Transplanting hollyhocks, phlox and peonies

sapphirecat(z5 IL)July 29, 2005

When we moved to our current house five years ago, we gained beautiful peony beds in four different locations. One was a single plant all alone behind the house, and I moved it to another location successfully (not bad for a gardening newbie). It looks like I will need to be moving peonies from another location though, and I'm nervous about it.

The previous owners planted a triangular perennial bed in one corner of the front yard. It contains old-fashioned single-bloom hollyhocks, phlox (the tall kind?), and hardy geraniums. There are peony bushes on the corners. The colors are all beautiful together -- all pinks, purples and burgundys.

The problem is, most of these plants are very tall, and I personally would prefer that they were in the backyard, rather than hiding the house. To make matters worse, the hollyhocks are not healthy (something's eating them), and a stubborn mulberry bush has decided to make itself at home in the very center of the bed, despite my best efforts to kill it.

My husband is ready to bulldoze the whole thing and start over from scratch. That horrifies me -- I love the perennials that are SUPPOSED to be growing; I'd just prefer them to be somewhere else! We've had hollyhocks volunteering in the back yard, near where I've been putting the cuttings; they're replanting themselves. And it would be easy to gather more seeds and plant them in specific places. But I don't know what to do about the phlox, geraniums and peonies.

In all actuality, I'd leave the geraniums and peonies if possible, but I'd like to move the phlox back with the hollyhocks. And it may be difficult to get that stubborn mulberry monster out without getting a backhoe -- which doesn't bode well for protecting any other plants in the bed. Not to mention the difficulty of getting ALL the hollyhocks out of there. It seems like their roots are aiming for China! And unfortunately they make me itch, every time I try to work with them. :-(

The mulberry has crowded everything else, so that the hollyhocks only made a half-hearted perimeter this year, and the phlox is bravely trying to hang on, but the bed looks awful. To make matters even more difficult, we've been having a drought. The mulberry seems to be weathering it well, at the expense of everything else! Why can't flowers be that tough?

I love these old-fashioned flowers, and would appreciate suggestions on what to do to salvage them. I wouldn't mind replacing the Monster with a nice butterfly bush, or something like that, if I could manage to not disturb everything else in the process. (If nothing else, though, the hollyhocks HAVE to be moved.)

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saypoint(6b CT)

Let some of the hollyhock seeds ripen and plant them for insurance. Dig up and move the others. They're pretty tough. Try to get as much of the root as you can, and water them after replanting. They'll wilt, but will likely recover. Phlox, geranium, peony, can all be moved.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 9:41PM
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