Wednesday, March 28, 2018

2018 The Wasp and The Ladybug (on the Peony)

The Wasp and The Ladybug

Today was the first 70 degree day we've had since February (when we oddly had an entire week of 70s). With all of this warm weather the peonies continued to grow, and all of the bugs decided to come out today as well. There were so many wasps on and flying around my peonies today, searching for and finding plenty of sweet nectar to eat off of my peony buds. They were doing the peonies no harm, and as long as they found no threat in me, did me no harm either. Wasps are definitely not my favorite flying insects, especially since I just got stung by one last year that was underneath my deck. However I'm sure they just get a bad rap, and are most likely needed, just like bees, to aid in pollination. So unless they are making nests on my front or back porch, I'm inclined to leave them be.

Peony Nectar, The Ladybug's Afternoon Snack

When I spotted this wasp trying to land on the same peony bud as this bright red ladybug, I couldn't resist taking some photos. "The Wasp and The Ladybug"... It sounds like some sort of fable, like I need to make up an entertaining story about these two. Well, the real story was that this ladybug had already found its afternoon snack, and the wasp came along and tried to take it from the ladybug. The wasp was quite persistent, but the ladybug maintained its ground, and eventually was the victor of this food battle. This bright red ladybug is just too cute. I don't remember if I've ever seen one on one of my peony buds before. Ladybugs are supposed to be good luck. Let's hope that means the peonies will be blooming well this year. With all the cold weather we've had this March (until today), you can probably imagine that I'm getting a little impatient waiting for the peony buds to start opening... Let's hope they bloom soon!

The Ladybug "Cleaning" the Peony Bud

Monday, March 26, 2018

2018 Well-Priced Peonies for Sale at Hardware Store - Lowe's

Herbaceous Peonies Offered For Sale at Lowe's

It's not exactly the best season to plant them, but if you need herbaceous peonies and you need them right now, then now might be a good time to stop into your local Lowe's Home Improvement store to grab some of these well-priced peonies. What especially caught my eye wasn't just the price, but also the selection. Yes, they have some of the well known and widely distributed standard varieties - Peony 'Dr. Alexander Fleming', Peony 'Felix Crousse', and Peony 'Sorbet', but they also have a coral peony for sale - Peony 'Coral Sunset'. This is the first time I've seen a coral peony offered as a bare root bagged and carded peony in a big box store. If you don't yet have a coral peony, this might be your opportunity to snag one for a great price!

Peony 'Coral Sunset' for $6.98 per Root!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

2018 Southern Peony Celebration Intersectional Peony ???

Southern Peony Gives Intersectional Peony '???'

To help us celebrate our recent milestone, 2018 Southern Peony Hits 250,000 Pageviews!!, we are giving an intersectional peony to one lucky reader. It is the one pictured in our celebration photo. Can anyone guess what interesectional peony it is? Here are a couple more photos as a hint in case you need it... This really is an awesome intersectional peony, and I'm really excited to share this peony with a Southern Peony fan. The first two photos here are taken in the sun, and the last one is taken in the shade, just as the bud started to open. So you can see what a beautiful color range this peony has (and what a difference sun vs. shade makes in photographs!). If you are interested in winning this intersectional peony, be sure to sign up for our email newsletter. The winner will be drawn at the end of this week, March 31, 2018, and the intersectional peony will be shipped bare root this fall.

Double Blooms on Intersectional Peony '???'

Southern Peony Reaches 250,000 Pageviews
Intersectional Peony '???'

Saturday, March 24, 2018

2018 How to Lift a Sunken Herbaceous Peony

Sunken Herbaceous Peony

So if you live in the South, and you grow peonies (or try to grow peonies), you probably know that a common problem is peonies not blooming. Why are they not blooming you ask? Most likely because they are planted too deep or do not get enough sun. If your problem is the former (planted too deep), we are going to fix that today! Sometimes even when you plant them at the correct level they sink or get buried over time. It could be that layers of mulch have gotten piled on over the years, creating a peony that is much too far below ground. It could be that there's something going on underground underneath where you peony is planted - animal holes, rotting plant material, or even fire ants! - that have caused the ground to sink underneath your peony. So how can you fix it, and get that peony blooming again?

Lift it up!

Rake Away Mulch from Sunken Peony

The first thing you want to do is to remove the mulch from around your sunken peony. If the problem is too much mulch, you may have quite a bit of mulch to remove. Pull the mulch out in a wide circle around the peony crown to give yourself enough room to dig around your peony without severing any roots (if possible). The bigger/more eyes your peony is, the further away you will need to dig/rake the mulch. After you have removed the majority of the mulch with your rake, use you hands to remove the smaller pieces near the crown, taking care not to damage any buds or small growth on your peony. You don't want to mix the mulch into your soil since the wood will remove nitrogen from the soil as it decomposes. Mulch on top is fine (nature's way), but mulch mixed into the soil is not good.

