Friday, August 28, 2015

2015 Southern Peony New How To Section

I've added a new "How To" for peonies section to the Southern Peony web site. You can find this new section using this link, Southern Peony How To, and also by clicking on "How To" on the navigation bar at the top of any page. This page should be helpful for people with questions on how to do all kinds of gardening to dos for peonies. This page includes gardening activities like cutting back a peony, deadheading peonies, dividing peonies, fertilizing peonies, planting peony seeds, and planting the three different types of peony plants as well. There are more How Tos coming in the future so keep an eye on this page for updates. Also if you have an idea or suggestion for another How To that I haven't yet covered, please Contact Me. :-)

Southern Peony How To Page

Monday, August 17, 2015

2015 Vintage American Peony Society Award Ribbons

Vintage American Peony Society Award Ribbons on Ebay

I am so excited about this! I found some vintage American Peony Society ribbons on Ebay. These ribbons are from Wisconsin. The seller of the APS ribbons said they bought them at an estate sale in Milwaukee about 20 years ago. According to the auction description, the ribbons are from the 1953, 1954, 1963, 1978, 1981, and 1982. When I reviewed the American Peony Society's Best in Show Awards, there are only two people that have won the Best in Show Ribbon that are from Milwaukee, WI - A.J. Volz and M.C. Karrels. A.J. Volz only won the APS Best in Show Award once in 1946. M.C. Karrels won the APS Best in Show Award in 1946, 1951, 1956, 1988, 1970, 1972, 1975, 1976, and 1983. In fact Marvin Karrels is the winningest exhibitor in the history of American Peony Society exhibits for the number of Best in Show Awards.

Vintage American Peony Society Award Ribbons

I am thinking these ribbons may have belonged to Marvin Karrels. None of the dates match any of his Best in Show Awards, but the range of years for these ribbons and his Best in Show Awards overlap the same time period of activity in the American Peony Society. Judging by the photos of the ribbons in the auction, none of them appear to be a Best in Show ribbon. So perhaps these were some of his other winning ribbons. I see in the auction photos that several of the ribbons are APS Court of Honor ribbons. After doing a Google search, it appears that Marvin Karrels died in 1994. So since these ribbons were purchased at an estate sale, that would make the timing of the estate sale after his death right around 20 years ago. If these ribbons did belong to him, that would be quite a coincidence since I happened to find his American Peony Society Medal on Etsy a couple of years ago. How exciting! I will have to take more detailed photos of the ribbons when they arrive. :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

2015 Rain on Peonies Relieves Drought

Well, we finally did get some rain for the peonies. We actually got almost an inch and half of rain. That rain gave the ground quite a good soaking. The extended drought we experienced definitely affected all of my peonies, some of them more than others. The peonies that were affected were young peony plants that are only 1-2 years old, peonies that are planted at the edge of a tree canopy, and smaller leaved peony varieties. It also affected some established intersectional peonies in full sun. Peonies that are near competing tree roots and young peonies that are not yet established were affected the most.

Southern Peonies in the Rain

Most of those herbaceous peonies near competing tree roots that wilted have come back up now. A couple of them were so bad off some of the foliage actually browned and did not revive. A couple of the young plants dried up entirely for the year. If these are still alive (hopefully) they will come back next spring. The established intersectional peonies actually wilted in a different way. Some of the intersectional peonies' foliage turned sideways, almost upside down. After the rain, most of the foliage has righted itself. Fall is fast approaching. So let's hope this is the only drought my peonies will have to endure this year!

