Emergency Tree Peony Transplant Quandry

lipotagerSeptember 14, 2009


I've checked the previous postings and haven't quite found an answer- I know you knowledgable folks can give me some good advice.

In a now-or-never move, I dug up my grandfather's tree peony (variety unknown) in Wisconsin and transported it to New York in the bed of our truck, with a dry towel wrapped loosely around the roots and a garbage bag around the leaves to protect them from the wind. It was a two-day journey back, and we arrived home at midnight last night. In an attempt to make it slightly more comfortable after its journey, we quickly stuck it in a large pot with some organic potting soil and watered it (moderately) before we went to bed, with plans to put it in a permanent home this afternoon. Now I see that that potting it may have been a mistake.

This plant has huge sentimental value. Grandpa was so proud of his peony. I really want to save it, and I know nothing about peonies or about tranplanting, for that matter. Please help!

Here are my specific questions, and any extra advice would be appreciated:

1) Should I transplant it to a nice hole with compost this afternoon, or must I leave it in its pot to avoid shocking it again? It currently sits in only the soil it came with and potting soil.

2) If I transplant it, can I give it a spray with fish emulsion or seaweed emulsion?

3) In the process of moving it from its truck spot to the pot, a big chunk of the roots fell off. :-(( Can I plant the roots that detatched themselves?? Currently, they are laying open to air, on my porch.

4) What are these 'eyes' I see mentioned in the transplanting discussions? I also dug up some regular (not tree) peonies as well- do the eyes only occur on regular peonies?

Apologies for the long post, and really, any advice will be appreciated.

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Go ahead and plant your tree peony. Think of the pot in your case as a solid plastic bag used for carrying. Most of the posts concerning putting in pots concern plants that will be kept in the pot for awhile.

I would not fertilize when you plant wait until after the first freezes or my favorite time late December through early March. Fertilizing now could stimulate the buds on the plant to put out growth at this time of the year. Several people I know use afalfa pellets because they only release nutriants as they breakdown.

I would cut off the current leaves. When I cut the leaves off I leave the leaf stems on the plant as I have many deer and the crown of stems pricks their noses and they tend to leave them alone when I have the crown. The crown does not stop them from cutting the stems below so put a wire cage around the plant for at least this year.

Go ahead and plant the root section that fell off depending on the type you may have additional plants from them but not often. If any branches have been broken during the trip cut them off and place in moist soil somewhere shady. I have had deer broken stems grow.

As far as eyes you may find some on the tree peony but generally they develop later in the year. The stem of most tree peonies contain both root and stem forming cells. New stems will first appear as small buds, called eyes on regular peonies, then the buds will start to grow unfurling the stem then the leaves as it breaks surface.

On your regular peonies you should see pink and/or white nubs on the roots. These are what are called eyes. The color of the bud makes no difference in the color of the bloom. You probably will need a saw to divide the peonies. After dividing I like to allow the cut area to dry before planting. In my type of soil a moist cut can invite all kinds of bacteria and fungi into the root. You probably will see all kinds of white roots they are fine but if you see any old roots that look like a beads of a string cut those off and throw in the trash. These are caused by a nematode that causes roots to have thes knots. Most soils have this nematode but if yours is one of the rare soils that do not have any you don't want to become infected.

FYI look at tree peony to see if it can be cut apart to form two or more plants. Some of the older ones when the roots are washed off will divide themselves and you end up with several plants.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 3:44PM
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Wow, wow. Thank you! Am running out to plant it right now - no fertilizer!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 5:53PM
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