Use Your Hands to Remove
Remaining Mulch from Sunken Peony

Cut Into the Ground in a Wide Circle Around Sunken Peony

After all of the mulch is removed, you'll want to start digging. Remeber, the bigger/more eyes your peony has, the further away you will need to dig. Don't worry if you sever a storage root or two here or there, your peony should still live, but the less roots you sever the better! Make cuts in the soil with your shovel all around the peony in a wide circle. Once you have made enough cuts, you should be able to lift your peony up with your shovel. There is no need to move it or even remove it from the soil totally. You just need to lift it a little, just enough to get a bit of soil under and around it.

Use Shovel to Lift the Rootball of the Peony

Use Top Soil to Fill in Under and Around Lifted Peony

Once you have your peony rootball lifted a little, you'll want to add some soil under and around your peony. Now if you care enough about your peony to go to all the trouble of lifting it up to help it grow and bloom, put some decent soil under and around it. Don't just put some fill dirt from some other spot in your yard. At least go to the local hardware store and get a $1.50 bag of top soil. You can also get some organic compost as well if you want to spring for a little nicer soil, but plain, old top soil works fine too. Keeping the peony's rootball lifted as best you can pour a little top soil all around the crown of the peony. Use your hands to work a little of the soil underneath the peony and under the sides too. Fill it in all the way around. If your peony crown is mounded up slightly that's fine too, as it will likely settle lower again later. Plus peonies grown mounded up slightly will get better chill in the winter (needed for creating flowers).

Keep Peony Lifted with Shovel While You Add Top Soil Around and Underneath Lifted Peony

Tamp Down Top Soil Around Lifted Peony to Remove Air Pockets

Once you have your new soil pushed under and around the lifted peony's root ball as much as possible, tamp the soil down a bit with your hands or even your feet (lightly) to make sure there are no air pockets around your newly lifted peony. While you are working on your peony anyway, now would also be a good time to add a bit of organic fertilizer or slow release fertilizer around your peony rootball. Sprinkle the recommended amount of fertilizer (check your fertilizer bag for details) on top of the new soil and mix it in a little with your hands.

Sprinkle Some Organic/Slow Release Fertilizer Around Peony

After you've finished fertilizing your peony, replace the mulch lightly. If you had too much mulch on your peony in the first place, you will not want to put all of the mulch back on the peony, just put a portion of it back. Find a new home for that remaining mulch. When applying the mulch on your peony take care to not put too much mulch directly on the crown (growing eyes/buds) of the peony. Once your mulch has been replaced, give your peony a good drink of water to help it resettle into its new surroundings. Now just sit back relax and watch that peony grow. You've just treated it to a day a the spa!

Replace Mulch Around Lifted Peony

Friday, March 23, 2018

2018 Tulip World Offers Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' for $12.95!

Okay, I know this is probably bait, but I already ate a bite. So let's hope not. I have been looking for Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' ever since Don Smith told me about it when I did the interview with him in 2016 Peony Hybridizer Interview - Don R. Smith. (If you haven't seen this interview yet, you really need to check it out - and the picture of 'Scrumdidleyumptious'!) Anyway this gorgeous intersectional peony has so many petals in a lovely, pale peachy color and is supposedly highly fragrant. What more could you ask for?

Tulip World Offers Intersectional
Peony 'Scrumdiddlyumptious' for $12.95!

I have seen this Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' for sale by other more reputable growers, but I can never seem to get an order in for it before it sells out (way too quick!). So for $12.95, I'm figuring these are probably tissue cultured plants (read clones), but I don't mind as long as I get the real thing. Whether I actually get the real thing (a correctly labeled, intersectional peony) remains to be seen... For $12.95 + $6 shipping, it almost seems like a fun game to see what I'll get. The bad part is, it will probably take years before I know...

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

2018 Klehms Song Sparrow Offers Tree Peony 'Lavender Grace' on Front Page of Web Site

Song Sparrow Offers Tree Peony 'Lavender Grace'

So it has been a couple weeks - since it's not on their front page right now, but in case you missed it, I saved a screen shot of it for you... (and me). Klehm's Song Sparrow offered Tree Peony 'Lavender Grace' on the front page of their web site. And I've been thinking and thinking and thinking about it! So it wasn't an impulse purchase, but I finally caved in and purchased Tree Peony 'Lavender Grace'. Puprle/lavender is my favorite color, and the front cover on their web site really got me. The lavender gray fern, the dark purple heucheras, and that peony, that lavender tree peony... I just couldn't resist. Also this one appears to be hybridized by Roy G. Klehm and registered in 1998. It's APS registration says it has pollen, but the fertility is not noted. It would be nice if works for hybridizing.

