Peonies forum→Transplant questions

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Name: Jesse
SW Michigan (Zone 6a)
jessman1128
Jun 9, 2020 11:11 AM CST
Hello, I am new to this site, and new to having peonies. My wife brought home three peony plants (each with a stalk, multiple branches w/ leaves, and a small thick root) from a friend's house the other day. Our soil is relatively heavy and I had just used up all our peat moss earlier in the day transplanting a rhododendron that she bought. We didn't know anything about peonies, but figured it wouldn't be good for them to dry out overnight (couldn't get more peat until the following day) so I put them in a vase of water overnight. Got more peat moss the next day, mixed a good amount into the soil, and planted them with the root section several inches deep. (Read a few pages about transplanting peonies that day, realized it wasn't good for them to have sat that long, but also saw they shouldn't be planted very deep, hence only several inches deep.) As they were rather tall (maybe 1.5-2 feet) I put a couple stakes in the ground and wrapped a zip tie chain around them and the stakes to help support them. This is the 3rd day since planting them and each day they are looking worse and worse. They are drooping quite badly now. I watered them after planting them, and then again yesterday. We've had quite hot weather the past several days - upper 80's, low 90's. I saw on another page yesterday that it might be wise to cut back some of the foliage in this scenario, but it wasn't clear on the specifics. So, I'm wondering if I should be cutting some of the foliage, and if so, just the leaves, or the branches as well? Should I be shading them artificially? They're getting probably 8-ish hours of son a day right now. I've included a picture from this morning.
Thumb of 2020-06-09/jessman1128/5524b2

Name: David Tillyer
New York City (Zone 7b)
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BigAppleRoseGuy
Jun 9, 2020 11:22 AM CST
I can't help you, but I'm eager to hear the answers. I've got a bunch of peonies that
are too dense. I want to divide and transplant, but am a little nervous.
David
Name: Jasmin
Toronto, Ontario (Zone 5b)
Peonies Roses Clematis Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Bee Lover
Cat Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: Canadian Permaculture Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Jasmin
Jun 9, 2020 1:30 PM CST
Your peonies have been shocked by transplantation. They will probably survive, because peonies are very resilient. I have a meeting starting in a couple of minutes and it might last till 8pm. Hopefully someone else will respond during today, but if not, I will respond tomorrow. Don't worry, nothing will happen till tomorrow.
"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."~Albert Einstein
Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
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AlexUnder
Jun 9, 2020 2:01 PM CST
Shade it artificially. Keep the mulch for the time being, but consider removing it totally near peony crown early next spring. Do not fertilize at least until fall. Do not water more often than weekly this summer even if there is not rain. Never water over the top, leaves or crown. Less if it raining. Do not cut anything unless it turns brown.
[Last edited by AlexUnder - Jun 9, 2020 2:02 PM (+)]
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Name: Jesse
SW Michigan (Zone 6a)
jessman1128
Jun 9, 2020 2:31 PM CST
AlexUnder said:Shade it artificially.

Thank you!! Should it be in shade around the clock? If not, how many hours of sun per day would be okay for it?
Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
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AlexUnder
Jun 9, 2020 4:06 PM CST
For 1-2 weeks give it only 2-3 hours of morning or afternoon sun, later increase slowly.
Name: LG
Nashvillle (Zone 7a)
Peonies Hummingbirder Hostas Region: Tennessee Butterflies Garden Photography
Forum moderator
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Mieko2
Jun 9, 2020 7:57 PM CST

Moderator

It also sound like you may have planted them too deep. The top of the crown (where the stems attach to the roots) should be no more than 2 inches below the soil in your zone. Since you've just planted them , fix it tomorrow. Then do as Alex said and shade the plant, and don't cut anything off unless it turns brown. Don't overwater. It may go dormant very early, but if you do all this, it will most likely send up new stems properly next Spring.

@BigAppleRoseGuy, wait until Fall when your peonies go dormant to dig up and divide. That is the proper time.
LG - My garden grows with love and a lot of hard work.
Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
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AlexUnder
Jun 9, 2020 8:41 PM CST
Agree with LG, I missed that part about a few inches deep.
Name: David Tillyer
New York City (Zone 7b)
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BigAppleRoseGuy
Jun 10, 2020 4:41 AM CST
Thanks for the tip @Mieko2. Sigh...everything's so hard to find in the fall :-). David
Name: Jasmin
Toronto, Ontario (Zone 5b)
Peonies Roses Clematis Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Bee Lover
Cat Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: Canadian Permaculture Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Jasmin
Jun 10, 2020 8:51 AM CST
I agree with everything above; I wouldn't cut anything until it turns brown. I know that some people cut half of the leaves assuming that it will be easier to the (now smaller) root system to support the leaves. I have never done that. Instead I let the plant support as many leaves it can, hoping that the plant still can continue with photosynthesis and collect enough food and nutrients to survive the winter. I would definitely protect the plant from too much sun, and water as much as necessary. If it is too hot, it might be even every second or third day. You simply have to watch the soil around the plant. I usually touch the soil; if it sticks to my fingers, it is moist enough.

