Peonies are bad plants.

Maryl zone 7aMay 18, 2005

Although I have quite a diverse garden, I've never tried a Peony before and know little about them. I like the foliage, and found a Peony suited for our climate (Kansas). I thought a Peony might fill the bill as a low maintanence plant (compared to the roses I grow at least). After I planted my Peony I visited a friend and commented on her peonies (which I had never noticed before). She told me they were not hers, but her D.H.'s and that they were bad plants. My heart sank. These are the reasons she gave. Can you tell me if they are true?

1. The foliage on Peonies looks horrible by August;all brown and icky. You must leave it (like daffodils) until October. SIDEBAR: If so, will a peony live in a container? I could at least move that out of sight.

2. They need to be staked. All Peony flowers flop to the ground. Kansas will too.

3. They are as disease prone as roses. They must be sprayed (Fungunex?)

4. They attract ants to your house.

I guess my question would also be, if all this is true, why do people love their peonies so much? Your help will really be appreciated.

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1. Foilage can get brown and ucky if UNWATERED in hot August weather. Spray a little with a fungicide starting in June and prevent it from happening.

2. Some DO need to be staked. They make peony rings for that.. at Lowes for about 1.99. Put them on the first part of growing, they grow up in between it and it supports it.

3. Thats the BROWN UCKY thing your lazy neighbor was talking about.. see answer for no. 1.

4. Never had ants on mine. The necktar supposedly attracts ants, its mother nature. Put some pesticide around the base of it.. problem solved.

Lets see... Install peony ring in March, (3 minutes) Spray fungicide in June (2 minutes) throw down some pesticide at the base, (1 minute).
6 Minutes worth of work, (if you want to call it that) for a harvest of blooms in the spring that scent up a room. ? Is it worth it to you?

I'm sorry, I really love peonies and it kinda irks me to hear someone whine about a few minutes worth of upkeep. Thats Peony Blasphemy to me! LOL!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 1:48PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

1. Mow them down in July. Trust me, works fine.

2. Get a tree peony. A good upright japanese tree peony never needs staking.

3. Sprayed? Never. But then I never spray roses either :)

4. See 2. Tree peonies don't attract ants.

You missed number 5. Peony flowers last for two weeks if you're lucky. And the answer to "why" is: ten inch flowers that smell heavenly!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 2:03PM
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Hi Maryl, I have never had to spray my peonies for either fungis or ants. Mine do get ants before bloom but after they bloom no more ants. And its not hard to buy a peony stake and install in the Spring. Really, they are BEAUTIFUL and worth the minimal effort for flowers.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 5:27PM
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Not all peonies have yucky looking foilage. If you practice good fall clean-up and give your peonies enough room for air circulation you shouldn't have too many problems with them. Staking and or caging double peonies is a good idea so that they don't flop. There are a lot of newer hybreds that have sturdier stems and resist flopping much better. Peonies are very hardy long lived plants. Some peonies have been in the same spot for over 50 years and more. They are wonderful plants with wonderful scents. I've never had a problem with ants because of peonies. The thing with peonies is that either you love them or you don't. I happen to love them. Don't be pursuaded that they are bad plants by somebody who doesn't appreciate their beauty.

IA Z5a

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 11:46PM
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Peony need even less maintanance than Knockout rose.
If you grow roses then you know what I meant.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 11:47PM
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getyourleash(z7 Mid-Atl USA)

Frankly, the vast majority of my peonies have THRIVED on neglect. So, I have no clue what you are talking about. In the fall, rush off to your nearest high quality nursery and get yourself either a 'Karl Rosenfeld' or 'Sarah Bernhardt' peony and you will be hooked! The smell, the effortless beauty and the fact that you can mow them down as a previous poster said is absolutely true.

