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Rose Pruning Home


01. Purchasing Roses
02. Soil Preparation
03. Planting Roses
04. Pruning of Roses
05. Budding + Grafting
06. Budding of Roses
07. From Cuttings
08. Roses Seed
09. Cultivation
10. Under Glass
11. Without Garden
12. Autumn Roses
13. Pests + Diseases
14. Hybrid Tea
15. Noteworthy Roses
16. Hybrid Polyantha
17. Hybrid Musks
18. Reminders


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Chapter 6 - The Budding Of Roses

It is surprising that in a simple operation like budding there should be so many variations in the methods adopted by different budders. It is true that the differences are slight, but each budder maintains that his is the right method and all others are wrong.

The operation of rose budding consists in lifting the bark where there is no bud, and placing a bud or eye cut from the bush which we wish to increase. For budding to be successful, the sap in the stock must be flowing freely, otherwise failure is certain. This bears out what I have mentioned earlier, that the stock should receive cultivation. The selection of the bud or eye has a certain importance, but not nearly as much as that of the stock. For instance one can use buds which are cut from quite soft growth, although the majority of budders prefer those from wood that has just borne a bloom. The fact is, that success depends on the state of the stock and the neatness and speed of the operation. In actual budding the cutting of the stock and lifting of the bark should not present any difficulties. It is the cutting out of the bud and removal of the sliver of wood in the bud which most beginners find so difficult.

First of all, there is the selection of the growth which is to provide the necessary buds. In spite of what I have said about using soft growth, the beginner would be well advised to choose a shoot about a quarter of an inch in thickness, on which the bloom has just faded. If the shoot is cut with five sets of leaves it should provide three good buds; the ones nearest to the flower, being of doubtful value, should not be used. This is not always so as a variety like Peace will give good buds almost all the way. It may be that some of the buds will have started into growth, and in that case use those below which are dormant or nearly so. The very lowest buds of all on the shoot will have the appearance of being blind, but in fact they are quite good buds and are merely undeveloped.

The best way to learn the art of budding is to practice on a Rambler, or any other similar rose. I do not suggest that one should do this to attempt to change the Rambler into another variety, but merely to obtain practice before attempting to bud the stocks, for it is most likely that until one has mastered the way in which the bud is cut out, the T-cut made and the bud tied in, a few stocks will be spoilt. But by 'trying it out on the dog', so to speak, one can deal with the stocks with more confidence. Once again we bring into use our old friend American Pillar. Choose for the buds a piece of growth that has flowered, and then select a long new shoot a little thicker in which to insert them. A budding knife is best, since it has a bone handle with a thin end, to use in lifting the bark of the shoot. Otherwise, a penknife will serve, with the end of a toothbrush rubbed down to lift the bark. Skilled budders rarely use the handle of their knife, but to open the bark without its help requires long practice.

Needless to say, for such a delicate operation as budding, the knife must be very sharp, especially so for cutting out the bud from the shoot. Some raffia should be to hand, cut into lengths of about fifteen inches, and thin and soft. Do not use dry, stringy stuff as the tying in of the buds should be similar to bandaging a wound. The width of the raffia should be not more than a quarter of an inch; the reason for this will be explained later. It may be necessary to wet the raffia if it has been in store for some time; by dipping it in water and shaking it vigorously it will become quite flat again.

Having got everything in readiness, first make the T-cut in a strong growth of the type previously described. The cross-cut should be made first by drawing the knife across and using only sufficient pressure to cut through the rind or bark; the cut made should not be more than three-eighths of an inch in length. After this the longitudinal cut should be made, beginning about one inch away and drawing the knife right up to the cross-cut. When arriving at this point, by giving the blade a slight twist, it will have the effect of lifting the corners, and this operation can be completed by using the bone bark-lifter. Now the stock is ready to receive the bud.

Take the growth which is to provide the buds and cut off all the leaves, leaving about half an inch of leaf-stalk which provides a convenient handle for manipulating the insertion of the bud. Then, with the lower end of the shoot towards the operator, cut out the bud by cutting a thin sliver about the width of the base of the leaf stalk, beginning the cut about half an inch above, and when the blade has reached the same distance below, turn the back of the blade up and place the thumb on the bud and strip it off. This should leave a long piece of bark at the lower end of the bud, and lifting this up will expose the piece of wood which can easily be pulled out. Gut off the long end of the bark, leaving about half an inch. This should be done with two cuts so that the end is more or less pointed.

When inserting the bud in the stock, particular care should be taken to push it right down to the end of the cut. If there should be a portion of the bud overlapping the stock it should be cut off so that it fits the top of the T. The tying in merely consists in tying a miniature bandage. One can either use a short and a long end, finishing off by slipping the end under a loop, or begin in the middle and finish off by tying a knot. It makes no difference which method is adopted as long as it is neatly done, and air is entirely excluded.

