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HOW TO PLANT, GROW, AND CARE FOR FRESH PEONY

Fresh Peony

The beautiful peonies bloom in springtime and give rich foliage. These are perennial plants hence can grow back every time when spring arrives. Their longevity and full bloom is also a thing to wonder as some of the varieties can be dated 100 years ago. American writer Henry Mitchell has praised the fluff and majesty of peonies too.   These need little to no maintenance and if they take a liking to the ambience and weather, they establish themselves pretty well and can grow almost on their own.  However, these are known to dislike transplanting and usually, don’t grow back when efforts are made to shift their natural habitat. Accredited hardy zones of zone 3 to zone 8, peonies just require well-drained soil and full sun. However, the bud formation happens in freezing temperature so a phase of winters is also appreciated by them.  

The fluffy flowers look incredible and beautiful along the walkways and in low-hedge balconies.  The leaves of plant last throughout the summer eventually to turn gold or purple as the fall approaches and then wither to oblivion. In your garden, peonies can go along with veronica, iris, roses, baptisias and columbines.  White peonies look ethereal with forget-me-not and yellow iris whereas the bunch of pink peonies looks gorgeous with violet and blue nepeta.

Planting:

  • As said earlier that peonies are no maintenance plant but they don’t respond well to the relocation and transplanting. Hence, ensure that you are choosing perfect location from the very beginning.
  • Fertile, deep and moist yet well-drained pH neutral soil is ideal for them.  The soil should be fertile and well-mulched. If the soil is heavy or sandy, it is advised that you 1 cup bonemeal to it and tamp it firmly to make it even.
  • Peonies love organic fertilizers and hence add 1 cup of organic fertilizer in the planting hole.
  • The plant is very dainty and delicate against natural odds and pests. Hence, it is recommended that you arrange a shelter against strong winds.
  • Peonies need to be grown with at least three to four feet of gap as they don’t like competition in terms of space, moisture and food.  By planting them at the desired gap, you can also ensure proper air circulation.
  • The plants love sun and when the Sun is at its brightest best, it is their favorite part and they bloom like a full moon.
  • Usually peonies are sold as bare root tubers with four or five eyes. These tubers come from the divisions of a four to five year old plant.
  • The ideal time to plant peonies is in late October or September.  If you are thinking to take chances or move an established peony, well, do it now or by November. This is the dormant phase where they will prepare for the phase ahead and grow when the soil is getting warm with the change in the weather.
  • Keep the timing of planting peonies as such that the buds are settled before the first frost as it has been observed that peonies planted in spring lag one season behind than the peonies planted in the fall.
  • Don’t plant peonies too deep. The depth of hole should be about one and a half to 2 inches and not more.  The hole should be dug generously and has to be in a sunny spot. Compost and manure the soil if you find it too heavy or sandy.  The eyes of the tuber should face upwards and after backfilling the soil, water it thoroughly.

Care:

  • Peonies take their own sweet time to establish. Like young kids, they need constant care and attention of even the minutest details but once that barrier is crossed, you can sit back and see the impact of good and strong foundation unroll.
  • They don’t need to be dug and divided like perennials and can do with neglect too once established. Little compost and organic fertilizer such as well-rotted manure should be used in early summer. But it will be much better if you could work on the spot and soil. If that’s sorted, you won’t need to do much work afterwards.
  • The pain point of peonies is always their stems, which can’t carry the fluffy and fully developed blooms.  You can find metal peony rings in the market easily these days that let the plant grow through the rings while providing the necessary support.
  • Remove the dead foliage as soon as you spot them to avoid the onset of any fungal disease.
  • Avoid overdoing the mulch, especially in the spring.
  • Usually peonies aren’t the one to be threatened much with pests and diseases.  However, keep an eye on stem rot, blight, Japanese beetle, ringspot virus, Verticillium wilt and nematodes.  
  • Though, you might want to say hello to the ants that are crawling to the buds. The ants eat nectar while indirectly killing the pests. So, don’t spray them.  Peonies are also deer-resistant plant.
  • Peonies make gorgeous cut flowers and can stay fresh and vibrant for more than a week. Just cut long stems and you can arrange them in desired arrangement.

 

Recommended varieties of peonies are Early Scout that gives red flowers, firelight with pale-pink single buds, white, fluffy Norma Vola, camellia twin white flower Elsa Sass and Karl Rosenfield that gives big crimson flowers.