Here is a link that might be useful: Basic Peony Knowledge - Or Getting Started!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 12:38AM
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Nancy zone 6

I like my peonies too, by the time the foliage gets bad-and it doesnt every year-I cut it back & doesn't seem to hurt. I'm kind of confused about attracting ants to the house-do y'all not have ants there? I don't know anyone here that doesn't have ants, its actually a good thing because they help aerate the soil. I don't mind the ants as long as they stay outside, so I think if anything, peonies would help keep them outside. Now if you are talking about fire ants, as far as I know, peonies don't attract them. My only complaint about peonies is they don't bloom all summer, but when they do, WOW!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 9:53AM
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jazzmom516(Zone 7 LI, NY)

'Kansas' peony is unfortunately an UNFRAGRANT peony. Despite its watermelon red color it does look attractive in a vase. I really love the scent of the white peony 'Moon Over Barrington'.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 4:22PM
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vignewood(z6 CT)

Peonies are my favorite plant. I think the foliage is beautiful. If even use the leaves in flower arrangements during the summer as "fill". They need to be staked because the flowers are so large and beautiful. I have never sprayed mine either. I have never had the leaves turn brown. I guess beauty is in the eye of be peony lover. vignewood

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 9:05PM
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Maryl zone 7a

You all have given my new peony a reprieve for this year at least. Yes, Ego45, I know what you mean about Knockout, and no matter how disease free it's touted to be it still has thorns, a definite plus for a Peony in this particular spot. Thanks for the information about Kansas. I may just have to stick a rose in with it to make a "fragrant" bouquet.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 4:52PM
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Peonies are just great plants!!!! Compared to roses - they are almost problem free. I just love them and have replaced some of my rose bushes (that have died for one reason or the other),with peonies because they are so easy to grow and low maintenance. Mine do get ants once the buds come out but I look on the black ants as my assistants (the good guys) as I am sure they keep all the bad insects off the peonies and the rest of my plants surrounding them.

My only lament is that they don't bloom all summer - however I am sure that plant nurseries and serious plant propagaters will come up with one that blooms as I wish, soon or later...I hope :=)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 12:18PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Scamp - if you get early, mid, and late-bloomers, you can have a good long season of spring blooms!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 2:12PM
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SherrBabe(Ohio Zone 6)

If you want another example of how hardy peonies are - I pulled out an invasive bush last year and this year a small peony bush popped up in the empty spot! It was a wonderful surprise - I guess the peony bulb was hiding under the other bush all this time and was finally able to sprout and grow.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 3:14PM
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LAA668984(z4/5 ny)

I can't imagine an easier plant than peonies. If planted correctly, they bloom for years without dividing or feritilzing. They definitely are less work than roses, to me. They do get ants sometimes, but the above post mentioned sprinkling inscticide around them to correct that. I just let the ants alone, since I try to avoid any pesticides and other products of that nature as much as possible. The ants don't hurt them. I do shake the flowers out before I bring them inside though. Fungus is occasionally a problem in rainy, humid weather. But its not a big deal, you can spray them if it gets too bad. I've never had to spray mine, they occasionally get a little fungus, but not enough to be a major problem. I find peonies the perfect plant for a lazy gardener like me.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 10:25AM
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robbiezone5(z5 HudsonValley)

i thought the ants were needed by the peonies. some sort of symbiotic relationship? i just found this on the ol' google search:

we've never had a problem with ants in our house. i suspect your neighbor might have an ant problem with/without peonies.

we inherited our peonies -- they came with the house. and i'm glad they did. they are great cut flowers to be placed around the house. our's are _very_ fragrant. i highly recommend getting peonies that are fragrant. you'll be glad you did.

we also do not use any pesticides in our garden. and we've never had any problems with the peonies.

good luck!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 12:42PM
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I'm a complete and total newbie to this plant and this zone, and I'm only normally here to read and learn.

But after a year in this place, my roses that I adore are a complete and utter constant PITA and the peonies planted here by the owner take no work at all. ZERO.

I'm so new that I didn't even know for sure that they were peonies at first! LOL Wish that I had, would have staked the puppies before they got bushy.

The blooms are gorgeous. I flung some alfalfa under them, becuase that is what I do for everything. They get watered by the lawn sprinkler. I cut them and put some in my home after they bloomed.Fabulous! (First time in my life because you can't do peonies where I came from. Peonies there are pictures in magazines.)

