Monday, August 23, 2010

How to grow Peonies in your garden

Most people love peonies. They love the flowers, the variety of colors available, fragrance and the impact the flowers make in the garden. Most have tried to grow peonies, but alas, it didn't flower, it just produced leaves or it died.

This is a how to guide for people who want to grow peonies
and are wondering how to start, how to grow them successfully resulting in beautiful, gorgeous flowers blooming in their garden rather than just the leaves.

When visitors come to our Peony Farm in Sequim, Washington, I often get remarks like this: "Oh, I love peonies but I don't know how to grow them!" or something like this: "I don't know, I love peonies and I remember them from my mother's garden but last time I bought a peony root, it didn't do anything" or "I've had it for 3 years and it has never bloomed".

Peonies are the hardiest plant you can plant in your garden if you follow some essential steps to planting. You will be rewarded with some gorgeous, big flowers that will grace your landscape and bring oohs and aahs from your visiting friends and family. The blossoms will grace the rooms in your home.

Are you ready for this?

Which Peony to plant?

You have unlimited choices for your garden. From the old fashioned peonies that you remember from childhood to the newest varieties, and the intersectional peonies (nicknamed as "itohs"), the various peony flower shapes, fragrance and colors - what a delightful surprise awaits you the next peony blooming period! Does it sound like I like peonies? You bet. I love peonies!

Examples: the Garden Treasure ITOH peony shown above; the Festiva Maxima herbaceous peony (white) shown on the left; and Hephestos Tree peony shown on the right.

View varieties available.

The peonies have five (5) blooming periods. Very Early, Early, Mid, Late and Very Late. If you are like most peony enthusiast, you'd want to enjoy the flowers all throughout their blooming period. This might mean selecting a variety from some of these blooming periods. Are you looking to have a peony garden, or to add it in your perennial garden? Are you looking for a color that will look good when you bring cut flowers in the house? Are you looking to complement colors in your garden? Is it going to be the center of attraction? Do you want to create impact with 3 peonies of the same variety? Take all these into consideration when making your peony selections.

Peony Root, Location and Soil

The Foundation

1. First, buy healthy peony roots with at least 3-5 eyes. In order to plant the peonies in the fall, buy the roots early in time for fall planting.

2. Second, select your location. A must - a location with at least 6-8 hours of sun. Choose location where the peony will not compete with any large roots. And remember, peonies do not like to be moved around. You can use an empty plastic pot, move it around the garden till you can picture your peonies sitting in the perfect spot.

3. Third, check your soil. Peonies do not like to sit in water. The roots will rot. You want soil with good drainage (amended clay; not sandy soil). Add cured compost to the soil. Mix it thoroughly. It is a good idea to prepare your soil while waiting for your peony roots to arrive.

You can also check About Peonies for more information.

Planting the Peony

Will it flower or not?

Planting the peony root. Finally, the peonies have arrived. You've prepared the planting bed. Now, the critical part. This section determines if your peony will flower or not.

How do you plant the roots?

  • 1. If the peony root arrived in a bag and you are not able to plant it right away,
  • refresh it with a little water.

  • 2. Remove the tags. Secure the tags for plant identification.

  • 3. Scoop out enough soil so that when you put your peony the root will be sit ting with just 1" to 1 1/2" inch of soil covering it.

  • 4. Position the root in such a way that the eyes are pointing upwards.

  • 5. Cover with soil.

  • 6. Water well.

  • 7. Keep moist until frost.

  • 8. Leave it alone till spring.

Key to this: Plant the root with just an inch or two of soil above the root. Peonies planted too deep will yield you leaves. Nothing more.
Be careful with the watering. Peonies sitting on a basin of water will cause the roots to rot.

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