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Passionate About Peonies

Passionate About Peonies

At this time of year the perennials are arriving at Hyannis Country Garden, and among all the wonderful new cultivars one old-fashioned plant remains a favorite. Many employees and customers alike are passionate for peonies! Here are some tips for success with these plants.

  • Always grow peonies in the full sun. If your plants have stopped flowering, take a hard look at the amount of sun they receive. Many times as surrounding trees and shrubs grow, our flower gardens become more shaded without our noticing. So make sure your peonies are still getting at least 6 hours of dead on sun including the noon hour.
  • Plan for staking large-flowering peonies early, before the blooms get heavy. Come into the store and find the tallest, sturdiest grow-through support and put it in place now.
  • Many worry too much about planting peonies too deeply. Just remember this: you don’t want the top of the root (usually an orange color  and thicker than your fingers) to show on the surface – you want the tops of those thick roots to be about an inch or two under the surface. The depth isn’t as touchy as many people think, but keep it in mind when planting.
  • Amend a really large area with compost before planting peonies, and fertilize lightly once a year with Flower-tone or Rose-tone.
  • When your peonies are placed in the garden, assume that each one will grow at least three feet tall and four feet in diameter.
    Watch as the bud develop. If the weather is cold and wet, spray early in the season with Serenade to help prevent "bud blast." This is a fungal condition that makes the buds turn dark and hard before they are the size of a pea. Spraying the tops of the plants when the buds are tiny helps keep the fungus at bay in cool, wet springs.

    Watch as the bud develop. If the weather is cold and wet, spray early in the season with Serenade to help prevent “bud blast.” This is a fungal condition that makes the buds turn dark and hard before they are the size of a pea. Spraying the tops of the plants when the buds are tiny helps keep the fungus at bay in cool, wet springs. And by the way…ant’s do not help peony buds to open. The ants are just there to eat the sugary plant sap.

    Double-flowering peonies such as this Festiva Maxima are the most likely to need support. Do it before the flowers are this large if possible.

    Double-flowering peonies such as this ‘Festiva Maxima’ are the most likely to need support. Do it before the flowers are this large if possible. These are also the most fragrant, by the way.

    Single flowering peonies don't usually need staking. They are also lovely, and are just as good in bouquets.

    Single flowering peonies don’t usually need staking. They are also lovely, and are also good in bouquets.

    I don't know about you, but a big bouquet of peonies makes me feel like a wealthy woman. Their fragrance fills the house.

    I don’t know about you, but a big bouquet of peonies makes me feel like a wealthy woman. Their fragrance fills the house.

    So if you have a sunny spot, plant some peonies – be sure to have enough for enjoying them on the plant as well as cutting for in the house.

     

6 Comments

  1. Valerie Garvey on April 27, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Can I move an old existing peony to a full sun spot? We have one that is in full shade.

    • CLFornari on April 27, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      Valerie,
      Yes, you can move the plant. Although the ideal time to move a peony is in the fall, you can move them now as well. Dig as large of a root ball as possible and make sure that the crown of the plant, where the stems come off of the top of the root, is about 2″ beneath soil surface.

  2. Ethan on April 27, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Thanks! What about in the fall/winter? When do I cut back dead growth? I actually waited until this past week to cut it all back, and they seem to be coming up just fine, strong and healthy again this year.

    • CLFornari on April 27, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Peonies can be cut down anytime after Sept 1. Some people wait until hard frost but many cut them earlier since the foliage is often tired and mildew-covered by then anyway. There is no harm in leaving the old stems there for the winter, but there is no advantage to doing so either.

  3. Deborah Young Kroeger on May 5, 2017 at 8:52 am

    We have a tree peony now three years old. Only one in the brightest spot of the garden. Question: do they like to keep their ‘feet’ damp and cool? Last year we lost two blooms because, I think, we over-watered – watering systems converge where it sits. Should leaf mulch be pulled away from the base this time of year?

    Please, besides sun, what do the beauties like/want/need?

    Thanks much from South Dennis.
    DYK

    • CLFornari on May 5, 2017 at 10:50 am

      Deborah,
      Besides sun, these plants like a good deep soaking once a week. Not more often. A light application of Flower-tone once a year, and an inch or two of leaf mulch kept just a couple inches from the stem is perfect.

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