What is Peonies?
Perennial peony (Paeonia) is a hardy and unpretentious herb that can grow in one place for decades. Every spring, he expels red shoots from the ground, which very quickly turn into a luxurious bush with a height of 50 to 120 cm. The leaves are large, carved, with a dense glossy texture.
Depending on the variety, the flowers can be simple, semi-double, double, 7–20 cm in diameter, with a delicate aroma. The color scheme is dominated by shades of white, pink, and red. Not so long ago, yellow peonies appeared, over the creation of which breeders fought for many years.
|Plant Type||Peony (Paeoniaceae)|
|Flower Color||white, pink, red, cream or yellow, sometimes with dark spots at the base|
|Hardiness Zones||frost resistance zones 3–8|
|Native Area||subtropics and temperate regions Eurasia and North America|
|Toxicity||highly toxic and can cause serious poisoning|
The main groups of peonies
Conventionally, all representatives of the Paeonia family can be divided into three groups:
- Herbaceous perennial peonies. This is the most numerous category with about 40 species. Such flowers most often grow in our gardens and are represented by more than five thousand varieties and hybrids.
- Tree peony. Shrub 120–150 cm high, blooming in April-May with semi-double silky flowers of pastel shades. They reach 15 cm in diameter and look very sophisticated.
- Interspecific Ito-hybrids. Plants obtained from crossing the herbaceous peony and the tree-like. They retained the botany of the first and inherited the shape and color of the flowers of the second, including yellow and orange tones.
The best varieties of peonies: selection criteria
The main thing that people pay attention to when choosing varieties of peonies is how to cut peonies and of as common the shape and color scheme.
However, it is worth asking about the strength of the peduncles. Give preference to thick and strong stems – they will not fall apart under the weight of the inflorescences and will not put them “face down in the mud” during the rain.
If you want to admire the beauty of peonies for 3-4 weeks, the collection should contain plants with early, middle, and late flowering periods.
Here are some of the more popular varieties.
Peonies are easy-care garden plants
They are watered infrequently, but abundantly – 2-3 buckets under an adult bush with an interval of 10-15 days. Watering is mandatory in May – during the period of rough vegetation and preparation for flowering, and in August-September, when there is active growth of roots and the laying of buds of renewal.
If the soil was well filled during planting, the peonies need not be fed for the first 2-3 years. Further, fertilizers are applied in the spring (before the beginning of the growing season) and in the summer (during the budding period). You can use any complex fertilizers for flowering plants.
Tall bushes with large and heavy double flowers most often need support, so remember how to prune peonies. 3-4 pegs are placed around the bush and tied around the perimeter with strong twine.
The wilted flower heads are removed, but 2-3 pairs of leaves should be left on the peduncle.
The foliage is completely cut off only in the fall when it turns yellow and withers. After pruning, the root zone is mulched with humus or compost. This is good protection against freezing and additional nutrition for the plant for a quick start in the spring.
When to prune peonies?
In early spring, on a tree-like peony, you need to carry out anti-aging pruning, when the shoots are shortened to a growth bud. In late spring, if necessary, peony fall pruning of the shoots frozen over the winter is carried out.
When pruning peonies after blooming, remove unnecessary stems, try not to destroy the crown shape too much. Remove stems that are infested with diseases or insects as soon as you discover the problem. You also need to remove branches that may have suffered after wintering.
The best place to cut an unwanted peony stem is just above a healthy bud. If a significant portion of the branch is damaged, trim it back to a healthy area.
Do you cut back peonies in the fall? Peonies are able to tolerate pruning well and quickly overgrow with new shoots. When pruning, it is important to remember that these peonies bloom on the shoots of the last season. In order to obtain larger flowers, we advise you to remove a third of all formed buds during spring pruning.
Location and soil
If you want peonies to bloom profusely and for a long time, decide when to cut down peonies, choose a sunny, well-ventilated place for them. Flower beds with eastern, southern, and western exposure are suitable. Openwork partial shade will not interfere with plants, especially in regions with hot summers.
They prefer fertile soil, a loamy type, well retaining moisture.
If winterize peonies do not like crowding. There must be a distance of at least one meter between the bushes, as well as between them and other plants.
The preferred time for planting pruning peony bushes in autumn. If you have purchased a well-developed seedling in a container, you can plant it at any time, as long as the soil is not frozen and not too hot. But if it is a rhizome with several buds, it is better not to plant it in the ground in the spring. Germinate first in a pot and dig right into the container in the garden, and plant in August.
It is recommended when to trim peonies and how to prepare a planting hole for peonies in advance so that the soil is compacted and the rhizome does not go deep. It is filled with a fertile substrate of humus, peat, garden soil, generously seasoned with complex mineral fertilizers.
The plant does not like acidic soil. If this is your case, add 0.5 kg of bone meal or wood ash to the mixture.
