Decoding the Enigma of Side Buds on Peonies: Should You Disbud or Let Them Grow?


Peonies are known for their beautiful and showy flowers. These floral marvels come in a range of colors, from soft pinks to vibrant reds and whites. Peony flowers are deeply textured with layers upon layers of petals that give them a full and lush appearance. But did you know that you can actually manipulate the way your peonies bloom?

Removing the side buds, also known as disbudding, is a quick and simple process that can result in larger and more impressive flowers. When peonies first appear in late spring, you may notice small side buds forming along the stems. By removing these buds, you allow the plant to concentrate its energy on growing larger flowers on the main stem.

So, why would you want to remove these side buds? Well, there are a few reasons. First, by disbudding, you can make sure that your peonies produce the largest and most impressive flowers possible. This is particularly important if you plan to use the flowers for arrangements or special occasions. Second, by removing the side buds, you can prevent fungal diseases from spreading throughout the plant. Lastly, disbudding can help prevent the plant from becoming weak and neck-breaking due to the weight of too many blooms.

Disbudding is a technique that has been practiced for many years by peony enthusiasts and professional growers. It involves carefully removing the small side buds with your fingers or a pair of sharp scissors. The ideal time to disbud is when the side buds are about the size of a small pea and are still green. Simply pinch or cut off the bud, making sure to remove it as close to the stem as possible.

It’s important to note that not all peonies require disbudding. Certain varieties may naturally produce fewer side buds, while others may not benefit from disbudding at all. Additionally, disbudding is not necessary for all growing conditions. If your peonies are planted in a shady area or have weak stems, it may be best to leave the side buds intact. It’s also worth considering the overall health and vigor of your peony plant. If the plant is undernourished or has recently been transplanted, it may be best to leave the side buds to ensure the plant’s vitality.

While disbudding can be an effective way to enhance the appearance of your peony flowers, it’s important to remember that it’s not a requirement. Some gardeners prefer to leave the side buds intact, enjoying the natural charm and abundance of a peony clump in full bloom. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether disbudding is right for your peonies and your garden.

So, the next time you’re admiring the stunning blooms in your peony garden, take a moment to consider whether disbudding might be a bonus in your growing process. And if you decide to give it a try, remember to follow the simple steps and tips outlined above to ensure the best results for your peonies.

For more information on peonies and other gardening tips, be sure to check out the links below:

– Quick and Easy Guide to Growing Peonies

– How to Fertilize Peonies for Maximum Flower Production

– Preventing and Treating Common Peony Diseases

Disbudding Peonies on the Flower Farm

Disbudding peonies is an important task on the flower farm. Although some growers don’t practice disbudding, it has its benefits. By removing side buds, you can direct the plant’s energy towards producing fewer but larger flowers. This results in more visually appealing blooms that are highly prized by flower enthusiasts.

Disbudding can also help to reduce the risk of pests and diseases. By removing the side buds, you create more airflow and sunlight around the plant, which makes it less attractive to insects and fungal diseases.

If you want to disbud your peonies, it’s important to do it at the right time. The best time to disbud is when the peony stems are about 6 inches tall, usually in early spring. At this stage, the buds are still immature and easily removable.

To disbud a peony, start by selecting a recently planted or mature clump. Make sure the peony has been properly fertilized and watered. Locate the side buds on the stem, which are smaller and less developed than the terminal bud at the top. Gently remove the side buds by pinching them off with your fingers or using small pruning shears.

Be careful not to break or damage the stem while removing the side buds. If the stem breaks, the peony won’t flower. After removing the side buds, it’s important to stake the peony for support, especially if it’s a large-flowering variety. Use bamboo stakes and tie the stems loosely to them, making sure not to constrict the growth.

Removing the side buds will also help to prevent the peonies from becoming overcrowded. Peonies tend to form clumps over the years, and if left unattended, they can fail to grow and produce fewer flowers. By removing side buds and dividing the clumps every few years, you can ensure that your peonies stay healthy and bloom abundantly.

Disbudding peonies may require some extra effort, but the rewards are well worth it. By directing the plant’s energy towards producing fewer but larger flowers, you can create stunning arrangements and bouquets that will surely impress. Plus, by reducing the risk of pests and diseases, you can keep your peonies looking healthy and vibrant for years to come.

Why disbud peony plants

Peonies are known for their beautiful floral displays, but did you know that removing side buds can actually enhance the blooming process? Many growers don’t realize the benefits of disbudding and miss out on the full potential of their peony plants.

When peony plants are young and full of energy, they often produce multiple side buds along with the main bud at the top of the stem. While these side buds may seem like an added bonus, they can actually weaken the overall bloom as the plant’s energy is spread out among multiple flowers. By removing the side buds, you allow the main bud to fully develop and produce a larger and more impressive bloom.

