Newbie to Peonies With Two Questions

booknApril 22, 2009

1. I planted thee bareroot herbaceous peonies in early March. They were planted in the same area, and I tried to plant them only about an inch deep. So far only one is performing well. It currently has multiple sprouts, the largest of which is already about four inches tall with the leaves unfolding. However, the second plant has actually sprouted twice and each time the sprout has died. And, finally, the third one has never even broken the ground. Is this normal and is there any hope for the two that are having problems?

2. I also bought a mail-order tree peony. When it arrived earlier this month, I was actually really impressed at the size. I followed all directions exactly and planted it out immediately. It had tons of new growth all over it, and I was actually a little shocked by this. Since the nursery it came from was in Minnesota, I really figured it would only have eyes and would probably still be dormant. Anyway, since planting, all the new growth has pretty much turned brown and looks dead. I am really concerned. I paid a lot for the plant, and I really feel like it had too much new growth to have been disturbed and shipped. Will it send out more new growth even though the current growth died? If so, when... this year or will I have to wait til next year?

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Well, I was hoping I would have gotten some input by now, but I will give a little update. I dug down with my fingers to the tops of each herbaceous peony which is not up, and I do find eyes that are still alive. They are small and white, though, so I'm assuming they will probably just not come up this year and I will have to wait til next year to see if they live.

As for the tree peony. It may be just my hopeful imagination, but over the past couple of days it does appear that it's new growth may be perking up some. I can actually see a couple of flower buds in their earliest stages, and though the foliage remains withered looking, I see some areas where it appears the leaves are trying to open.

I knew peonies were peculiar plants from one previous attempt many years ago to grow one that was given to me (I failed). To be honest, though, I did not know how particular they really are. My next door neighbor when I was growing up had clumps of giant white-flowered ones all over her yard. I specifically remember the ants crawling all over the unopend flower buds and her telling me to be careful not to cut down the young shoots each spring, as I mowed her yard (yes back when kids actually worked).

I will still appreciate input from others, but I think I may actually start checking out some local nurseries and garden centers to see if I can find any potted peonies to replace the two herbaceous ones that are performing poorly. If I find any (peonies are pretty hard to come by here in Alabama), I may just pot the two and see if they come up next year. As for the tree peony, all I can do is try my best to baby it and keep my fingers crossed. Everyone do the same for it. The only other plants I have ever spent that much money on in my life are my Crimson Queen Japanese Maple and my Snowfountain weeping cherry.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 9:39AM
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cziga(Zone 5 -Toronto)

I don't know much about peonies myself, but I transplanted 4 a several years ago. 2 were divisions from a friend, from the same plant. They have all performed differently, even though they were all planted in the same area, at the same time. The first year, I got almost nothing from any of them. I think they were sulking at having been moved. Took them a while to build up some strength. The second year, one bloomed, one sent up shoots but never bloomed, and still nothing from the other 2. Now, 3 years later, it looks like they are all sending shoots up, and they all might bloom. We shall see.

It just seems like peonies take some time to establish themselves again after being moved. I wouldn't worry about yours, just give them some time! If they don't bloom this year, I'm sure you'll see something next year. If they are alive, and not planted too deeply, there is no need to replace them :)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 12:13PM
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Give them some time. Peonies are not instant gratification plants. You herbaceous ones have to grow lots of thin white feeding roots to get established. If they are not rotten, they will grow for you.
As for the Tree Peony, it has to be planted deeply, so that the graft union is at least 4-6" below the ground level. It will thrive after new roots will grow on the part that is above the graft. If you planted it too shallow, it is still a good time to replant it. Again, do not expect instant results, be patient with it!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 12:20PM
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