When planting the rhizome with renewal buds, deepen it by 3-5 cm. It is impossible to lower it – the buds will freeze, but it is no longer worth it because in the spring they will come out of the ground for a long time and the bush may not bloom.
Bright sunlight in the morning, then bright diffused light or light partial shade.
How to water peonies and how to trim peonies- each grower decides for himself, depending on the weather. The first watering of the bushes should be done in early spring after the soil has thawed. Dissolve 2-3 g of potassium permanganate in a bucket of water and water the plants. This watering enhances the growth of the buds and root system and also disinfects the soil.
Watering peonies in dry summer. Flowers like abundant watering, but not frequent watering. In the heat, it is recommended to water the bushes in the evening every 10 days. The watering rate is 30 liters per adult peony bush. Watering should be given more attention during the abundant growth, budding, and flowering of peonies in early summer. In July-August, when the flower buds are laid for the next year, you should also not forget about watering.
Temperature and Humidity
The maximum temperature should not exceed + 15 ° C, and in order to maintain it, shade the windows on sunny days, ventilate more often.
The plant is not drought-resistant, but it does not require excessively high air humidity. The lack of moisture is compensated by watering. It is not recommended to spray or place peony bushes near bodies of water.
It is necessary don’t forget pruning peonies and plant the cuttings in the ground in the way that has already been described. The area with transplanted plants for the winter must be mulched with a seven-centimeter layer of peat, you can remove the mulch when in the spring reddish peony sprouts break through it. In the first two years after transplanting, peonies should build up a root system, so be patient and do not let young plants bloom. In the first year, pinch off all the buds that appear, the next – leave only one bud on the bush and, when it bursts, cut it as short as possible and consider how the flower matches its variety. If the match is incomplete, then you will have to pinch off the buds for another year, leaving only one until the flower fully matches its variety. This can happen in the third year, and maybe in the fifth.
Propagating and pruning peonies
You are already familiar with the vegetative propagation of peonies by dividing a bush. Peonies propagate in other ways, for example, by seed. But it should be remembered that peony seeds do not always retain varietal qualities, therefore, as a rule, only breeders use them. And plants grown from seeds bloom only in the fourth or fifth year. But if you want to try to breed a new variety, then sow freshly harvested seeds in August directly into loose soil, and they will germinate next spring.
When to cut back peonies? Only bare inflorescences are worth cutting back peonies off immediately after flowering from a peony. They are removed to the first healthy leaf.
If the autumn is warm, the peony cut too early will begin to grow shoots. The very first frosts will cause irreparable harm to your bush.
What to do with peonies after flowering? The exact time cannot be named, because it depends on the weather conditions. We recommend focusing on the ambient temperature. After the first frost, when the peonies’ stems “fall”, they need to be cut off. In herbaceous peonies, the entire aerial part is removed. Remove the stems as close to the ground as possible, leaving no more than 2-3 cm.
Some gardeners cover the plants with pruned foliage for the winter. We do not recommend doing this, because the stems can be a breeding ground for pests. Cut plants are best collected and taken to a compost pit or burned.
If you properly fill the planting hole with organic and mineral fertilizers when planting plants, then within 3-4 years the peonies will be provided with nutrients. In the future, the plants need feeding.
For the development and growth of the root system, peonies require potassium-phosphorus fertilizers, and during the period of active growth and flower setting, nitrogen fertilizers are needed. It is important to remember that you cannot get carried away with nitrogen fertilizers, as they increase the growth of green mass and can stop the appearance of flowers.
During the spring-summer season, peonies should be fed with fertilizers three times:
- 1 top dressing is carried out in early spring on snow or still wet ground. 10-15 g of carbamide and 10-20 g of potassium sulfate are scattered around the bush.
- 2 feeding is needed during the formation of buds. A solution of 10 g of carbamide, 10-15 g of potassium sulfate or potassium chloride, and 15-20 g of superphosphate is used.
- 3 top dressing is done 2-3 weeks after flowering to stimulate new buds of renewal. For feeding, use a solution with 10-15 g of potassium fertilizer and 15-20 g of phosphoric fertilizer.
Micronutrients are also beneficial for plant growth and flowering. It should be remembered that it is impossible to fertilize peonies on dry ground. The root system can get burned, which will lead to the death of perennials. Fertilizers can only be applied after watering.
Diseases and pests
Of all existing diseases, peonies most often suffer from gray rot – botrytis. This disease manifests itself in mid-May by rotting stems, although both buds and leaves can be affected by Botrytis – parts of the plant are covered with gray mold. Excess nitrogen, tightness in the flower bed, and rainy weather contribute to the appearance of gray rot. Diseased areas should be cut and burned away from all plants. As a preventive measure, spraying with a solution of copper sulfate (50 g per 10 L of water) or garlic water (10 g of crushed garlic per 1 L of water) is used. You need to spray both the plant and the soil around the bush.
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