Peonies forum: Is it possible to save a partly rotted root?

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Name: Anya
Fairbanks, AK (Zone 3b)
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anyagoro
Mar 27, 2017 3:41 PM CST
I am going through my potted peonies and have found a few completely rotted ones, possibly kept the pots outside too long last fall - until the temperatures became +14F. Some peonies still have eyes and some are growing, I will see the loss when check all peonies. Very disappointing but this is the second time I am having potted peonies over winter.

I found that 'Carnation Bouquet' and 'Ben Erickson' rotted partly, though no good eyes. I cut rotted parts and put small roots with former eyes into a plastic bag with damp perlite. I don't know if it will help or anything can be done to revive the roots.

My 'Postillion' and 'Chalice' still have good eyes but I don't see that they have started to grow after I put them on a window sill. I assume that their roots are partly rotted, at least they behave like 'Roselette' which eventually rotted. I plan to wait one-two more days and if the eyes don't grow to dig the roots out. Maybe if I cut the rotted part they will survive.

Has somebody have this problembefore? What is your experience? I am open to any advice. Thank You!
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
Mar 27, 2017 4:08 PM CST
Carnation Bouquet is a hybrid peony, some are known to grow from non-eyed roots so that one has a better chance. Ben Erickson isn't so less likely. What kind of pots do you have them in? Overwatering is just as big of a threat as drying out too much when potted and some pots get way too hot for the roots to do well. Postillion and Chalice are both Saunders hybrids as is Roselette. Every Saunders peony that I have is planted in a dry location, almost like a fernleaf. Those will absolutely rot if overwatered. If you're keeping them in pots make sure you have very good draining soil and let them dry out down an inch or 2 before watering again.

I tried peonies in pots once and it was a dismal failure, hopefully someone who's had success will chime in here and give you better advice.
LizB
Name: Anya
Fairbanks, AK (Zone 3b)
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anyagoro
Mar 27, 2017 4:20 PM CST
Thanks, Liz. I watered very little and only a few times during the winter and now the soil is just damp, when I dug the rotted roots out it was obvious. I read a lot about potted peonies on-line, one source said it was safe to have roots in freezing temperatures if surrounded in soil. The previous fall (2015) I did not let peonies to be in freezing temps, I blame the cold but no sure. Anyway it's too late.

I use big pots so a root is comfortably placed. The soil is not ideal - native with amendments, it drains, I checked, maybe not very good, that's why I am very careful with watering and sometimes I am afraid I keep the peonies too dry.
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
Mar 27, 2017 4:24 PM CST
I actually asked Carol Adelman about potting them. I purchased an Alice Harding tp from them and wanted to keep it in a very large pot since it's a very short tree and the flowers tend to droop, thought it would have a better presentation. She said it's not the freezing that kills the roots but the fact that there isn't enough soil to stay frozen--the freeze/thaw/repeat gets them. I potted several herbaceous I'd divided as an experiment and not a single one made it out alive but mine stayed outside the entire winter.
LizB
Name: Anya
Fairbanks, AK (Zone 3b)
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anyagoro
Mar 27, 2017 5:05 PM CST
Good point. Our autumns are very steady - once it's cold it stays cold. Maybe there were a couple of freeze/thaw in the first days of October. I planted the roots in pots between September 24th and October 3rd and since October 14th the temperatures never went above freezing. On October 22nd we mover all pots indoors (+40F), later the temperatures became +34F and never lower than freezing.

I started to check with herbaceous hybrids, some made it, some have not, I don't see a pattern, checked a few lactiflora, one did not make it, will see how many survived in total. Sighing!
Name: LG
Nashvillle (Zone 7a)
Peonies Hummingbirder Hostas Region: Tennessee Butterflies Garden Photography
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Mieko2
Mar 27, 2017 5:37 PM CST
Anya, that is so upsetting. I know you did your best. I really don't have any advice for you as your climate is so much colder than mine.
Our peonies in pots rot in the summer from the heat and humidity unless they have perfect drainage.

LG - My garden grows with love and a lot of hard work.
[Last edited by Mieko2 - Mar 28, 2017 6:41 AM (+)]
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Name: Jerry
Salem, IL
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Oldgardenrose
Mar 27, 2017 7:01 PM CST
They are salvageable provided there are partial roots attached to the crown. I would carefully cut off all but one or two of the most healthy eyes and plant them normally. I have salvaged fern leafs with just a finger sized root and one eye. With patience, they will multiply into nice plants.
Name: Anya
Fairbanks, AK (Zone 3b)
Cat Lover
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anyagoro
Mar 29, 2017 1:29 AM CST
Jerry, I tried - dug out Chalice and Postillion. Chalice's root all rotted, only a tiny upper part with a big eye could be saved. It is surprising to see healthy eyes on a rotted root. Postillion's root was much better with 7 eyes and even a few white small roots (but I destroyed them accidentally, they are so fragile!). Both are in small pots on a window sill, I hope for the best Crossing Fingers!

Finished to check all potted peonies, no more losses so far, but I see only eyes, who knows what's in the soil Shrug! I left most of pots in the cold and took 6 out to watch, 4 are hybrids Crossing Fingers!
Name: Jerry
Salem, IL
Charter ATP Member
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Oldgardenrose
Mar 29, 2017 2:45 PM CST
The practice of removing all but one or two eyes from a crown with reduced roots is because small roots will not support growth for several eyes.

Agapanthusco
Sep 23, 2018 6:57 PM CST
I'm tearing down my house and all land will be cleared this December for access to site. I have very well established herbaceous peonies (zone 5 north facing) on the extreme perimeter of the land. Should I dig them up and pot them for the duration? Or should I mark where they are and just pray they are deep enough to be unscathed? Digging in Denver
Name: LG
Nashvillle (Zone 7a)
Peonies Hummingbirder Hostas Region: Tennessee Butterflies Garden Photography
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Mieko2
Sep 24, 2018 7:40 AM CST
I'm sorry, but unless you completely fence that area in, maybe with that bright orange plastic fencing you see at work sites, you run the risk of workers running equipment over your peonies. How many plants are you talking about? Where would you put them if you potted them up?
LG - My garden grows with love and a lot of hard work.
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
Sep 24, 2018 12:09 PM CST
If there's any chance heavy equipment is going to go over your peonies I'd move them. I've overwintered peonies in pots in CO but they were in an unheated garage, harder outside because it warms up so much here then freezes again, that cycle is vicious. And don't overwater, let them dry out quite a bit before watering again.
LizB

Agapanthusco
Sep 25, 2018 7:29 AM CST
To Mieko and Lizin Elizabeth
Unfortunately it's a border so Sbout twelve 15 year old peonies! I've been dividing like mad, potting up and moving to a spot as far away from the potential entry of machinery as possible!
Name: LG
Nashvillle (Zone 7a)
Peonies Hummingbirder Hostas Region: Tennessee Butterflies Garden Photography
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Mieko2
Sep 25, 2018 1:54 PM CST
That's the prudent thing to do, Agapanthus. Workers just see plant material as an impediment to their tasks! Good luck, and post photos of your peonies if you can!
LG - My garden grows with love and a lot of hard work.
Name: Anya
Fairbanks, AK (Zone 3b)
Cat Lover
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anyagoro
Sep 25, 2018 11:18 PM CST
Good luck, Agapanthus!

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