Peonies forum: Babies wilting in the sun

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Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
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joannakat
May 19, 2017 10:05 AM CST
Hi everyone,

I live in zone 5b and planted my first bare root peonies last fall. They've been coming up and I'm overjoyed to see them--one even has a bud!

Yesterday, we had record-breaking heat of over 90 F. I kept a close eye on my peony babies and when they wilted (and they did!), I gave them a nice drink of cool water being careful not to water at the base of the stems. They perked up over the next couple of hours. Then, the short heatwave ended with a thunder storm. This morning, my babies looked perky and lovely.

Today, the heat is a more manageable 70+, but I just checked on my babies again and, even though the soil is still moist (but no puddling--drainage is good), they are starting to wilt again. They are in direct, full sun (they're supposed to be, right?). I'm concerned. I'm reluctant to water them as the soil is moist, but they look like they're having a difficult time. The one that's wilting the most is Garden Treasure. Second in line is Bowl of Beauty. The third is Henry Bockstoce.

Should I maybe dig in some compost? I haven't yet, mostly because I don't know how. Should it be literally dug in to a depth of 2 inches? Should I stay away from the main stalk? Will this help with the wilting? Or should I put back the mulch I cleared about a month ago?

Thanks for any and all help.
AKA Joey.
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing Dahlias Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader
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LizinElizabeth
May 19, 2017 11:36 AM CST
You're right not to add more water, as long as the soil is damp they don't need it. I assume that the soil they went in was good-not straight clay or super sandy? They probably are just a bit heat stressed, should perk up as the sun starts to set. Even though they went in last fall they are still getting established and will wilt earlier than ones in place for years. If you think they're wilting too much you can shade them a bit during the hottest part of the day but slight wilting from the heat won't hurt them as long as you see them recovering when it cools off and they're not drying out completely.
Liz
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
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joannakat
May 19, 2017 12:09 PM CST
Thank you @LizinElizabeth, I put some ice around the base--not much, just enough to drip cool drops over the course of an hour or so. It seems to help.

The soil is nice not too sandy, not clay. But water does drain through rather quickly. Do you think digging in some compost would be helpful? If so, how would you do it?
Thank You! again!
AKA Joey.
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
May 19, 2017 2:11 PM CST
Joanna,

One of my tree peonies planted last fall wilted a bit yesterday and the day before yesterday because we had two really hot days. However, she recovered during the night. Not a big deal. Just normal reaction.

You can perhaps shade your peonies a bit if you think that it is absolutely necessary. However, if they recover of their own during the night, it is probably not necessary.
"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."~Albert Einstein
Name: Jerry
Salem, IL
Charter ATP Member
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Oldgardenrose
May 19, 2017 3:01 PM CST
My guess is peonies that wilt under 70° sunlight have either no or very poor feeder roots. July or August after weeks without rain can cause wilting. Mulching heavily around the peony for a couple of feet should solve the problem after one good watering. Vendors have been known to put a root retarding chemical on potted plants to reduce root binding. Always thoroughly wash the roots of potted plants before planting them.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
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joannakat
May 19, 2017 7:28 PM CST
Well, it was supposed to be in the 70s today, but it turned out that it was up closer to 90 so it makes sense that they wilted. They enjoyed the ice cubes though and were strong and upright by the time I got home, around 8 p.m.

So far, no one has said anything about compost. I read that peonies don't need to be fertilized, but that you should dig in about two inches of compost in the spring, which would probably hold more moisture in the soil, and which I didn't do.

I just don't understand what that means. Does that mean to put about two inches deep of compost around the plant, and then dig it in? Or does it mean to put some compost around the plant and dig it in to a depth of 2 inches? Or does it mean both? Any advice? Shrug!
AKA Joey.
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing Dahlias Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader
Irises Hummingbirder Cat Lover Lilies Daylilies Dog Lover
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LizinElizabeth
May 19, 2017 9:06 PM CST
I've never added compost to an existing peony so can't answer that question, sorry. I've used BulbTone and Azomite the last couple of years and have seen much better growth and first year blooms, that's all I can testify to!
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
May 20, 2017 7:52 AM CST
My Baby TPs are wilting in the sun too.
They were just planted last week.
They spring back when the sun moves on.

Question for anyone? Would there be any point in trying rooting hormones on new peonies? either TPs or herbaceous?
Name: LG
Nashvillle (Zone 7a)
Peonies Hummingbirder Hostas Region: Tennessee Butterflies Garden Photography
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Mieko2
May 20, 2017 3:43 PM CST
I wouldn't dig any compost in; you may disturb the new roots just put out by this newly planted root division.
You may want to put some 4 inches out from the crown, but if you properly prepared the planting hole it really isn't needed.
LG -I have a little garden in which to walk and immensity in which to dream.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
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joannakat
May 20, 2017 3:59 PM CST
Thank You!
AKA Joey.
Name: Yan H
Westminster, MD (Zone 6b)
Garden Photography Peonies
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huang049
May 21, 2017 12:13 AM CST
CarolineScott said:My Baby TPs are wilting in the sun too.
They were just planted last week.
They spring back when the sun moves on.

Question for anyone? Would there be any point in trying rooting hormones on new peonies? either TPs or herbaceous?


Caroline, I use it on all bare root plants, it helps to lower the transplant shock to the plants.
Name: Yan H
Westminster, MD (Zone 6b)
Garden Photography Peonies
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huang049
May 21, 2017 8:28 AM CST

[Last edited by huang049 - May 21, 2017 8:35 AM (+)]
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