DISBUDDING FOR BETTER FLOWERS AND FRUITS
How to Do This
Disbudding is a term used in gardening to describe the process of limiting the number of flower or growth buds on plants. The purpose may be to divert food material from a number of flower buds to one or more special buds in order to encourage the development of a limited number of exceptionally fine blooms; or it may be to reduce the number of growth buds when there are too many. The removal of flower buds from weak plants may be carried out in order that the enervating effect of flower production may be reduced to a minimum. Disbudding is practiced on young trees to prevent the development of superfluous branches which might tend to weaken the leading shoot; or buds may be removed when they are likely to develop into rival leaders or leading shoots.
It is, however, in flower cultivation that disbudding and bud selection are practiced chiefly. It is necessary that buds should be removed as early as possible if the desired result is to be attained. In disbudding Dahlias the number of shoots usually has to be limited to prevent over‑crowding. This form of disbudding or thinning out of potential branches is sometimes called disbranching.
In addition, to secure the best blooms from large-flowered varieties, it is necessary to restrict the number of flowers that each stem carries.
This is effected by removing all flower buds but the central, terminal one from each stem while they are yet small. The tiny buds are rubbed out with the finger or fingernail as soon as they can be removed without danger of damaging the central bud that is to be retained. When disbudding, it is better not to take off all the surplus buds at once, but to spread the operation over a period of a week or two or more.
Large-flowered Chrysanthemums, Hybrid Tea Roses, Carnations and many other highly developed garden flowers are disbudded in similar fashion to secure the highest-quality blooms.
Bud dropping in Camellias can sometimes be arrested by disbudding, particularly when an abnormal number of buds is present. In Lilac cultivation the removal of weak young shoots often adds vigor to the main branches. Everyone must use his own judgment as to the necessity for disbudding and the form disbudding shall take, whether it be the removal of leaf buds, weak shoots or flower buds.
Disbudding Fruit Trees. Disbudding is a distinct and important form of pruning, applied to all trained fruit trees. It means the regulating and spacing out of new shoots, to concentrate supplies of food in the best-placed, fruitful growths and to avoid wasting the energies of the tree upon the production of many unnecessary shoots which might compete with fruitful wood and would, in any case, have to be cut away at normal pruning time. Most trained trees produce many more young shoots in spring than can be found room for on the trellis, and the earlier the surplus shoots are removed, the greater the benefit derived by the remainder. The direct result of disbudding is to prevent overcrowding, to conserve the energies of the tree and to improve the quality and quantity of fruit.
When to Disbud. The time to carry out disbudding of fruit trees is in spring and early summer before the young shoots have appreciably lengthened. It is an operation which should be spread over two or three weeks, a few unwanted shoots being removed every few days. Care must be taken not to tear off strips of bark; it is safest to pinch them off with finger and thumb, rather than to tear them with a pulling, jerking action.