Peonies are very resilient. It's very likely that they will all survive untimely transplantation, but they will need a bit of TLC. Crossing Fingers! By the way, the best time to transplant peonies is in the fall.
"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."~Albert Einstein
[Last edited by Jasmin - Jun 10, 2020 8:54 AM (+)]
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Name: LG
Nashvillle (Zone 7a)
Peonies Hummingbirder Hostas Region: Tennessee Butterflies Garden Photography
Forum moderator
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Mieko2
Jun 10, 2020 9:50 AM CST

Moderator

David, most of us buy bareroot peonies that ship in Fall. You get a larger variety than what is stocked in garden centers.

Peonies live for decades. Buy some spectacular ones that will thrill you every Spring!
LG - My garden grows with love and a lot of hard work.
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Dragonflies Butterflies Bulbs Birds Bee Lover
Annuals Irises Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader
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LizinElizabeth
Jun 10, 2020 9:59 AM CST

Moderator

Jesse, giving it shade as suggested is the absolute beat thing you can do for a peony that is transplanted once the weather is warm. When established in the ground the plant will grow really small, hair like capillary roots and those are destroyed when it's dug and moved unless you're incredibly careful
and lucky. Without those little roots it's hard for the plant to draw up enough moisture to keep the foliage hydrated, even if it's constantly being watered. The shade will help keep the plant cooler and lessen its need for water and leases the stress on your plant. I'd leave it at least partly shaded through the hottest part of your summer but after the next several weeks you can probably move your temp shade so it's getting more morning sun, I'd just adjust it based on whether the plant starts to drip again. Best of luck and welcome to the forum! We'll make you a peony addict like we are if you stay around long, fair warning!
LizB
Name: Jesse
SW Michigan (Zone 6a)
jessman1128
Jun 10, 2020 11:41 AM CST
Thank you, all, for the advice! Quick update: discovered my supports were not adequate as I found them completely drooped over to the ground today. I've just now tied a few more support strings to the stakes to help prop them up, hoping it wasn't too late to keep the visible plant from dying. The stems are, for lack of a better word, creased in a few places where they bent over - in other words, the droop wasn't one big curve, but some smaller curves punctuated by some actual bends in the stem. They're close to a chain-link fence, which I think will simplify providing artificial shade. I just tied a flattened cardboard box to the fence, not sure if it will block the sun as much as I'd like, but the sun's behind the clouds today so will have to check back later today or tomorrow.

What do peonies look like when they go dormant? Does the greenery all die?

I'll get back out there tonight and carefully scrape away the soil on top to find out for sure how deep the root sections are, and adjust accordingly if necessary.
Name: Anya
Fairbanks, AK (Zone 3a)
Cat Lover
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anyagoro
Jun 11, 2020 12:39 PM CST
Jesse, Welcome! to the Forum! Here you got all good advises, I can just add that if the leaves die despite all your efforts there is still a hope that the peony will grow feeding roots (thin like threads) during the rest of the summer/fall and next spring will grow healthy foliage. Good luck!
Name: Jesse
SW Michigan (Zone 6a)
jessman1128
Jun 11, 2020 3:54 PM CST
Thank you, Anya! All, I carefully dug them up last night and found the tops of the roots 4-6 inches beneath the soil line. Carefully pulled them up, shoved some dirt underneath them, and re-buried them around 2 inches beneath the soil line. Hoping that will help their survival chances, if not for this year, then for next year at least. They're looking pretty dismal above ground.
Name: Anya
Fairbanks, AK (Zone 3a)
Cat Lover
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anyagoro
Jun 11, 2020 5:41 PM CST
You did all right, Jesse!
Name: NANCY RUSSELL
PA
YCNAN
Jun 13, 2020 4:39 AM CST
WHENEVER I TRANSPLANT A PEONY IT TAKES YEARS FOR IT TO REBLOOM. I HAD ONE THAT TOOK 5 YEARS BUT WHEN IT BLOOMED IT WAS SPECTACULAR
Name: Teresa Cole
Bayfield, Colorado S.W. Rockie (Zone 4b)
8000 ft. Up
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ttkc4704
Jun 13, 2020 8:12 AM CST
Even if you think it has died, leave it until late Spring. I am always surprised by them coming back from the root.
Weed= A flower yet to be appreciated
Name: Nancy
North Dakota (Zone 4a)
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comgoddess
Jun 13, 2020 12:01 PM CST
Jesse, peonies are very hardy and you've gotten some good advice here. I thought I'd post a couple pictures to give you some confidence in them.

This is what my peonies looked like a year after I split them up and transplanted them to a new location. The year before this picture was taken (when I moved them), they didn't look nearly as good as yours.
Thumb of 2020-06-13/comgoddess/f5b160

This is what they looked like two years later.
Thumb of 2020-06-13/comgoddess/884eae

This year, they're about 6 feet across in diameter and they aren't even in full sun. I think yours will be fine.

[Last edited by comgoddess - Jun 13, 2020 12:04 PM (+)]
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Name: Tracey
Midwest (Zone 5a)
Forum moderator Hybridizer Tomato Heads Pollen collector Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Cat Lover
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magnolialover
Jun 13, 2020 2:05 PM CST

Moderator

There is a link to a video on dividing peonies here:
https://www.marthastewartweddi...

I also put this on the info page.

Fall planting and dividing is optimal as the plant does not have to focus both on root and flower development.

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