potting vs. planting

glassmouse(z5-Cent IL)November 1, 2005

I've read the advice that it's better to pot up your bare root peonies for a year or two if you're not sure where you ultimately want to place it in your garden, because digging up and transplanting a peony can cause you to lose a year or so. But wouldn't the act of planting a containerized peony be just the same as moving a planted peony, since they are both being moved? Are you less likely to "lose" a year due to stress when planting a potted peony vs. one dug up and moved?

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Mozart2(Zone 5 Michigan)


Having been born and bred on the tallgrass prairie of centrail Illinois for many decades, I wouldn't pay too much attention to "information" such as this. Given the often rapid variations of prairie weather, I would wisely choose their place in the garden, make certain that the soil was deeply and well prepared, and plant them.

If after a few years of settlement in their new home, you decide that they should be placed elsewhere, I would suggest that you deeply and well prepared their new homes sometime in the fall, then lift them out from their old homes and transplant them a little later in fall.

When I first began my explorations of old roses, I began to read almost any book on (the old) roses that I could get my hands on. The Peoria Public Library had some wonderful gems buried within their stacks. What they didn't have, I requested that the books to be inter-library loaned.

While these books gave "sage" advice from time to time, none of the authors had any experience with gardening on the tallgrass prairie. I came to suspect that some of them were little more than "armchair gardeners", authors who read other peoples books on a subject area and/or may have had a little experience in gardening, and who then spent a great deal of time re-writing, re-phrasing, etc. other people's efforts.

Since I was also interested in making the moist version of pot-pourri I began to read in that area as well. One of the worst books was entitled "The Scented Room" - very beautifully photographed with some interesting ideas.

Unfortunately, the author's "advice" on creating the moist version of pot-pourri was entirely worthless. Why? She never bothered to do her "homework".

In reading the first edition (1905) of William A. Poucher's book: "Perfumes, Cosmetics, and Soaps, I discovered (1) that traditionally there are two varieties of old roses that are specifically grown for their rose oil - one variety is grown or largely preferred by the French and the other variety is grown or largely preferred by the Bulgarians; (2) that roses petals from these two varieties are harvested in the early morning and placed in a semi to a shaded area and kept moist so that the rose oil would not evaporate; (3)that they were not havested after the "sun's rays dried off the dew" or poetic words to that effect; and (4)that, at that time, it was somewhat difficult to separate the rose oil from the moisture (water) in the rose petals and that often the harvested rose petals were put through two distillations in order to extract the greatest amount of rose oil, from which 'rose oil absolute' in made. Just for the heck of it, I did some research to found out what the then current (late 1970's to early 1980's) price of 'rose oil absolute' was per kilogram - about 2.2 pounds. The price was a little over $10,000 per kilogram. Expensive paste - this rose oil absolute.

And what did the author of The Scented Room suggest: (1) you harvest the rose petals after the sun has dried off the dew; (2) didn't provide any information as to what varieties were and/or have traditionally used in the making of either the dry or moist forms of rose pot-pourri and finally (3) suggested that if any moisture accumulates in the bottom of your rose petals container,you can either throw it down the drain or scent your bath.

With regard to the later point, I don't know of any worthwhile cook that would go to the bother a creatng a wonderful soup base from scratch and then throwing it down the drain and then re-filling the pot with water and then continue the process of making a homemade soup.

If I haven't already done so, I would again recommend the reading of John Madson's book: "Where the Sky Began: Land of the Tallgrass prairie" and pay particular attention to the chapter on "The Great Weathers."

I would also recommend the reading of the chapter entitled "Failures" in the superb book: Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden" - among other things it contains an excellent discussion on how to better "see" gardening wise - before planting or laying out or designing a new garden area.

If you're interested in exploring the world of old roses and other fragrant plants and to have some good basic guidelines on the making of either the dry or moist form of pot-pourri, I highly recommend the reading of "The Fragrant Year" by Helen van Pelt Wilson and Leonie Bell.

A final recommendation is, of course, the reading of "Peonies" by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall.

You are correct in noting the Peonies do not like to be disturbed, but given the often grand variations of weather in central Illinois, I, personally, wouldn't be tempted by such questionable "advice" of holding them over in pots for the winter.

Just remember that good gardening is similar to good parenting - patience, understanding, and good nourishment usually results in lasting enjoyment.

Hope this information is helpful.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2005 at 10:03PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Most often the bareroot peonies become available in the winter. I always pot them until the fall when I plant them in the ground. Keeping them over the next winter in the pot in my opinion tends to stunt the growth. If you find you need to move them in the next year or two it really is not a problem. Al

    Bookmark   November 3, 2005 at 10:15AM
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Calistoga, of course one must pay attention to "where" in what zone the peony has to survive in.
I think your California zone 9 is a bit different than a zone 5 Michigan and for this reason alone has certain limitations to how, where, when, what and by who....can put plants into the ground....sometimes very unfriendly ground.

Mouse, I think I have to agree with your summation..putting a peony into a container (large one to accommodate something to support them), then moving the plant will amount to the same thing as placing them in the garden, then moving to another place in the garden.

I have also heard it said by some gardeners that they purposely do not grow peony because they are so pernicketty.
But, once you have seen the bloom and imagine having more than one plant...I have 6....then its easy to put up with adversity.

Good luck in your choosing.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2005 at 12:48PM
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