Ask a Question forum: Help! Tree Peony uprooted

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Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
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LysmachiaMoon
Dec 23, 2014 5:40 PM CST
Did I kill my Tree Peony? I was trying to lift a herbaceous peony growing right beside it (they came mistakenly packaged together when i planted the tree peony 4-5 years ago). I got the fork under the herbaceous peony and lifted and there was an almighty cracking noise and BOTH plants lifted out. The herbaceous is fine, but the tree peony came out with a thick (about 3 inches diameter) "stump" of a root only about 10 inches long. All the big lateral roots had cracked off. I replanted it immediately, watered it in and staked it. Should I prune it back hard? It's carrying about 3-4 feet of top growth (loaded with buds...drat). The tree peony is fully dormant.

What about the broken off roots? Will they sprout?
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Name: Reine
Porter, Texas (Zone 9a)
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Reine
Dec 24, 2014 2:17 PM CST
Hi Annie. So sorry for this mishap.
My grandpa always told me, "When you loose some bottom, loose as much on the top". He also told me, "Plants are engineered to reproduce".

My opinion would be to prune the tree. And the remaining roots could start growing. Now I have no experience with Tree Peony, but I did have a branch (a little over 1" diameter) get broken off a Bursera fagaroides. I pruned the top and staked the branch in soil and it rooted.

I wish you well with your tree. Thumbs up
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Dec 25, 2014 3:38 PM CST
What a shame, Annie. I think the lack of response to your question is a sign that "only time will tell" whether the plant will survive.

I would give it some shade as the weather warms up, until you're sure it's making some new roots it probably won't take full hot sun. Early spring sun, probably ok but as it starts to leaf out, keep a sharp eye on it for wilting in the middle of the day. If it does start wilting give it a spritz or two with the hose, to mist the leaves. This is a technique for rooting cuttings in the ground too, misting them and keeping shaded until they show new growth. New top growth indicates new root growth.

But I surely would prune back the top, maybe leave only a couple of good branches, so in spring the leaves will make some food for the roots to grow back.

As for the roots that broke off, some tree peonies are grafted, so if they do sprout, there's no guarantee you'll get the same plant from those roots. I gave my daughter a nice dark red tree peony, and after it bloomed the first or second year, a sport appeared from the base of the plant with a flower of an entirely different color, rather an unsightly mauve/pink. That's when I found out that tree peonies may (or may not) be grafted.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
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LysmachiaMoon
Dec 25, 2014 5:20 PM CST
Thanks Elaine. I'm beginning to suspect that my tree peony might have actually been grafted to the herbaceous peony root...otherwise, why would the two have come up in such close (really intertwined) proximity. Ah well, I got 4-5 good years out of the plant, so if it fails, I guess I should still be content. I will indeed prune it back hard and hope for the best. Thanks!
The end is nothing, the journey is all.
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
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lovemyhouse
Dec 25, 2014 5:27 PM CST
Would you keep us informed of progress, Annie? I am very interested in how it turns out. Smiling
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
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LysmachiaMoon
Dec 26, 2014 9:22 AM CST
Will do. Thanks to everyone for their help!
The end is nothing, the journey is all.
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
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gemini_sage
Dec 26, 2014 10:56 AM CST
I had a similar experience with a tree peony too. After growing it for several years, a herbaceous peony sprouted right next to it and bloomed. Until then, I had no idea they were grafted. I dug under the soil a bit, and removed the growth and buds I found under there, and didn't have any more issues. It sounds like yours has enough root attached to survive, but I agree with others that pruning back would be a good idea. Best of luck.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
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LysmachiaMoon
May 4, 2015 5:02 PM CST
UPDATE: I am happy to report that the uprooted and damaged tree peony survived, despite a very brutal winter. I did not prune it back for winter, merely mulched it well and supported it with a post. Two weeks ago, I carefully cut away the dead upper growth to about 1 foot above ground. Within the past few days, it's showing fat pink buds all over the living growth, so I am pretty sure it will survive. It will probably be a few years before I see flowers again, but I'm just glad to have it! Thanks again to all the great advice and guidance. Youns guys are da best!
The end is nothing, the journey is all.
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
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lovemyhouse
May 4, 2015 6:02 PM CST
Yea!!!!
Hurray! Hurray!
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'

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