Monday, June 4, 2012

Peonies Forever

“In peaceful old gardens that remain unfretted by changing fashions and modern introductions we are apt to find huge bushes of the old May-flowering PEONY… ” said Louise B. Wilder, in "Color in My Garden", published in 1918.

Antique peonies are real survivors, you will find them in most old gardens, as they can almost live forever.
There are some early magenta blooms and even earlier bright red fernleaf ones, but most of them are famously known as Memorial Day Peonies because that’s when they start blooming.

Peony Tips:

  • They do need sun, but not too much; with most varieties, you can get decent flowers from a half day’s worth and the farther south you are, the more the peonies can use a break from broiling afternoons.
  • Be sure to plant shallowly – those fat growth buds should be no more than an inch and a half below ground. The number one cause of bloom failure is over-deep planting… or, over time, the gradual movement of compost and mulch that buries those buds as effectively as if you had done it yourself.
  • They don’t like acid soil; if your rhododendrons are doing great, it’s a sign you should add some lime to the peony bed before you start planting. Fall is the best time to plant (and only one to divide).
  • Never in the compost! The Botrytis blight that plagues them – their own personal fungus: Botrytis paeoniae - is ever present, even on apparently healthy growth, so everything that leaves the peony bed should stay gone: discarded bouquets , the fall cleanup pile, Everything. Put it in the garbage bag.
  • Peonies last a long time as cut flowers and can be held in bud stage for weeks –  in a cool room. 

Peonies are very tough, if undisturbed, which is part of their charm. Also very handsome when not flowering; the leaves make a lovely hedge behind later blooming flowers and are also a good screen to mask the ripening foliage of spring bulbs. Deer and rabbits do not eat them. They do not need dividing - ideal plant for every garden!

. . . Hyper Smash