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alfalfa pellets and peonies

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
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by tkhooper on May 27, 2006 03:42 AM
I went shopping on line and bought some alfalfa pellets because I've read that they are really good for peonies. I did read that they should be applied as a side dressing. The only problem now is I need someone to explain what side dressing entails because I don't have a clue lol.

If peonies weren't my all time favorite flower I'm sure I never would have done this but they are and I did so now I really need the help.

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by Longy on May 27, 2006 08:54 AM
I've no idea what alfalfa pellets are, i guess they are a nitrogen boost in pellet form, made from alfalfa??? but as for a side dressing, it means to just spread some around the plants' root zone. They probably start to break down and provide the soil with nitrogen. What'll they think of next?

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The secret is the soil.
by tkhooper on May 27, 2006 09:07 AM
Hi Longy,

It so good to see you posting. That must have been a long trip on the rig huh? What all is happening around your place?

The pellets are suppose to produce some kind of fatty acid that helps the plant absorb needed nutrients or at least that's what I read. And it has magnesium in it so I guess it probably does some of the same job as the epsom salt.

So I leave the pellets on top of the dirt and just water well?

I was kind of concerned because peonies won't bloom if their roots aren't one inch from the top of the soil. And I was thinking that I needed to rake them in and I was afraid of damaging the roots. I'm rather clutzy. They are kind of a finicky plant but they are so pretty I just had to try them. And I really did get a good deal on them. I got 5 different kinds for 6 bucks and usually I see them advertised for either one dollar per seed or between 30.00 and 125.00 for plants that are already mature enough to bloom.

So, thank you for the explanation of how to use the pellets. I'm really hoping I can coax the other 4 plants to bloom next year. It will be year three for them and that's suppose to be the earliest they will bloom after being disturbed. I have my fingers crossed big time.

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by johnCT on May 27, 2006 01:36 PM
They are normally used as animal feed. I can buy them around here at the Tractor Supply stores for 7-8 bucks for a 50 lb bag. It is becoming commonly used as an organic fertilizer as it is relatively high in protein. Cracked corn can also be used. You are basically feeding the microbes in the soil. TK, side dressing is basically applying it to the "side" of the plant's stem on top of the soil and scratch it in a bit. Inside the plants drip ring.

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John - Zone 6
by tkhooper on May 28, 2006 02:37 PM
Thanks John,

I know I pay a horible premium because I don't have a car but even the premium is cheaper than taxi fair lol. Thank you for the explanation about side dressing. I'm just a worry wart upon occassion lol.

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by Squirrel on May 28, 2006 03:45 PM
Well, I learned something new tonight!! I didn`t know that peonies` roots should be 1 inch from the top of the soil. I only ever get 1 or 2 blooms. This is the 3rd year. Do you think I have them planted too deep? Also, learned about the pellets. Gangbusters!!!!!! lol Sue

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What goes around comes around, so be nice!lol
by tkhooper on May 30, 2006 11:38 AM
Well there are bunches and bunches of different types of peonies and they vary somewhat depending on the type. If they were disturbed three years ago you've been lucky to get any flowers at all before now from what I can gather from things I've read. And some can take as many as 8 years before they bloom the first time.

If you have regular peonies rather than a tree peony I believe it is one flower per stem. And each year you should see more stems popping up. The more stems the more flowers. If you have a bunch of stems that don't flower and they have been in the same place undisturbed for at least 3 years then it might be a good idea to transplant them to a new area.

That area needs a pH of between 6.5 to 7.0. And the soil should be loosened up down to a depth of 12 to 18 inches and then back filled so that the rhizomes top is one inch from where the soil will be once it is covered. Then water so that all air pockets are removed and finish filling the hole. And of course adding bone meal to the hole is always welcome.

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