Peonies forum: secrets to growing peonies in nm

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Name: Colleen
Edgewood, NM (Zone 5b)
Live Long & Prosper.
Agoo
Sep 21, 2016 5:58 PM CST
Hello am sorta new here but decided to just jump right in. I am a firm believer that it never hurts to ask questions. I was born & raised on a small farm in southern Minnesota. My mother grew a beautiful row of peonies without any seeming difficulty. I was transplanted to new Mexico about 35 yes ago. I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to grow them here. I have planted them in full sun in soil that has been mixed with good potting soil. We get up to 2 to 3 ft of snow at times. And the temp falls below freezing most winter nights Nov - April. I provide adequate water & fertilizer. The peony plant itself dies down to below ground and starts to come up in April. The altitude here is a little over 6000 ft. And yes I have found out the hard way that this slows down plant growth a lot. I am certainly open to suggestions and advice. So please If anyone knows the secrets I would be most grateful.
Happy Gardening :-)
Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
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AlexUnder
Sep 21, 2016 7:29 PM CST
Could you please clarify before we go any further if your plants simply do not survive there or you are not having any blooms ? If they do not survive when do you see the major impact on their development - winter, summer, fall, etc? Potential problems - major - climate and temperatures, soil, could be latitude...minor - tell us more ...
Name: Colleen
Edgewood, NM (Zone 5b)
Live Long & Prosper.
Agoo
Sep 21, 2016 7:50 PM CST
The two peonies I have this year grew nice looking folage to about 18 - 24 in tall but did not have a single bud bloom. Have had others in past years that had buds but they never opened up. They did have a few ants on them but I thought I had read somewhere that they were needed for the blooms. My mom peonies always had some ants on the buds & blooms. And they always opened normally
Happy Gardening :-)
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Winter Sowing Dahlias Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Hummingbirder Cat Lover Lilies Daylilies Dog Lover Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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LizinElizabeth
Sep 21, 2016 8:56 PM CST
We're at around 6000 feet as well here in CO so it's not altitude alone, and we're a bit colder than you. My peonies emerge in mid to late March. Where did you get your peony roots? Were they a bagged, big box store purchase? If so those will grow fine but they'll take 3-4 years to get to blooming size. If you got them from a nursery how big was the pot? If you ordered them from one of the major growers online those typically bloom 1st or 2nd spring after being planted in the fall.
Peonies are actually fairly xeric when established and don't like boggy areas even when first planted, you'll want to make sure the spot they're in doesn't sit in melting snow in early spring as they're waking up--I've had issues with that. Also they might be planted too deep, the eyes should be pointed up and only 1 1/2-2 inches below the soil level. If they're too deep that might be why you don't see growth until April and could definitely cause them not to bloom.
Ants aren't necessary for them to bloom. I spread used coffee grounds around my peonies to discourage ants since I like to cut flowers to bring in, have never had any problems with them opening that wasn't caused by weather--late freezes or early really hot temps....
Keep the conversation about your peonies going, maybe we'll be able to help!
Liz
Name: Colleen
Edgewood, NM (Zone 5b)
Live Long & Prosper.
Agoo
Sep 21, 2016 9:44 PM CST
So should i dig them up and replant them to make sure they are at the correct depth. And since you are in a neighboring state I'm pretty sure you realize we don't usually get enough natural rain fall to have any boggy areas. (Sometimes I still dream of my native state of Mn, land of 10,000 lakes). OK, not to get side tracked, I bought them over 5 years ago at a local nursery. Already climatized to my area. And if you recommend digging up & replanting, when should I do this? And what other changes other then dept? Thanks for any advice you or others .might give.
Happy Gardening :-)
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Winter Sowing Dahlias Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Hummingbirder Cat Lover Lilies Daylilies Dog Lover Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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LizinElizabeth
Sep 21, 2016 9:52 PM CST
Snow melt is when I've encountered moisture issues, we have plenty of that! Nothing else really jumps out as a cause for your non-blooming peony, maybe someone else will think of something. Now is the right time to replant if you choose to do so.
Liz
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Sep 22, 2016 5:49 AM CST
I would wonder about the soil, and does it supply calcium?
I have started adding chalk, or Dolmitic lime, to the soil as I read that peony growers in Netherlands do this. I only started doing this so I don't know whether it works.
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Winter Sowing Dahlias Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Hummingbirder Cat Lover Lilies Daylilies Dog Lover Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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LizinElizabeth
Sep 22, 2016 11:02 AM CST
Colleen, do you know the average day and night temps in March and April in your area? I'm wondering why they come up so late. We're in a micro-climate of 4b here and mine all emerge in March. If yours are emerging later because of temps there's not a lot to do to change that but if there is a fixable reason I think you'll fix the bloom issue at the same time. Your peonies' abbreviated growth cycle because of late start could easily explain no blooms. Caroline's idea of calcium could help some or a fertilizer with potash, maybe.....
Liz
Name: Colleen
Edgewood, NM (Zone 5b)
Live Long & Prosper.
Agoo
Sep 22, 2016 2:07 PM CST
I will have to research the average highs & lows for that time period as am not sure. It could be anywhere from the 60s to 30s for the daytime highs to lower 30s to mid 20s for nighttime lows. But don't hold me to it until I get a chance to look that up. And the soil here is very crappy, so just about anything I add would be an improvement. I was Mn born and raised and had never been out of the state before moving here. When I first saw the dirt and saw it was brown I said what's wrong with the dirt? I had never seen anything but black dirt before that. I tip my hat to you.
Happy Gardening :-)
Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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kousa
Sep 22, 2016 6:20 PM CST
If you dig up your peonies, examine the roots to see if they have healthy eyes and roots. If they do, that is a good sign. Perhaps you have planted them too deeply for the peonies to bloom. If you cannot do a soil test, you should add some bulb feritilizer (1 tsp) to the plants in the fall and 1 tsp in spring and see if that helps. Does it get very hot before your peonies bloom?
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Winter Sowing Dahlias Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Hummingbirder Cat Lover Lilies Daylilies Dog Lover Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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LizinElizabeth
Sep 22, 2016 7:16 PM CST
It really sounds like you face the same temps and arid climate that we face here. My peonies do increase slower than others here on the forum--I don't have nearly as many first year blooms as most, but they do increase and they do bloom. I have a feeling your issue is planting depth. Plants in pots aren't necessarily at the correct depth in the pots--I've replanted several tree peonies that had to go much deeper and herbaceous that were planted too deep in the pot--had to remove soil from the top when they were planted in my garden. I'd dig yours up in the next few weeks, if the leaves have started to turn brown it's the perfect time. Check to make sure the roots are healthy like Karen said, and replant so that the eyes on the tops of the roots are no deeper than 2" below the surface. If you mulch heavily (I do, too, in my climate) you'll want to make sure it's more shallow over your peonies. The fertilizer that Karen suggests, BulbTone, has made quite a difference in number of blooms for me and it's not very expensive and easily found both locally and online. Azomite helps quite a bit with stem strength as well.
Liz
Name: Colleen
Edgewood, NM (Zone 5b)
Live Long & Prosper.
Agoo
Sep 22, 2016 8:29 PM CST
OK am going to give the replanting a shot. Maybe next spring o will have some better results. Thank you all for the advice and for sharing your knowledge with me.
Happy Gardening :-)

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