The Q&A Archives: Peony Division

Question: I planted some peonies,moon river,festiva maxima,angel cheeks, and several others in 1987? as foundation plantings. over the years an invasive vine has all most chokes them out. Other than cutting off the dead follage in early winter they have had little care.I`m going to rebuld the beds this fall to first eliminate the vine and best advice to help the peonies.

Answer: Peonies do best in full sun and in a rich soil; once they are established, an annual application of complete fertilizer and/or compost each spring should be adequate. They also appreciate a layer of organic mulch several inches thick year round. Removing the old stems and foliage each fall after frost is also recommended. When reworking the soil you might dig in a generous amount of compost and/or other organic matter and any other amendments as might be indicated by the results of basic soil tests. Your county extension should be able to help you with the tests and interpreting the results. Fall is a good time to lift and divide or transplant peonies, but keep in mind that they will take some time, possibly several years, to settle in and recover. Be careful to replant them so that the eyes are only about two inches below the soil surface. Planting too deep will prevent them from blooming. Once planted ion a favorable spot, peonies can be left in place for decades and should perform very well for years and years.

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