Buds burst forth every spring, but how much do you really know about these tiny nubs?
Most buds begin forming at the end of a growing season. Generally, trees and shrubs have buds that are covered with protective scales, while most annuals and herbaceous perennials have unprotected “naked” buds. This makes sense because perennial plants need to protect their buds from cold winter temperatures during their dormant phase, while annuals do not. Many buds do require a period of cooler temperatures to stimulate their final growth phase. Unfortunately, unseasonably warm temperatures in winter or early spring can trick plants into producing hormones, called auxins, that stimulate budbreak. Opening too soon increases the chance of frost damage.
A bud by any other name…
The embryonic tissue found inside a bud is made up of meristem cells that can grow into either leafy shoots or flowers. If you look closely at new buds, you will notice that some are more narrow and pointed (leaf buds), while others are more rounded (flower buds), and a few, called mixed buds, are both.
Where a bud develops on a stem determines what we call it:
Buds are also classified by the way they grow, or their morphology. Buds can be scaly, covered, hairy, or naked.
Bud pests and diseases
Being tender new growth, buds are susceptible to a large number of pests and diseases. These pests include budworms, cutworms, Eriophyid mites, citrus bud mites, weevils, thrips, and dryberry mites. Shot hole disease can also attack buds. Dormant sprays, Bordeaux mixtures, and fixed copper treatments can protect buds from many of these pests and diseases, when applied correctly. Sticky barriers can also be used to block crawling pests from ever reaching your buds.
Take a closer look at your plants today - can you tell if the buds will become leaves or flowers?
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