Budding standard roses

After half an hour or so the would-be budder should have become sufficiently proficient to bud the stocks which are to be future rose trees. If standard roses are to be budded, when making the T-cut, see that the point of the knife blade goes quite close to where the lateral growth joins the main stem. The idea is to get the bud as near to the main stem as possible, and, when the end of the bud is being trimmed, little more than a quarter of an inch should be left; the effect of this is that when the bud grows there is no kind of a bottleneck, as so often happens when the buds are inserted about an inch from the main stem. It is usual to bud standards in two or three places so that if one fails it is of no consequence. It is not generally realized that there is no advantage in having more than one growth on a standard, for if one has three which seem strong and healthy the first year, it is not long before the lower-budded lateral becomes the stronger and after two or three years those above it weaken and have to be cut away. The multiple budding of a standard should be looked upon more in the nature of an insurance than anything else. If, after a fortnight or so, the buds are still plump and the leaf stalk drops off at a touch, it means that a union has taken place. If the raffia appears to be constricting the swelling stem, it is best to cut it just behind the bud, but as a rule if the raffia used for tying was soft and thin it breaks of its own accord. It is also very possible that after three weeks have elapsed some of the buds will break into growth and produce a flower. Experienced budders do not care to see this happen but would much rather the buds remained dormant until the following season. Beginners of course would rejoice to see such a quick return for their labors, to say nothing of being certain of a bush from that particular budding. The only drawback is that in the majority of cases the growth from the prematurely grown bud the following year is not as strong as that from a bud which remains dormant. It depends upon the variety as much as anything; usually it is the very free-flowering ones that behave in this fashion.

I have described the budding of standard roses by using the lateral growths. This is always done when the briar is used as a stock. With the rugosa standard stock, it is the main stem that is used to take the buds. Reasons for this are twofold. The rugosa is a very sappy stock when in full growth, and in consequence the bark lifts easily. Also lateral growths do not grow cleanly and singly but mostly in threes. Age of the stem also makes a difference, since the briar main stem is four years old or more and rather tough, and the rugosa is only two.

In budding rugosa standard stocks it is customary to put two or three buds at intervals of about an inch, two on one side and one on the other. My own method, which I have practiced for many years, is to use two buds and place them almost opposite one another and tie in with one piece of raffia. By this method, both growths being level, a much more symmetrical head is produced.

When selecting varieties for budding it is important to know that some varieties will not make a satisfactory union on the standard briar stock. This is more noticeable in the yellow roses with very spiny stems. Some of the pure Hybrid Teas also will not take kindly to the briar. Picture and Golden Melody are two varieties which should be avoided. There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason for this; for example, Frau Karl Druschki will do well as a standard on the briar stock, but Gandeur Lyonnaise and Louise Crette, both seedlings from Frau Karl Druschki, fail to make a union.

With the rugosa there is no cause for worry, as any rose will take on it and make a good growth. Some of the varieties I have grown on the briar standard and which make good heads, are—Peace, Ena Harkness, Red Ensign, William Harvey, The Doctor, Dame Edith Helen, Crimson Glory, Etoile de Hollande, President Hoover, Mrs Henry Bowles, Betty Uprichard, Charlotte Armstrong, Lady Belper, Caroline Testout, Christopher Stone, Golden Dawn, Barbara Richards, Ophelia, Madame Butterfly, Lady Sylvia, Phyllis Gold,

Talisman, Shot Silk, Signora, Tallyho, General McArthur and Virgo. All the Polyantha and Floribunda roses are suitable for the briar stocks and make good heads, as also are the Ramblers, when used for weeping standards.

Budding bush roses

The principle of budding dwarf stocks is exactly the same as for standard roses, except that only one bud is used for each stock and that bud is inserted in the stem at soil level. With the seedling briar the bud is inserted in the collar just below the point from where the growth springs. As a rule with seedling stocks there is not a great deal of choice where the bud should go, for sometimes the space between the roots and the top growth is less than an inch in length, and should it be less than that, the bud should be trimmed so that the stock can accommodate it.

Treatment after budding

After budding is completed, growth that forms on standards below the point of budding should be removed while small, since, if it were allowed to grow, it would take the strength away from the budded shoots. Do not cut away any of the growth of the budded shoots; this should be left until the autumn when all growth has ceased. Then most of it can be cut back, leaving about a foot of stem containing the bud. In March the wild growth should all be cut back to one wild eye beyond the bud, the idea of this being that the growth coming from this briar eye will help to draw the sap up to the bud, and when it has done its work and the bud is growing well, the growth can be cut away. There are many who do not bother to wait to see if the bud is growing well but cut all the shoot away quite closely to the bud, but personally I think it is better to leave a little of the briar beyond the bud. Owing to the removal of all the top growth a large number of growths will appear on the stem and these should be cut off as soon as seen. When the buds are growing well a small cane should be tied to the stem of the briar, protruding about a foot above it so that, as the rose grows, it can be tied to the cane, otherwise there is a great danger of the whole rose growth being blown out by the wind, and then all the work will have been in vain. This only applies to buds that have remained dormant until the spring; those which broke into growth soon after budding will have become firmly attached by this time and there is no danger of their being blown out of the stock. Rugosa standard stocks should be cut down to the topmost bud and the dwarf stocks cut back to the single bud. Here again, a thin cane should be put in the ground quite close to the stock so that as the bud grows it can be tied to the cane.

To sum up, success in rose budding depends on having a sharp knife, doing the work in July, when the sap is running well in the stocks, in preference to August or September, and tying the buds neatly.

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