Southern Intersectional Peonies in the Rain

Saturday, August 8, 2015

2015 New Popular Topics, Exhibiting and Tree Peonies

The current popular topics for last month has been updated. I *try* to update this section every month with the previous month's most popular topics. So if you're interested to see what other people are reading about, check it out. Also I have made the topics chart a little easier to read, and added two new topics - Exhibiting and Tree Peonies. This was the first year ever that I brought peonies to the 2015 American Peony Society Exhibition. I've also started growing a few Tree Peonies. Hopefully everyone will find this Popular Topics table helpful, and make it easier to find what you're looking for!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

2015 Dry Conditions Make Peony Foliage Wilt

Peony Wilted from Dry Spell

I think it has been about 3 weeks since we've gotten any measurable rain. Before this dry spell, it had been raining pretty regularly this summer, which was great. The continuous rain kept the grass green, and all of my flowers happy, including my peonies. However now that it's been weeks since it's rained, everything is looking sad - grass, trees, flowers, even the peonies. Peonies are usually pretty resistant to dry spells unless there is an extended dry spell like this one. I usually don't give any extra water to my peonies other than what nature provides. However when it gets this dry, I do try to water the wilted looking ones. There's a 90% chance of rain tonight. So I'm hoping some of that water hits my property! The peonies and all of the plants in my garden could use some relief!

Peony Wilted and Dying Back from Dry Spell

Monday, August 3, 2015

2015 How to Fertilize a Peony

There are two main times of the year to fertilize peonies, before your peonies bloom in early spring and after they have bloomed in the later summer / early fall. This is a good time to add a slow release organic fertilizer or composted cow manure around the drip line of your peony plants. Slow release, organic nutrients will be available throughout the season for your peonies. This includes the early spring when they are expending lots of energy to push up new shoots of foliage, and even into the fall when they are storing energy and nutrients to produce next year's foliage and blooms.

Peony Plant to be Fertilized

The first step in fertilizing your peony is to remove the layer of mulch covering your peonies. This layer of mulch is just another barrier between your peony and the nutrients you are trying to give it. If it is not possible or perhaps too time consuming, you can put the fertilizer on top of the mulch. However the peony will have easier access to fertilizer that is directly applied to its soil. Also less of the fertilizer is likely to get washed or blown away.

Peony Plant with Mulch Removed

Since peony plants only produce one set of foliage per year, you will want to make sure to keep it green and healthy. I don't recommend any quick release water soluble chemical fertilizers. These fertilizers will actually 'burn' the leaves of your peony plant and make them turn yellow. Avoid those types of fertilizers and look for something slow release, natural, or organic instead. Since peonies are not continuously producing new above ground growth throughout the season, they do not need a high nitrogen, quick release fertilizer.

Organic Slow Release Fertilizers are Best for Peonies

Some fertilizers that I like to use are Espoma Organic Plant-tone or EcoScraps Natural and Organic Rose & Flower Plant Food. Both of these fertilizers are slow release and organic. They can both be found at local super stores and hardware stores, or you can purchase them online. I also like to use Black Kow composted manure as a fertilizer for my peonies. If you have your own compost pile, then homemade compost is also a great fertilizer. When using compost, you will want to make sure that you use a very thin layer and don't bury your peony with the compost. Most of the time, I will use the bagged organic fertilizers for herbaceous peonies, and the compost for tree peonies since herbaceous peonies's are sensitive to planting depth.

You can use a garden scoop or measuring cup, whatever you're comfortable with to apply the fertilizer. I like to use a measuring up so I know exactly how much I am putting on each plant. Sprinkle the fertilizer lightly over the soil. Make sure to apply the fertilizer around the drip line of the peony's outer most leaves in a round circle like shape. Be careful not to dump the fertilizer directly on the peony's crown. It likely won't do as much good in this location since most of the storage roots are under the crown, and the feeder roots are generally around the outer edge of the foliage drip line. Optionally you can work the fertilizer into the soil a bit with your fingers or a small garden cultivator, taking care not to disturb the peony's roots. If you are short on time or you are worried about disturbing your peony, you can skip working the fertilizer into the soil.

Replace the Mulch Around Peony

After you have applied your fertilizer, the last thing to do is to replace the mulch around your peony. This will keep the fertilizer from washing away, and give nature a chance to incorporate the fertilizer into the soil during your next few rainstorms. If it has been particularly dry lately, you can also water in the fertilizer yourself with a garden hose or watering can. Now you're all done. This should give your peony a great start to the next growing season!