Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2012 How to Plant an Herbaceous Peony

Dig Hole for Herbaceous Peony

Herbaceous Peonies should be planted similar to Intersectional Peonies, taking care to make sure the root is facing the proper direction. This is very important for intersectional peonies as well and even more so with tree peonies. The first step and perhaps the most important step in planting a peony is preparing the soil. I usually dig at least a 3 foot round hole for each root, spading the soil with my shovel to make sure the dirt is nice and loose. After the hole is dug and the soil has been loosened, I add some organic fertilizer and lime (dolomitic limestone) to the soil in the hole and mix it in. The fertilizer is used to add nutrients to the soil and the lime is used to adjust the PH of the soil. In my area, most soils are acidic, and peonies prefer a more neutral to very slightly acidic soil, around a PH of 6.0 to 7.0.

Put Herbaceous Peony Root in Planting Hole

Next take a look at the peony root and make a smaller hole in the middle of your 3 foot round hole that will accommodate the size of the peony root. Herbaceous peonies stems die back to the ground each year. So there is not woody or semi-woody stem on the root. The herbaceous peony roots are usually a large storage root with perhaps smaller side roots and pink buds on the crown. The pink buds are where the new shoots and foliage will begin to emerge. Make sure to put the roots into the soil and try to put the buds pointing up towards the sky. In my southern climate the pink buds of the crown can be planted even with the soil, so that the roots are below the soil and the pink buds are slightly above, even, or just barely under the soil.

Cover Herbaceous Peony Root with Soil

Once the peony root has been planted, I cover the planting hole with a 1-2 inch layer of mulch, taking care to put only a small 1/2 inch layer of much over the crown itself. I may even leave it so the pink buds are barely visible or just below the mulch. You don't want to put too much mulch on herbaceous peonies in this climate. Otherwise the roots may not get enough chilling hours needed for blooming. They do however need enough mulch to retain moisture (It does get really hot here!) and prevent weed growth. After the peony has been mulched, I water the newly planted peony root. You can water your root before or after you mulch it. I just like to water mine afterwards because it seems like the soils stays in place a little better with the mulch already on top.

Mulch Herbaceous Peony

Thursday, October 25, 2012

2012 APS Convention Peony Auction Plants

I got a lot of fall planting done yesterday. I'm not finished yet, but I got a lot accomplished. One thing I finished planting were the peonies I won at the 2012 American Peony Society convention auction. This was the first time I bid on anything at the auction, and I was really happy with what I received. I won three peonies at the auction this year, and each of them was from a different donor. I won Peony 'Halcyon' from Adelman Peony Nursery, Peony 'Top Brass' from A-1 Nursery, and Peony 'White Cap' from Scott Parkerson. It was so nice of all of the companies and individuals to donate their time, peony roots, and shipping fees to raise money for the American Peony Society. It was also nice to be a part of the process and actually bid on the peonies. I got some nice varieties that I wanted for my garden and got to help the APS at the same time. If you're interested in donating peonies for next year's convention and/or are interested in attending next year's convention so you too can participate in the auction (and lots more), please contact the American Peony Society. I hope to see you there! :)

APS Convention Auction Plant, Peony 'Halcyon'

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 Brother P-Touch Peony Outdoor Plant Labels

I am working on making some plant labels for my garden today. Brother is a great company for label makers. I used to use the Brother P-Touch label makers that were handheld. The first one I purchased required batteries. The second one I purchased you could plug in, which really saved a lot in batteries. Now I have the Brother P-Touch that you can connect to your computer. This allows you more flexibility in what you want to put on the labels, the fonts you can use, the layout, etc. I always use the 1" Extra Strength Adhesive Tape for outdoor applications. I have been using this for years now, and it does not peel off or fade. I would highly recommend it if you're looking for labels for your garden that will last and last!

Brother P-Touch Label Editor Software

Brother P-Touch PC-Connectable Label Maker

Sunday, October 21, 2012

2012 Fall Peony Sales

I got an email this weekend about a peony sale at one of my favorite peony vendors, Khlem's Song Sparrow. Not only is now a great time to plant peonies, but it is also a great time for peony sales. If you're not on the email list of your favorite peony vendors, you should go ahead and sign up so that you'll get all the latest information on their products and special sales. The current sale they're having is for Herbaceous Peonies - 3 for the price of 2! I already have 3 boxes of peonies waiting for me to plant, but I'm still tempted to order more (and I probably will) since this is such a great deal. The deal is good from now until November 15, 2012. So you've got some time to check it out, but shop early for the best selection! Also you can check the websites of other peony vendors this time of year. Sometimes they will post sales or specials to their web sites as well. You may be able to pick up a peony you've been wanting a bit cheaper or try out a different peony that wasn't on your list. Either way, happy peony shopping! :)

Khlem's Song Sparrow Fall 2012 Sale

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 Questions - Itoh Peony Planting Depth

Itoh Peony 'Barztella'
I received this question from Karen in Zone 6:
"How deep do you plant your Itoh peonies?"

Itoh Peonies are intersectional peonies. Toichi Itoh is credited with being the first hybridizer to successfully cross a tree peony with an herbaceous peony, resulting in an intersectional peony. Since these peonies are a cross between tree peonies with woody stems and herbaceous peonies with herbaceous stems, the stems of intersectional peonies are semi-woody. These stems can be left on the plant and cut back to the lowest bud or be cut off completely. This picture is of intersectional Peony 'Bartzella' whose stems were cut back to above the lowest bud. I have drawn a line on the picture to show the proper planting depth for this type of peony. The stems (above the red line) face up towards the sun, and the roots (below the red line) should be planted below ground. So the proper planting depth for intersectional (Itoh) peonies is right at this joint between the stems and the root. If your intersectional peony does not have any above ground stems, then I would recommend planting the roots below the soil with the eyes or buds facing up towards the sun. The eyes or buds should be even with the soil level or just below the surface of the soil.