Disbudding is a simple process that involves carefully removing the side buds with your fingers or a pair of snips. It’s important to do this as early as possible, preferably before the side buds show any sign of opening. By removing them at this stage, you ensure that all the plant’s energy is directed towards producing one large, beautiful bloom.

Another reason why growers disbud peony plants is to keep the plants from becoming too top-heavy. Peonies have large, heavy blooms, and if the plants are not properly staked or supported, they can easily fall over due to the weight of the flowers. By removing the side buds, you reduce the number of blooms on each stem, which helps to prevent the plants from toppling over.

Additionally, removing side buds can actually help to extend the blooming season. Peonies have a limited number of blooms they can produce each year, and by removing the side buds, you allow the plant to allocate more energy towards producing larger, more robust blooms. This can result in a longer-lasting and more impressive flower display in your garden.

So, if you want your peonies to have bigger, stronger blooms and a longer blooming season, consider disbud the side buds. This simple removal process can make a big difference in the overall appearance and performance of your peony plants. Remember to disbud early in the season, stake or support your plants if needed, and enjoy the armloads of beautiful blooms that your peonies will produce.

How peony plants grow

Peony plants are herbaceous perennials that grow from tuberous roots. They are native to Asia, Europe, and Western North America. Peony plants can grow up to three feet tall and have large, showy flowers that come in a variety of colors.

Peony plants prefer full sun, but can tolerate some shade. They need well-drained soil and should be planted in the spring or fall. Peonies are best grown in USDA hardiness zones 3-8, where they can withstand cold winter temperatures.

Once planted, peony plants take a few years to become established and reach their full potential. In the first year, the plants will usually produce only a few flowers, and those flowers may be smaller than average. However, with proper care and the right growing conditions, the plants will produce more flowers each year and eventually reach their mature size.

Peony plants are relatively low-maintenance, but there are a few things gardeners can do to help them grow their best. It is important to keep the plants well-watered, especially during dry spells. Fertilizing the plants in the spring and fall can also help promote healthy growth and abundant blooms.

Pests and diseases can sometimes be a problem for peony plants. Insect pests like aphids, spider mites, and thrips can damage the foliage and buds, while fungal diseases like botrytis and powdery mildew can cause the flowers to become discolored or develop spots.

To prevent pests and diseases, it is important to keep the garden clean and free of debris. Removing any dead or withered foliage and flowers can also help prevent the spread of disease. In addition, peony plants should be spaced adequately to allow for good air circulation, as this can help prevent fungal infections.

Peony plants can be propagated by division. This is typically done in the fall when the plants are dormant. To divide a peony plant, dig up the entire clump of roots and carefully separate it into smaller sections. Each section should have at least three to five eyes (buds) and some healthy roots.

Overall, peonies are beautiful and rewarding plants to grow in the garden. With the right care and growing conditions, they can produce stunning flowers year after year.

Here’s how we disbud peony plants

Disbudding peony plants is a process of removing side buds or small shoots that form on the stems of the peonies. Most gardeners choose to disbud their peony plants in order to promote full and healthy blooms. Disbudding is especially important for peony growers who prioritize flower production, as removing side buds allows the main bud to develop into a larger and more beautiful flower.

Disbudding is typically done in the spring, as the young peony plants start to develop side buds. Here’s a quick guide on how to disbud peony plants:

  1. Start by locating the side buds on the peony stems. These are the smaller buds that grow alongside the main bud.
  2. Prepare your tools by cleaning them and sanitizing them, to avoid any spread of diseases or insect infestations.
  3. Gently grasp the side bud with your fingers, and use a sharp, sterilized knife or pair of scissors to cut it off as close to the stem as possible. Be careful not to damage the main bud or the stem.
  4. Continue this process for each side bud on the peony stems.
  5. Once you have finished disbudding, make sure to dispose of the removed side buds in a proper manner, to prevent any diseases or pests from spreading.

Disbudding peony plants can be a time-consuming task, especially for large peony gardens. However, many experienced growers believe that the extra effort is worth it, as it results in larger and more spectacular flowers. Disbudding also helps to prevent overcrowding and allows the peony plant to focus its energy on producing fewer but higher-quality blooms.

Remember, disbudding is not the only option for peony enthusiasts. Some gardeners prefer to embrace the natural growth of side buds, as they believe it adds charm and character to the peony plants. It’s all about personal preference and the specific goals of the grower.

In Oregon, where the weather can be extreme and unpredictable, disbudding peony plants is often recommended. The colder winters and early frosts can sometimes damage the side buds, resulting in fewer blooms. By disbudding, growers can ensure that their peonies will bloom beautifully, despite the unpredictable weather conditions.

So, whether you choose to disbud or not, it’s important to understand the disbudding process and its potential benefits. Disbudding can make a significant difference in the size and beauty of your peony blooms, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide what works best for your garden and your peony variety. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find the right approach for your peony plants!

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.