pruning peonies

redloves2sing(z5 IL)August 25, 2005

Hello,

I'm new to the list and have been reading some posts about peonies. I have 4 of them in the yard of the house I just bought and have no idea what I'm doing with any of them...or any of the other stuff for that matter. I'd really like to learn, however! I was reading that if you have mildew/fungus on the plants they can be cut down in the fall. Is this something that should be done anyway? I'm trying to learn what needs to be cut down, what should be left, etc.

Thanks!

Alison

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azngrnthumbs

Hi Alison,

Welcome!

Can you tell us if the plants look like a twiggy shrub or a clump of many fleshy stems.

There are two basic types of peonies we all talk about here: "tree" peonies and herbaceous peonies. A tree peony is really a shrub that flowers in late spring/early summer and a herbaceous peony is a perennial plant that dies down each fall/winter and comes back the following spring.

A tree peony can be pruned, but it is often not recommended as you loose potential flowers. Only remove stems you know are dead and not doing anything (this can be tough to judge, however as perfectly viable stems can look dead. I just wait till they break off themselves).

Herbaceous peonies can be whacked down to the ground after they start looking messy and yellow. Dispose of the foliage in the trash and don't compost them as they might harbor fungal diseases. Even if they look clean, don't take the chance. hehe

Hope that helps you out a bit. Hopefully, next spring you'll be rewarded with blooms!

GOod luck,

Riz

    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 11:38PM
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DianeKaryl(z5ONT)

Redlove.......no garden should be allowed to just put up with powdery mildew, its a fungal problem usually caused from dampness and cool weather but born in sunny summer weather.

It is easily treated when you first spot it.
On store shelves there are many "fungicides" and you should make a point of always reading the label before using any of them.

An inexpensive solution can be made with 2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp vegetable oil in a quart (litre) of water.
Spray on the leaves.

If the mildew is covering the leaves deeply, you are encouraged to pick off those leaves and as cautioned above, don't compost them, put them into the garbage.
Mildew can be in the soil under the plant so treat that as well.

Often mildew can be avoided or lessened by opening them up to breezes and sunlight. Peony loves the sunlight.

Mildew hardly ever causes damage that would end up with the loss of the plant, but it should not be put up with.

Another control for powdery mildew is being researched by horticulturists employing MILK.

Put 1/2 tsp 2% milk in the above concoction and spray.
The 2% is preferred, it not having much fat content.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 5:21PM
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