Monday, August 30, 2010

Glorious Peonies from a brown root

PEONIES - From roots to Garden Queen


Inside look at the growing cycle of a peony. It always amazes me how beautiful flowers come from itty, bitty seeds, a root that looks like a ginger root, and things like that. Looking at this peony root, we'll follow its evolution, transformation into a gorgeous peony flower

You will learn what to do with the roots when it comes, know what to look for as it evolves from root underground to the garden queen that Peonies are.

A protrusion pushing its way out of the ground -
the peonies are coming! the peonies are coming!

Let's go back a little and discuss why peonies need to be planted in the fall.

Peonies grow a majority of their roots in the fall. This allows the plants some time to grow roots and will be less stressed when summer comes. As soon as the roots are planted in moist soil, they quickly send out tiny filament like feeder roots. The cold weather triggers the development of flower buds.

Although peonies will survive when planted in the spring, it takes them longer to get established and flower. Roots dug in the fall do best. Keep the plant watered until the winter rain comes.You take a holiday while they're doing their thing.

Then come February of the following year, you begin to see a wonderful thing occurring in the ground: a protrusion pushing its way out of the ground. The peony snouts! The peonies are coming!

You can see from the picture on the right, the peony snouts at varying heights.

More info in About Peonies.

Peonies Leafing and Growing Taller

Here you can see the snouts turning into leaves and getting taller.
At this stage, the more stems with foliage you have means more flowers coming soon.
If you've had a dry winter, water the peony to give it a drink.

Like the kids say, "are we there yet?"
Not quite. But, we'll see some buds soon.

Peony Buds!

The good sign: BUDS! The excitement is building up.
Notice that almost all of the stems have a bud on it; some have side buds as well.
You have a choice at this point: pinch off the side buds for larger blooms or leave them alone for more blossoms.

Ants and the Peony Buds, how sweet it is!

There's an old wives tale about the peony buds needing the ants to open up. That's just what it is. An old wife's tale.

Ants love the sweet, sticky secretion from the peony buds. The peonies do not benefit from this at all; neither is it harmful to the peonies.

To avoid bringing in ants with your cut flowers, cut the flowers before the petals unfurl. A soft give on the buds indicate that they will open soon and is probably the best time to cut it.

However, the ant on a peony bud does make an interesting picture.

Peony Plant blooming

Paula Fay peony, the star of my garden. Imagine an extravaganza of peony flowers blooming in your garden!

Nothing could warm my heart more. This greeting of beautiful, vibrant blossoms. Frankly, I hate to cut them. They're so beautiful!

View available Peony varieties.

How to prevent flop overs

Note that peonies that are tall or have the double form (big full flowers) will need a support to prevent it from flopping over.

This is usually brought about by rain. The flowers get water logged and the stems can't support all that weight. There are several peony supports available in the market. If you have the tall variety (30"-36" tall), get at least a 36" support. The shorter ones will just cause the peonies to bend over. Heavy tomato cages works as well.

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