Friday, June 17, 2011

Peony Patience

In the Fall of 2009, my in-laws informed us they had peonies that needed splitting and I eagerly responded, YES, we want them.  We cleared weeds out of an otherwise empty bed and planted 8 peony plants there.  Last Spring, the foliage came up, and a few tiny buds, but nothing that came close to flowering.  That was okay, because I had read that sometimes it takes peonies two years to establish.  Another year has passed, and our neighbors have had peonies in bloom for a few weeks now.  I checked the garden expectantly each morning, and sometimes again at night.



There were two promising buds that looked like they were ready to burst, and still I waited.  This one teased me for days.

And, finally, yesterday:

Breathtaking, aren't they?
Still, which one of these things is not like the other?

We have seven other plants with no flowers, not even any buds on them.  While I was waiting for our two beautiful flowers to do their thing,  I did some troubleshooting. 

I've learned that peonies like a minimum of 6 hours of sun.  For part of the year, ours get more than that.  But in the late summer they do spend some of the afternoon in the shade.  Still, I don't think that's our problem.  Interestingly, this source says planting your peonies in full sun means they will flower earlier than those in part shade, but that the blooms on plants in part shade will last longer. 

Peonies should be planted no more than two inches deep or they might not flower.  Hmmm.  Ours may have wound up getting a little more buried when we mulched, which is another thing you're not supposed to do.  In warmer climates there's concern that the plants will be kept too warm over the winter with mulch, but I don't think that's too big of a concern here.  We have so many weeds that I feel we have to mulch, but I'm going to try to remove a layer of soil from around the bed so there's a little less standing in the way of next year's flowers. 

Finally, this source says that peonies take THREE years to establish- first year sleep, second year creep, third year leap.  That makes me feel better.  And, once established, peonies can live for decades in one place without needing to be moved or thinned.  They have even been known to last for generations.  GENERATIONS.  I guess a little patience goes a long way.

The last thing I learned is that there is a very specific way to cut peonies if you have so many of them you want to fill vases around your house.  I'm going to let mine stay on the plant, and tuck that information away for the future. 
Have a beautiful weekend!

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