Non-Blooming Peonies - Knowledgebase Question

Hickory, NC
Avatar for kenneth4654
Question by kenneth4654
April 16, 2001
I read somewhere that you can't mulch peonies. Mine haven't bloomed yet and I was wondering what I could do to get them to stay moist during the dry season, and how to get them to bloom.

Answer from NGA
April 16, 2001
You can place organic mulch over the soil after the tops of the plants have died down at the end of the season. Straw is the material of choice because it doesn't hold a lot of moisture. During the growing season you can add organic around your peony plants to help suppress weeds and slow water evaporation, as long as you keep the mulch material a few inches away from the stems. (Too close and the mulch may hold moisture against the plant stems, causing rot. You don't mention how old these peonies are...sometimes it takes them a few years to start blooming well. If your peonies are older plantings your problem could be too much heat or shade, excessive moisture/drought, or a fertilizer problem. Full sun is generally best but partial shade is tolerated. Peonies like soil that is well drained but never dries out completely. Are you fertilizing at all? If so, your fertilizer could be too high in nitrogen (or you are applying to often and nitrogen is building up) which results in a lot of vegetative growth but little to no flowering. To try for more bloom, fertilize the peonies with a fertilizer such as a 5-10-10 in the early spring and again after flowering (if it occurs). Scratching a bit of bonemeal into the soil around the perimeter of the peonies and working it in would also be beneficial.

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