How to Grow and Care for Peonies

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Peonies are perennials that come back every spring to take your breath away. The plants may live longer than you do. Some have been known to thrive for 100 years.

Peony plants require little maintenance as long as they are planted properly and establish themselves. They do not respond well to transplanting. They’re hardy to USDA Zone 3 and grow well as far south as Zones 7 and 8. In most of the country, the rules for success are simply full sun and well-drained soil. Peonies even relish cold winters, because they need chilling for bud formation.

Peonies make fine sentinels lining walkways and a lovely low hedge. After its stunning bloom, the Peony’s bushy clump of handsome glossy green leaves lasts all summer, and then turns purplish or gold in the fall, as stately and dignified as any shrub.

Where to Plant

The hardy Peony plant prefers full sun, pH-neutral, well-draining soil and a deep cold spell each year to help it regenerate in the spring. Depending on the variety you choose, they can flower from spring through early summer with plump, showy, feathery blooms in hues of pink, red, peach, and white.

Unlike most perennials, Peonies do not need to be dug up and divided as they grow and mature.

When to Plant

The ideal time to plant Peony tubers is in the late fall before the first hard frost. Peonies do not respond well to being transplanted, so we recommend planting tubers, rather than transplanting an established plant.

How to Plant

1. Dig a flowerbed approximately 2 feet (60 cm) deep and 2 feet (60 cm) across in a sunny spot with pH-neutral, well-draining soil.

2. Enrich the bed’s soil by adding up to a cup of bone meal to it and mixing well.

3. Place Peony tubers in the hole with the eyes facing up and loosely cover the roots, approximately 2 inches (5 cm) below the soil surface under the tubers.

4. Gently fill the hole with the enriched soil and then water thoroughly every other day for the next few weeks.

5. Mulch lightly with bark for the first year, but be sure to remove the mulch in the spring so the plant can emerge without difficulty.

Don’t get discouraged if you do not have blooms for the first year or two. Peonies may take 3 to 5 years to be established enough to bloom. Once Peonies are established, your patience will be rewarded for years to come with stunning flowers that will require very little care.

Care Tips

If your newly growing Peonies seem leggy or are starting to bend close to the ground, gently stake the plant stalk so it remains upright.

It’s normal to discover ants crawling on Peony flowers. These ants eat nectar and not the plant itself. They also eat pest insects. Simply shake off the ants if you decide to cut some of the flowers, otherwise leave them alone.

Source: newengland.com

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