Peonies forum: Bulb food for peonies

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Name: Carol H. Sandt
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Peonies Butterflies Region: Mid-Atlantic Hibiscus Daylilies Xeriscape
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csandt
Feb 18, 2017 9:18 AM CST
Last year, I read an NGA gardener's recommendation to fertilize peonies with bulb food as soon as new shoots were visible in early spring, and I want to do that this spring. However, in reading the labels of the various bulb fertilizers that I have on hand, I have noticed differences in the instructions for the appropriate time to apply. (I realize that these instructions are meant for daffodils etc., rather than peonies.)

Here are the recommendations: Schultz: apply after new foliage has appeared; Vigoro: apply immediately after bulbs bloom; Scotts: apply at flowering; Scotts is a continuous release fertilizer that acts over a period of two months. Is there a best choice of bulb fertilizers for peonies? Perhaps it is some other brand.???
Carol H. Sandt

“Unlike writers of passing fame, a classic author speaks a new word in every generation." -- Daniel Ritchie
[Last edited by csandt - Feb 18, 2017 9:25 AM (+)]
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Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader Irises
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LizinElizabeth
Feb 18, 2017 9:41 AM CST
I started using BulbTone https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F2QJ6NE/ (available everywhere but that's the product if you want to see exactly what I'm talking about) after Karen here on the peony forum said she used it. If you look back at prior year's pics you'll see her peonies are amazing! We've purchased the same peonies at the same time and her 1st year growth is probably 3 times more than mine was so I thought I'd try what she was using! Some of the difference is in where we live but I did see a huge improvement in how many 1st year plants bloomed for me after using Bulbtone, also in the size of blooms on some of the more established roots. I now put BulbTone in the planting hole with new peonies, beneath the root with a cover of soil to separate from direct contact, as well as in the spring as soon as they emerge. I'm also experimenting with Azomite to see if that will help beef up the stems so there is less damage from late frosts/blizzards....more on that as my experiment progresses!

Hollingsworths and at least one of the other big growers also recommend fertilizing peonies after the blooms are spent, others say fertilizing's not necessary at all. I think Swenson's might sell what they use, advertise to be completely organic so it might be something to check out. Others here have processes they follow as well that seem to work very well for them. I think a lot of it is trial and evaluate results. What works well for some might not show results in another's garden or might not fit into their gardening style. For me, sprinkling a bit of granular fertilizer around in the spring fits in exactly, I like to walk around and see the new growth so I just gently scratch in the stuff as I go. And it's super easy to put a bit in the hole when planting, put a bit of soil over it then the root on top. Even though I respect the heck out of Don Hollingsworth I'll probably never fertilize when he recommends because I don't deadhead my established peonies anymore so don't visit each plant right after flowering (trying to encourage seeds!). If the fertilizer regime fits in your gardening process as it is now it's much more likely to be successful because you're much more likely to actually do it.
LizB
Name: Tracey
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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magnolialover
Feb 18, 2017 10:49 AM CST

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Adelmans sells what they use and also give instructions. I would trust the growers above all else, but that is just me.
http://peonyparadise.com/peony...
Tracey
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Oberon46
Feb 18, 2017 11:28 AM CST
$25 for five two pound bags with $17.95 postage. Sad Sad Don't think so.

I ordered two bags Espoma from Amazon Smile using my daughter's Prime card (no freight) and using Amazon.Smile so the Alaska Native Plant Society gets a donation. SCORE!

Name: Tracey
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
Forum moderator Hybridizer Tomato Heads Pollen collector Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Cat Lover
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Garden Photography Seed Starter Region: Wisconsin
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magnolialover
Feb 18, 2017 11:42 AM CST

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I have it shipped with my peonies, no extra charge.
Tracey
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Oberon46
Feb 18, 2017 11:46 AM CST
Somehow I doubt that would work to Alaska but it might. It would be interesting to ask. I did that some years ago with Adelman's but don't remember the results. I am going to try the fertilizer buckets recommended here by someone. Liquid fertilizer in buckets with small hole to slowly water and fertilize each plant. Sounds kind of neat. Course now that I have solid fertilizer coming I may have to try it out on other plants Could even put measurements on the buckets and portion out the liquid as it reaches each mark move on to the next plant. That way I would be watering and fertilizing measureably rather than my usual haphazard methods. Hilarious!
Name: Tracey
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
Forum moderator Hybridizer Tomato Heads Pollen collector Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Cat Lover
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Garden Photography Seed Starter Region: Wisconsin
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magnolialover
Feb 18, 2017 11:56 AM CST

Moderator

The other options for granular is matching the NPK level on what growers use and finding a close match or identical one by a trusted marketplace source.

