When choosing peonies, give special consideration to the “singles”, which are fragrant and gorgeous, but don’t require as much staking.
If a peony is well situated and happy, it may bloom for 100 years or more with little or no attention. This means it’s worth spending some time up front, choosing the right planting location and preparing the soil. That said, there are many stories about forgotten peony plants found blooming in the woods against old cellar holes. But like all plants, peonies will be healthier, more vigorous and more floriferous if they have ideal growing conditions.
Peonies prefer a sunny location with well-drained soil. Good air circulation around the plant is also important. These growing conditions help peonies avoid their only serious disease problem: botrytis. Like other fungal diseases, botrytis is present in most soils. It usually only becomes a problem if the plant is weak, the weather is unusually cool and wet, or if there are other infected plants nearby. Signs of botrytis are blackened buds and stems, and sometimes rotting at the base of the plant. Cut off and dispose of any affected areas (put this material in the trash, not in your compost pile). The best strategy for botrytis problems is prevention, and that goes back to proper planting.
Adjustable peony support
With Adjustable Grow-Through Supports, you can raise the rings as peonies grow.
A special note for gardeners in the warm climates: Peonies will be more robust and their blooms will last longer if the plants receive some shade during the hottest part of the day. Peonies are an iffy prospect in warm zones, and impossible in some. To find out of they can be grown in your area, check with a good gardener in the neighborhood or your cooperative extension. To find out where your extension service is, start here: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/
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