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Are my Peonies overcrowded?

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
by gheerstrumpetvines on August 08, 2006 07:58 AM
Hi there! I moved to an old farmhouse in March of this year. I discovered a row of peonies in the yard. The row is very full of plants and very thick. When the buds came on the scene, I was estatic...there were dozens and dozens of them. However, I got less than 2 dozen blooms that were quite small in comparison with other peonies I have seen and they lasted less than a week. The other buds opened only enough to see the color of the flower through the green covering. There are several trumpet vines growing and now blooming in that same row. Could these be causing the problem? I have no idea how long the Peonies have been there. Do I need to dig them up and divide them? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you!

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Connie
by ND farm girl on August 08, 2006 10:22 AM
I also have a large row of peonies where large trees have grown over them so they don't get any sun. I am in the process of making a new bed for them out in the front yard. Hope that helps them!

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PattyM
by Bestofour on August 08, 2006 01:12 PM
Usually if peonies don't open it's because they're planted too deep. There are certain types that are very particular, make buds, but then don't open if the weather isn't perfect. For the latter, I don't know what can be done.

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by comfrey on August 08, 2006 02:21 PM
Another thing about peonies...If some of these started from seed from the original plants, the flowers on them will not be pretty and big until they have been growing for 3-4 years, So it could be that some of them that had buds were seedlings that weren't old enough to produce many or big flowers, and usually they produce a single instead of double bloom until they reach a certain age. So if you really think they are over crowded then Fall is the best time to thin them out a bit. Also they just may need some care in order to bloom properly.

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by TulsaRose on August 08, 2006 10:42 PM
A late freeze this spring zapped almost all of the buds on my twelve Peonies. I ended up with only eleven blossoms for the season. [Frown]

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Rosie z7a
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by tkhooper on August 09, 2006 12:25 AM
I love my peonies. The blooms don't last very long a week to two weeks is probably the max you can expect. Many bloom types will shatter due to rain or wind which is why they need to be planted somewhere they are protected. Mine are under a maple tree and like it just fine there.

It's very true about the planting depth needing to be as close to 1 inch as you can manage. Which is also why mulching them is not recommended. I've also ran across information that recommends alfalfa pellets as a good food for them. So I scratch it into the soil around the drip line for them. They are the same pellets you find in rabbit food although I did buy mine at a on-line garden center.

Understand that peonies don't like to be disturbed, so if you move them you may have to wait 3 to 8 years for them to bloom again depending on the variety.

I would definitely move the trumpet vine. Peonies last from 75 to 125 years and some types run into the 100.00 of dollars to buy so I wouldn't risk loosing them to an invasive vine.

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by tkhooper on August 09, 2006 12:26 AM
Oh one more thing. If you do decide to divide them you want 3 to 5 eyes on each division. And yes you do need to wait until fall to do that.

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by FaeryWings on August 09, 2006 01:11 AM
Mind if I jump in and ask a question? My peony leaves have a white dusty look to them all of a sudden. I've never noticed that before. Is it a problem? Some of them also have brown spots on the underside.

Thanks
by gheerstrumpetvines on August 09, 2006 08:00 AM
Thanks for all of the advice! I know that trumpet vines are invasive...they are trying to sprout and take over my whole lawn! Fortunately I have a nondiscriminating lawn mower! But even so...I just love them. They started to bloom when everything else was being zapped into submission by the heatwave we had and the color they add to my yard is quite welcome.
Now, then...If I do decide to lift and seperate the Peonies, what is the best way to do it with the least amount of stress to the plants? I've got in the Fall, but do I wait until it freezes? or just until it dies back? Oh, I feel so horticulturally impaired...

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Connie
by tkhooper on August 09, 2006 09:30 AM
First of all mark where they are. It's suprising what I forget between one day and the next. Second wait until they die back. At that time they should be ready to be divided. You want to use a sterile very sharp knife. And when you replant leave at least 2 feet between them. Again you want to make sure each piece has between 3 and 5 eyes on it.

Next about the planting hole. Peonies only want to be about an inch below ground. But you need to dig the hole deeper than that and then add bone meal, blood meal or alfalfa pellets to the hole and mix it in with the dirt. Then build the little hump in the middle of the hole place the division on top of it and then fill in the hole and water and then add more dirt until it is level.

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by gheerstrumpetvines on August 09, 2006 10:38 AM
Thank you. I even wrote it down so I wouldn't forget...I know all about forgeting things...

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Connie

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