Doing a trial of different techniques : example the liquid bucket method versus the granular on identical cultivars if you had them. Nice little study:)
Tracey
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Oberon46
Feb 18, 2017 6:18 PM CST
True. I don't have more than one of each. Well, not true. I dug up and split Border Charm last year so I have three out front. One is hardly there so tiny but the other two have buds on them, or did when they went in last fall. Since they are within a few feet of each other only the fertilizer would be different. Sort of. the condition of the roots themselves would also make a difference but after the first year they should even out from that difference.
Name: Jerry
Salem, IL
Charter ATP Member
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Oldgardenrose
Feb 18, 2017 7:21 PM CST
When I proposed the leaky bucket technique for peonies, it was meant for fertilizing and watering. I have a surplus of cat litter buckets since my wife has 3 cats. I use a full bucket of water with about 3 scoops of MG for each peony. I use 4 buckets so I can treat 4 peonies at the same time. Using only one bucket for fertilizing would work just fine by dividing the bucket into measured sections for applying the same amount of fertilizer to each plant. I developed that technique for watering peonies because I always had excessive black spotting when using foliar feeding. Repeat the treatment at least 3 times, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Keeps the soil mildly fertile during the entire year.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Oberon46
Feb 18, 2017 9:23 PM CST
Sounds good to me and I intend to give it a try. It is more methodical and less 'by the seat of my pants' that what I usually do.
Name: LG
Nashvillle (Zone 7a)
Peonies Hummingbirder Hostas Region: Tennessee Butterflies Garden Photography
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Mieko2
Feb 19, 2017 7:42 AM CST
You need to keep in mind your own gardening conditions when considering fertilizing when the eyes breach the soil. Right now my Corals are up anywhere from an inch to 4 inches. I am not going to add fertilizer at this time because they are up 3 weeks early and I don't want to stimulate this growth. I feel certain that we will get some cold weather in March that I will have to try to protect them from. I was looking through last year's photos and we had snow on March 20.

LG - My garden grows with love and a lot of hard work.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Oberon46
Feb 19, 2017 11:06 AM CST
Well get out the large planting pots to over them but I guess remay or row cover would work also or is that not heavy enough?
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader Irises
Hummingbirder Cat Lover Lilies Daylilies Dog Lover Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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LizinElizabeth
Feb 19, 2017 4:51 PM CST
I bought row cover fabric for that purpose last year but ended up not using it, did the pot thing instead. I'm not sure if it would be enough when the temps drop to single digits or below 0.....
LizB
[Last edited by LizinElizabeth - Feb 20, 2017 3:52 PM (+)]
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Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Oberon46
Feb 20, 2017 9:47 AM CST
That's what I am thinking, Remay is even lighter and yet I see it used as fall and spring protection. Must be for very very light frosts.
Name: Annette
Duluth, Ga (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member Roses Birds Tropicals Hummingbirder Bulbs
Region: Georgia Lilies Irises Peonies Clematis Plumerias
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Cem9165
Mar 3, 2017 9:40 PM CST
Carol,

I started fertilizing my peonies several years ago, I've been using Stay Green Blub Food in the fall and spring. It lasts for 3 months. This year I didn't fertilize until 12/26. My pips have always increased in the winter, our soil doesn't stay frozen, and this year it's not frozen at all.

I also add it to the planting hole, (we have red clay soil) with soil conditioner, Azomite, and composted manure whenever I put in new plants. I've noticed that my newer peonies planted this way increase and bloom faster, than my older peonies that didn't get this treatment.

I have also read that some gardeners don't fertilize their peonies at all, and they still do fine. That's not been my experience. I planted my 1st set of peonies in 2007 with soil conditioner, but without fertilizer, and they took years to bloom.

I also use composted manure and Azomite on the older plants at least once during the growing season.

Here's a pic of the bulb fertilizer.
Thumb of 2017-03-04/Cem9165/b905f1

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