Tree peonies

clinton_sMarch 17, 2008

Can you assist with tree peonies - I would like to know at what time of year to prune and also where on the tree to prune. Tree is approximately 4.5 feet high and 4.5 feet wide and has never been touched - approximately 10 years old. I live in Edinburgh Scotland

Very many thanks

Sheena Clinton

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Unless there's dead or diseased wood, I'd leave it alone. A tree peony of that size has taken a long time to get there. I have read of people heading back plants to produce basal branching, but in general this seems unnecessary for such slow growing shrubs. If you do need to prune it for some reason, treat it like a rose bush and make any cuts just above an outward facing bud that looks promising.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2008 at 4:46AM
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I appreciate both the original post and the answer. I was debating about whether I should prune my one tree peony, which is perhaps at 3'x3'. But now I will leave it be. Last week I noticed a new shoot emerging from the soil near the base of the plant (haven't explored to see if there are others) and about twice the number of flower buds it had last year. It was moved slightly last fall when we did a whole front-yard makeover, which included amending our very sandy soil with a generous amount of mushroom compost and a commercial organic fertilizer.

My concern is not limiting the size, just making sure that the stems are sturdy enough to hold the foliage and flowers without bending or breaking.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 11:45PM
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Some of the tp's developed by Saunders always have the flower stems bending. Breaking is another problem but the bending may just be the nature of the plant.

You can prune tp's any time of the year but you will lose the flowers if you prune now.

I was lazy last fall and left the leaf stems that surround the terminal buds on the plants. Did not plan this just no time. The deer did not forage the tops as they have in the past. I will not know until I try again if it is the stems surrounding the buds that the did not like or there was enough other food.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 9:27PM
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peonyman(Zone 5, Lawrence, Ks)

I prune tree peonies in early spring. I only remove the end portion of the branches that are the spent blossom stem and any other portion that is obvious dead. DO NOT cut off anything that has a live bud. Individual canes of most tree peonies will generally die after several years and new canes will rise from the ground to replace them. This is one of the reasons it is so important to plant tree peonies deeply when you first get them. The more of the plant that is under the ground the more canes you will have and the more bloom you will have.

Mai Fleur, for the first time I have had deer in my tree peony beds this year pretty bad. I don't see any evidence of them eating any peonies (yet). They did eat all of the greenery from fall blooming crocus that had been up through much of the winter. They also trampled some of my P. tenuifolia that was in that tree peony bed. The tenuifolia seem to be coming up ok anyway. Those are really tough plants.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 9:51PM
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