Peony growing above ground?

pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)March 5, 2006

Would you please tell me what to do with my peony?

It is about 12 years old. Some of the roots have grown above ground and something has tunnelled through them. It had always done wonderfully until last year when the foliage was rather yellow and grown to about 1/2 of its usual height. There were also fewer blossoms than before.

What went wrong?

Thank you for your help.

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calistoga_al

If your roots are visable on top of the ground they will look as though they were tunneled through. I don't know why your plant is suddenly so high in the soil but I would pile some compost on it now to bring your buds down an inch or two below the soil. In the fall I would dig it up and and then dig out the old soil and either replace it or amend it down about two feet with compost. Then replant your peony to the correct depth unless you want to divide it into more plants. Al

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 10:08AM
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Nancy zone 6

I'm no peony expert, and I know I have read that they almost never need to be divided, but my grandmother always said to divide peonies every 7 years in August. She did have lovely peonies.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 9:43AM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

The best Peonies, grow amd mature to have lots of flowers. This makes them better plants, but also makes them crowded over time, reducing flowering. If plant parts are fighting for sun and food, they won't produce the flowers we gardeners like.

My mother also thinks Peonies should be divided every few years, 3-4, because her plants REALLY DO need to be divided. They are immense in that amount of time. She digs them up and she hacks them apart. Usually gets angry and takes the ax or bow saw to the rootball (bushel basket sized) to reduce the size!! Can't get a shovel or fork to pull it apart by herself and she won't wait until I can come down to do it.
I have scheduled her time on my calendar, to get her Peonies done this year. Even with this kind of casual care, her Peonies flower wonderfully, with no pause in blooming after replanting.
I know some of the great results are from proper bed preparation after building her new house. She worked very hard to get nice border garden soil before planting. They bloomed the first year after planting. She doesn't do much of anything else special to Peonies though. We do some mulch every year, put hoops around them to keep flowers up. Pick a LOT of flowers for everyone else and her church.
Her tree Peony is also beautiful, usually 30+ blooms on a small, 3ft shrub. She trims branches that get in her way. Nothing else special. Plant is in full sun because that is the only place she had for it. Just beautiful when blooming. She has folks stop when when driving by, ask about it, since bush is right near steps of her city house. Bright yellow bush is about 10yrs old. However her bush has outbloomed mine from the start, same age.
It has been about 12 years since original Peony planting and this will be the third time to dig up the Peonies. This year I will add some powdered lime to the beds, some general fertilizer, Maybe some shredded leaves if I still have them, stir it in before resetting the Peony roots. Mom might have some grass clippings we can add, to replace organic material, loosen up the soil.
I have my hand up for the Peony trimmings, extra roots she thins out. I don't think I will use the ax to break them up though! Maybe it stimulates the root somehow, and I should!! I have plans to fill in a border area at my house. I will have to see if her wonderful, gifted, leftover, no-name plants will do their thing for me in different area and soil.
I have been nice to my Peonies, they bloom, but not that spectacular. Certainly not enough growth to need dividing often, even with full sun and nice dirt. They get moved because I change the layout of garden.
I am going over to the dark side, not going to be so nice to Peonies now. I have a new bed for Peonies, both herbacous and Tree. Have done the good basics, now need to get bed planted. If casual treatment like Mom gets me results like she has, I will be a changed gardener!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 12:57PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

I'll follow all the approaches suggested here. I'll cover them first for now and divide them in the fall. This is a humungous clump. I'll have to find more spots for it. It has the loveliest fragrance too.

Thank you very much for the tips.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 1:42PM
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