Disbudding is a type of pruning aimed at producing a single, large flower at the top of the cane or forming a more uniform spray. To produce a single, large flower at the top of a cane, you remove all flower buds below the top one. This forces the plant to devote all its energy to growing one flower that can bloom twice as large.
Disbudding is necessary for producing show-quality hybrid teas, grandifloras, and climbing hybrid teas, which must be exhibited with one flower per stem in order to qualify for the highest awards. Even if you never dream of exhibiting your roses, disbudding will help you achieve the largest flowers possible.
As soon as small secondary buds are visible around and below the central flower bud, remove them by rubbing them away with your fingers or the point of a small implement such as a toothpick. If you wait too long to disbud, and the flower bud is ¼ inch or more across, unsightly black scars will form and remain.
Some roses naturally produce only one bloom per stem, and do not need to be disbudded.
Roses that bloom in sprays, such as floribundas, grandifloras, climbers, and some miniatures, naturally grow in such a way that the central flower bud opens first. As it fades, the surrounding flower buds open. When the faded central flower is cut away, a large gap remains in the center of the spray. To prevent this, remove the central flower bud as soon as it appears. The remaining flowers will fill in the gap, coming into bloom simultaneously for a prettier effect, although flower size will not increase.
Although floribundas can be exhibited with one bloom per stem, they are usually shown as sprays, and the best floribunda in the show is almost always a spray. in the garden, allowing floribundas to bloom in sprays gives much more color and shows off their beauty more brilliantly.
Miniatures can be disbudded or not, depending on the effect you wish to achieve and whether you want large flowers on single stems or uniform sprays. Polyanthas, climbers, shrub roses, and old garden roses are rarely disbudded, as this will destroy their natural appearance; their beauty rests in the large clusters of flowers they produce.