Peonies dying shortly after growing

Kristen HallockMay 12, 2010

I've got 2 peony plants that I originally planted in October 2008. They both came up in 2009, but shortly after first emerging from the ground, one began wilting and then was completely wilted within a matter of a week or so. This plant never got very big. Maybe 4" tall.

The other plant grew well at first, but a month later the very top bud on the plant dried up and wilted also, but the rest of the plant was green and growing still. So no flower here.

I ended up emailing some peony experts last summer and one suggested that I wait till fall and then dig up the roots and add compost to the soil. He thought that perhaps my peonies were not getting the nutrients that they needed. They are planted in a flower bed by the street, near my mailbox. The soil was completely sandy.

So last fall (Nov 2009) I did this. I added a large bag of good compost to the hole for each peony root, and then I replanted the peonies and hoped for the best.

This year they started growing again! I was thrilled. Except the one by the road is now wilting again. And again it only grew 3-4" before wilting, whereas the other plant, which is about 3' away, has about 4 shoots and is about 18" tall. I cut off the wilted areas and threw them away. I also watered both plants yesterday.

I live in Northern VT, right near Burlington, on Lake Champlain. We do have frosts in the spring, but I havent covered my plants because I figured that if they grow in April, then they must know what they are doing and be able to withstand some colder temps. Should I be covering them? I also have not really watered them. Except for yesterday. I sort of figured that the ground is decently wet, it is spring after all.

Does anyone have suggestions for me? I would love to see these things flower! I am going to start watering regularly, just in case that is the problem. The soil is mostly sand. pretty much all actually, except I did add a good amount of compost.

I'd appreciate any feedback.

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What if anything does your highway department use to remove ice and snow from the street? The plant may be effected by the chemicals they spread or any weed and feed product you or your neighbors use that could wash on this particular plant.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 7:33PM
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Kristen Hallock

maifleur - I live on a small residential side street. We do have plowing and they do salt the road in the winter when it snows. Perhaps this fall I will try moving the plants to another location away from the road.

We also do have a lawn service that comes. They do spread weed killer on the lawn, but its a good 4-5 feet away from where these peonies are. Is that still close enough to be affected by whatever they are putting on the lawn?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 9:00AM
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