Growing Peonies – Paeonia
May and June gardens would lack something without this outstandingly beautiful garden flower. The peony shoots off its display of bloom in a relatively short number of weeks but retains the perfection of its green and arching foliage through the season.
Peony growing information
The herbaceous type of peony that dies down in the autumn is the variety most commonly grown. It offers a wide range of colors, from dazzling white to deep maroon, and various types of bloom. Peonies make an excellent companion flower with tall bearded irises. The flowers and foliage make the peony a valuable plant for planting in the middle range of perennial borders or in beds by themselves
PLANTING: Roots may be planted from the first of September until hard frost. Prepare the ground ahead of planting 1 or 2 weeks by spading deep (12 to 14 inches), incorporating Fertilizer Food through this depth at the rate of 1 pound (1 pint) per 25 square feet. Select root divisions with at least 3 eyes and set so that eyes are 2 or 3 inches below the surface of the soil and the plants 3 to 4 feet apart) planting either in full sun or in partial shade, but riot close to trees or shrubs unless both peonies and trees are fed liberally. Mulching the first winter is usually desirable.
SPRING CARE: Start cultivation early. Feed Fertilizer soon after growth starts, using 1 rounded tablespoonful around each plant and cultivating it into the soil. The feeding is important since the peony plant makes a very rapid early growth and needs this complete feeding to produce foliage and blooms. For larger blooms, disbud, the plant, allowing only the terminal bud to develop. For quantity of flowers and a longer flowering season, leave some of the lateral buds. I
DIVISION: Peonies need not be disturbed until the flowers grow small and the stems crowded-as long as 10 years. Three-year plants can be divided for increasing stock. In digging, loosen the soil 18 to 20 inches around the plant, and at least 12 inches deep, lift the clump carefully, let roots dry in the sun. Shake off soil and wash roots free of dirt and cut the stems to 2 inches. Start working the roots until they show where they easily separate then cut at these points with a knife. Leave at least 3 eyes on each section for planting. The early fall is usually the preferred dividing time.
DISEASES: Root knot, blight, and leaf spot are common peony diseases. As a preventive measure, burn cut-off leaves and stalks in the fall and remove soil close around the crown and replace with fresh soil, sterilizing soil with a formaldehyde solution. In case of bad infestations of root knot, lift the clump and place in a 30-minute bath of water at 120′ F. Avoid applications of manure around stems and crown and remove mulch early in the spring, as these conditions are favorable for fungus diseases.
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