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  • February garden tips & tasks

    Fight cabin fever by getting on a sunny day to pick up sticks, leaves and other garden debris that has accumulated.

    Keep bird feeders filled to attract a wide variety of winged visitors to your garden in winter.

    Plant a tree if the soil isn't frozen. Dig a hole that is slightly wider than the tree's root ball, but no deeper. Place the tree in the hole; replace the soil and water it well. Add mulch, but don't mound it up around the tree's trunk.

    A Valentine's Day bouquet of roses will last longer if you cut off the bottoms of the stems at an angle bfore you place them in lukewarm water in a clean vase. Remove the lower leaves from the stem before you place the bouquet in water.

    Dig winter annuals out of the garden beds: deadnettle, henbit, chickweed and other unwanted plants before they take over the beds.

    Cut back or mow over liriope (monkey grass) before new growth begins.

    Don't overwater your houseplants. Before you add water, check the soil's moisture level by sticking your finger into the soil.

    Provide nesting boxes to welcome birds to your garden Cavity-dwelling birds may start a family in a simple box with 11/2-inch entry hole.

    Grow your own transplants indoors under lights. Start seeds of cool-weather plants now to have sturdy transplants to set out in a few weeks.

    Save the date - Middle Tennessee garden events

    Planners of the ever-popular Nashville Lawn & Garden Show announce that next spring's show will be March 2 - 5, 2017 at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The theme will celebrate Gardens of the Future with garden displays, lectures, vendors, floral designs, and special features for children. The centerpiece of the all-indoors event is, as always, the walk-through, interactive garden displays from some of Middle Tennessee's top landscape and gardening companies. Free lectures are planned each day on a range of garden-related topics, and visitors can shop the Marketplace with more than 150 vendors. Complete details will be available soon at http://nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com, where you can also sign up for the email newsletter and receive updates.

    The Perennial Plant Society's annual Plant Sale will be April 8, opening at 9 a.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale offers newly released and hard-to-find perennials from top local nurseries -- more than 450 varieties of perennials, vines, grasses, shrubs and annuals. The event supports local scholarships for Tennessee horticulture students and monthly gardening programs, open to the public, at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. For information visit www.ppsmt.org.

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Transplant a peony

When can peonies be separated and transplanted?
Peonies can be kind of fussy about where they’ll grow and what they’ll do if you try to move them. In fact, most garden experts will tell you that peonies seldom need dividing, and recover poorly from any attempt to do so.
That said, there’s a good time to do if, if you must, and that time is late summer or early fall. Make divisions or root cuttings with at least three growing points, then replant the divisions 18 to 24 inches apart. Plant them in a new bed that has been dug 12 inches deep, into which you have worked good compost or other organic matter. Pick a spot in full sun or a place that gets a little afternoon shade. Set plants in the ground at the same level or slightly higher than they were growing before you dug them up.
The cuttings should begin to grow next spring, so make sure they have sufficient moisture when they do. Judy Lowe, the author of Month-By-Month Gardening in Tennessee & Kentucky, suggests placing a half-inch of compost on top of the soil in spring and summer, and applying a slow-release fertilizer in mid-spring.
Then sit back and be patient. Even with this good care, it may take a couple of years for a transplanted peony to recover and bloom well again.

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