Song Sparrow Offers Tree Peony 'Ezra Pound'
Advertises Open House and Pick-Up Days

If you are looking to add a few more peonies for the spring bloom season, Song Sparrow ships their tree peonies and intersectional peonies as potted plants in the spring! That's right - you don't have to wait until fall to get a bare root. Yes, their shipping fees are higher, but you get a growing plant in dirt that's going to be at least a year ahead (or more) than any bare root peony you will plant this fall. That's like buying yourself a year's time! Also if live anywhere near driving distance, their website front page now says that their "Open House and Pick-Up Days" are coming up in May. So you can save yourself the shipping fee if you live nearby...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

2018 Peonies and Digging Dogs Do Not Mix!

Herbaceous Peony 'First Lady' Dug Up and Severed

I had just moved a couple herbaceous peonies that were not getting enough sun into a bed with much more sun. The next day this is what I find! Terrible! This newly replanted peony root had been dug up, flung from its planting hole, with several of the large storage roots severed, and one pink eye severed as well. I did manage to get what was left of this peony replanted again, dispose of the severed storage roots, and replace the mulch on it. Then I gave it a good watering. I don't think this peony will be able to bloom this year. If somehow it does, I will let you know.

Peony 'First Lady' Replanted
(and Trying to Regain Her Dignity)

This is just no way to treat a 'First Lady'! We do have leash laws here, but unfortunately many people let their dogs loose to do as they please and destroy other's property. Very unfortunate. I hope this peony will come back, but it may take a couple extra years now. This seems to be just yet another loss after several other disappointing losses this year. The stems on several of my tree and intersectional peonies have been broken by some wildlife as well, it seems. How do you protect your peonies from animals and wildlife?

Broken Stem on
Intersectional Peony 'Smith Family Yellow'

Broken Stem on
Tree Peony 'Li Yuan Chun' 李园春

Broken Stem (with Bud!) on
Tree Peony 'White Phoenix' 鳳丹白 (Feng Dan Bai)

Monday, March 19, 2018

2018 Southern Peony Hits 250,000 Pageviews!!

Wow! Southern Peony has just hit two hundred and fifty thousand pageviews, thats 250,000, that's a quarter of a million!!! Thanks to all of you - we've made it this far. I appreciate all of the likes and shares on social media. We've also reached over 250 likes/followers on Facebook. :-) I also enjoy reading and responding to the comments you leave here. It's also great when you tell your friends about us and help us share the peony wealth! That is the goal - to spread the love of peonies far and wide. To that end we are hosting another giveaway, just like our last one, 2015 Southern Peony Giveaway - Itoh Peony 'Bartzella', except this time, we are giving away a different Intersectional Peony...

Southern Peony Reaches 250,000 Pageviews

Intersectional peonies really do grow so well here in the South. I recently heard from our last winner, and she said her Peony 'Bartzella' plant is doing well and developing buds again this year. How exciting! The winner of this year's peony will be drawn from our email subscriber list on March 31, 2018, and the peony root will be shipped this fall. So if you'd like to join us, please do. We just got a new email format too, 2018 Southern Peony Gets New Email Format. The name of the intersectional peony will be announced later this month. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

2018 Peony New Growth Foliage Colors

I've been wanting to do a survey like this for a long time. Foliage Color has been an item on my Surveys page for years, with no activity under it. Finally, I am able to starting recording something here. I've always thought it was neat how the new foliage of herbaceous peonies varied so much. I don't really see this kind of variation in the new foliage of intersectional peonies or tree peonies. So this article will focus mostly on herbaceous peonies. If you've not yet noticed the beautiful color variations in the new peony foliage, I'm about to open your eyes. Growing peonies to see the blooms is only part of the fun. Watching their new stems unfurl each spring, with bright neon green, scarlet red, or a lavender-tinted pink new foliage is just so exciting.

Herbaceous Peonies New Foliage Colors

Below you will find a sampling of some of the new peony foliage colors in my garden. The deep foliage colors of the chocolate peonies is so titillating. The bright neon green of the golden herbaceous peonies is so surprising. The red stems of the coral peonies seems so fitting. The lavender-pink foliage of the lavender peonies is so sweet. If you don't have peonies with a range of new spring foliage colors, now might be the time to start thinking about which peonies you'll add to your garden this fall to excite and entertain you next spring.
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Horizon'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Golden Wheel'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Lavender'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Roselette's Baby'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Many Happy Returns'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Perfect Princess'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Grace Root'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Flame'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Rose Garland'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Lustrous'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Paula Fay'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Great Lady'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Paladin'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Coral Charm'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Coral Fay'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Do Tell'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Martha W.'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Dark Chocolate'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Gay Paree'
New Foliage Colors
Peony 'Lake o' Silver'
New Foliage Colors
Tree Peony 'Fuchsia Ruffles'