I have some peonies that I inherited but they are under a big tree. Just this year they have bloomed and I love them. I know from experience that they don’t like to be moved so I am going to leave these where they are. I would, however, like to plant more. Any advice on light, soil, position in garden, and any problems they are prone to? – Patty O.
This was apparently a good year for peonies. Everyone who has them says they bloomed beautifully, and many who don’t have them say they’d like to add them to the garden. Now that their season in the sun has come and gone and their lovely flowers are just a fragrant memory, it’s no wonder a gardener might want to plant more. Here, again, are the basics:
Light: Full sun, but they can manage with a little shade in the afternoon. Soil: Work in plenty of organic material, because they must have good drainage. Position in the garden: Try not to make them compete with the roots of nearby trees and large shrubs.
Problems? Watch for botrytis, a common fungal disease that causes plants to wilt, leaves to develop black splotches and buds to dry up or turn brown and mushy. It doesn’t kill the plant, but it’s best to clean up around it as soon as you can. Remove and destroy infected leaves, and in the fall, cut the stalks down to the ground and dispose of them to prevent the disease from overwintering in the bed. To prevent the problem, The Southern Living Garden Book suggests spraying with a copper fungicide as new growth emerges in spring. (Always, always follow directions on the label of any chemical you use in the garden.)
Planting: Dig the soil deeply and work in plenty of organic matter, but plant the roots so that the eyes are only 1 inch below the surface; peonies that are planted too deep may not flower as well.
Waiting: Peonies are finicky, and often – usually – don’t bloom the first year. Be patient.