No bugs, no disease. The Japanese Beetles left the foilage alone.

If this is work, I've got some roses to introduce you to! Roses in this burg are enough to make you want to rip your hair out. Blackspot, JBs, canker, powdery mildew, stunted/shattered/washed out blooms. Blahblahblah.

I want to plant some this fall, but haven't figured out what and where yet. I'm sure that I could still screw this up, but I figure that any work beyond merely admiring them is not that tough.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 3:04PM
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Where in Missouri are you at.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 4:18PM
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Maryl zone 7a

Later on in the early summer I asked a man who had a beautiful stand of established Peonies if they were as ugly in August as reported. No he replied, but they must be sprayed because they get some sort of foliar disease. I then asked another person about the foliage in late summer, and he said he never sprayed, but that people forget to water them enough. So here it is in my garden in mid-August. What has my peony done? Well the leaves are starting to deteriorate somewhat. However this has been a terribly droughty year with triple digit heat and, although I try to keep up with the watering, it's almost impossible with no help from mother nature. As for spraying, I have roses around the peony so I'm sure it's been hit with fungicide drift when I do my regular spray routine. My conclusion is that it's not really fair for me to judge them during a year such as this, so the jury is still out for me.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 4:36PM
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West County of Saint Louis...

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 8:20PM
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Btw, just to be clear (after rereading my post), that this fall I want to plant more peonies, not roses.

(Saving more roses for the spring...)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 8:22PM
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I have around 50 peonies. They are one of my favorites plants. Yes, sometimes the leaves get ugly, but not on all varieties, but some. I cut down the leaves in the Fall - just remember to clean the pruner so you don't spread any diseases from one plant to the next. I have a no spray garden for the most part, and I have never sprayed my peonies. They are low maintenance and are so rewarding, I can never have enough of them!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 11:22PM
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I love peonies. That is a must for me.
I came from Russia... Lilac and peonies- that what all our grandma have had. It's remind me my childhood.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 2:14PM
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Oksanakazan, what were the peonies from Russia like? Is there any place that you know of that they could be ordered from.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 10:47PM
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I murdered a 60 year old yew two years ago- and found a peony buried inside it. it couldn't have been touched for at least a decade, the owner's kid hadn't seen it in closer to 25 years...

she's stunning looking, and I take three or five flowers to my mom every spring (her property gets no sun at all, so I import flowers for her)

there was also a dead rose crown hidden in there-

that pretty much tells me which is the tougher plant.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2005 at 2:01PM
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Fori is not pleased

Hi...just my thoughts as being relatively new to the peony world (and here). All the BAD features are minor, as stated above. And the ant bit is just wrong. If you have ants already, they'll visit the buds. They will NOT come to your yard just because you have peonies.

Ants visit other plants with alot of nectar but they don't show up as much as they do on giant smooth peony buds.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 10:50AM
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laurelin(z5a/4b Upstate NY)

I would never call peonies bad plants - their good points FAR outweigh their small maintenance needs. It's all a matter of perspective - and there is no such thing as a "no-maintenance garden." To garden is to maintain, to cherish, to nurture, to tweak, to groom, to obsess, to agonize, to exult, to celebrate. Good things are worth good effort.

I have roses and peonies, and the peonies require much less maintenance IMO. That said, I do NOT pamper my roses; if they can't fend for themselves with minimal help, I don't want them, so I've not invested that much labor in them. I've had some roses thrive on neglect ('Betty Prior,' 'Roseraie de l'Hay,' and 'Othello'), and others which turned up their toes within a year. ALL of my peonies have thrived so far (except for the new 'Paula Fay' I accidentally chopped last fall while planting something else - AAAARRRGHHHH! WAAAAAAAH!). I've planted many more peonies in the past year - I can hardly wait for them to mature and bloom in a year or two. There is NOTHING like a vase full of peonies. (I also love heirloom irises and daylilies, and my loves are starting to seriously compete for space. . . . So many flowers, so little yard.)


    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 3:59PM
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