spring this year and the rosebuds are finally coming out. The days of gentle warming in March, a mixture of showers and sun in April, and blue skies, a few puffy clouds, and temps in the mid-70’s in May seem to have passed us by again. Our spring was cold and wet and the ground has had trouble warming up. Just two weeks ago, we were still burning the fireplace because the air was in the mid-40’s! The roses have been growing and reaching for the dim light. All of a sudden, in a few days, big changes took place and the sun came out! My roses responded well; they had been waiting for some heat to stretch out, and they finally got it. The only trouble is that 80-90 degrees will burn some of the succulent, shade grown foliage. Not much we can do about that.


Many Rosebuds!

Now that things have warmed up, I walk my gardens twice a day. It is amazing to see how much growing the roses do, now that the nighttime temps are above 50. The roses are excited and putting up lots of buds as their canes stretch out. Hybrid tea roses have a large terminal bud and typically have four or five smaller side buds that form at nodes near the top of the stem. Mini roses and minifloras bud out the same way. Floribunda roses bloom in clusters with a large terminal bud in the center.


Disbudding Your Roses 

Do your roses really need all those buds? You can keep them all, if you like, but I prefer to do some disbudding in my rose garden. If you look at the picture up top, you will see my ‘Black Cherry’ floribunda rose. You will notice that there is a large center bud and smaller buds around it. If I leave that center rosebud, it will bloom first and the petals will fall before the side buds begin to bloom. This will leave a big hole in the spray that will come next. If I gently snap off the terminal bud, all the smaller buds will fill in that gap as they grow and will form a beautiful spray. Floribundas disbudded in this manner will deliver a lovely bouquet on one stem. Hybrid teas, when disbudded, will deliver a larger bloom because the energy is not being sapped by the side buds. If you wish to disbud your HT’s, gently snap the side buds off with your finger. The little wounds will heal right up and become invisible.


Encouraging Sprays on Hybrid Teas

Sometimes, hybrid teas and grandiflora roses will put up longer sprouts where side buds usually form. When this happens, instead of snapping off those sprouts, I will take off the terminal bud instead, much like disbudding floribundas. This will deliver a gorgeous long-stemmed spray on one cane that can be really impressive looking. This is the time to do all this disbudding, especially if you intend to show your roses at your rose society’s upcoming show. Our show schedule specifies that certain exhibits must be disbudded, so don’t be afraid to remove a few of those extra rosebuds! Your remaining blooms will be bigger and more impressive, whether on the rose bush or in a vase at your local rose show. 

Meet Marci Martin

Marci Martin fell in love with roses when she was a little girl, and the love affair goes on. She has been growing roses for…

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