Growing Peonies

Written by Shirley Parker
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Growing peonies requires an exposure that receives six hours of sunshine every day, regardless of the direction that faces. Many peonies also need a cool season so they can go dormant, but a number of varieties do surprisingly well in somewhat warmer zones. A well-drained soil is paramount for peonies. The technical term for such soil is friable, meaning it crumbles easily.

If you're stuck with clay around your home, use a raised bed for growing peonies so water can drain away. Otherwise, the roots will rot, producing the kind of disappointment that might discourage a first time peony grower. Small white patches of fungus on the roots are not thought to be harmful when growing peonies, however.

On the subject of water, peonies do best away from large trees. Tree roots extending out from the trunk suck up too much moisture for the regal peony to compete. Herbaceous peonies should be planted in the fall before the ground freezes, and with no more than two inches of friable soil above the root crown. This is because peonies do not usually bloom when planted too deep.

Watching the Eyes when Growing Peonies

Make sure the eyes, the reddish brown buds on the crown, are pointing upwards when planting. Read the label on fertilizer to make sure you're using the right kind and amount before adding it to the soil in the hole. Press the mixture down firmly and water the peony well. Do the same for tree peonies but plant them deeper, about 4".

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