Paeonia lactiflora, or the Korean Peony, is a stunning perennial that can be found in gardens across the world, and for good reason – these plants are gorgeous! Not only do their flowers look fantastic, but the foliage of these plants is also very nice to look at. The problem with peonies is that they can take a lot of maintenance to keep them looking beautiful throughout the year, so knowing how to grow peonies can really help you enjoy them more and will help ensure that you get as much enjoyment from your peonies as possible.
Step 1: Select the perfect location
The best spot for peony is an area that receives six hours or more of direct sunlight each day. Plus, make sure it is in well-drained soil with a pH that ranges between 5 and 7. Peonies are heavy feeders, so prepare the bed with plenty of compost before you plant them in your garden.
If you want them grown in containers, select containers that have at least twelve inches of drainage holes at the bottom. The container should be about twice as large as the root ball with a large pot being necessary if there are any stalks more than four feet tall.
Additionally, keep your plants free from pests by spraying a mixture of water and horticultural oil on their leaves weekly. Be mindful when planting peonies near garden edibles though! They release compounds into the air that can inhibit seed germination and growth, as well as attract aphids to crops.
Peonies thrive in USDA zones 3-7 but can be found in other areas of North America. Look for cultivars that are appropriate for your location such as Red Charm (USDA zones 3-8), Delaware Valley White (USDA zones 4b-9), Valley View (USDA zones 4b-9), or Giant Imperial Purple (USDA zones 6b-10).
Step 2: Plant in spring or early summer
Paeonia lactiflora (peony) is a deciduous perennial that belongs to the genus peony and has a variety of cultivars. The flower has five overlapping petals and three yellow stamens, giving them a distinctive appearance. They can be planted in spring or early summer in semi-shade; if planted during autumn, apply mulch around its base for protection from frost.
Be careful when planting peonies as they do not tolerate disturbance of their roots well; use a fork to make holes for planting. Place your peonies about 15cm away from each other and ensure that there is enough space between rows for your plant to thrive. It should be watered at least once every two weeks, with plenty of sunlight. If grown indoors, place it near a window facing south or west so it will get the necessary amount of light!
Step 3: Give them plenty of water
When you’re planting, amend your soil with compost or manure and let it sit before planting. Plant peonies in a partially shaded area with moist, well-draining soil. Fertilize them monthly with a balanced fertilizer mixed at 1/4 recommended strength or fish emulsion or water kelp. When applying fertilizer use a 3-inch deep band on either side of the plant for roots to grow into. Water the plant deeply once or twice a week, taking care not to wet foliage if it’s going through a dormant period of growth. Protect newly planted peonies from slugs by placing a ring of diatomaceous earth around the plant’s root zone.
Erect deer fencing around an entire bed, pushing the bottom edge just under the soil surface and extending it over 6 feet high. In areas where deer are prevalent, install 8-foot tall fences instead.
A beautiful way to add more peonies is to layer them with other perennials; try planting red and yellow daylilies together so that their leaves cover up any bare spots left between individual peony plants.
Pruning is only necessary if plants are overcrowded or damaged by animals or insects; otherwise, leave them be!
Step 4: Add an organic mulch
Place a 10-inch deep layer of organic mulch over the entire root area of the plant. Use about 3-4 bales of straw for a healthy plant in an average-sized garden. Less is needed for potted plants.
The mulch should be just big enough so it will not touch or crowd the leaves of your plant and so that it goes from surrounding the base, halfway up its stem, out to a ring around it at least five inches away from its trunk or drip line. This is called hilling. The mulch must also be damp when you place it on top of your roots. You can do this by sprinkling some water on the ground before laying down the mulch.
Step 5: Feed with compost tea or seaweed extracts
Now it’s time to give your hard work a little food. Compost tea and seaweed extracts are both good choices, but they each have different pros and cons. As well as one of these being more accessible than the other in different parts of the world. For example, many people use seaweed extract along with fish emulsion or kelp powder because it’s more affordable in many places. But what you choose will depend on what is most easy for you to access locally, as well as which nutrient balance works best for your plant’s specific needs.
The type of soil you’ve chosen also has an effect on this decision. The organic materials that were used in the soil before planting can affect how often compost tea is needed – some soils may require fertilizing every two weeks while others might need it monthly. The water supply can also affect how often nutrients are needed; if your area has high rainfall then less fertilizer may be necessary. Keep records about when you feed so that you know when it’s been too long without feeding and can correct accordingly next time around!
Step 6: Deadhead regularly, especially after flowering
If you’re planning on using your peony as an ornamental in your landscape or garden, don’t forget that it is crucial to regularly deadhead the flowers. Once they finish blooming and seed production begins, this will cause a longer period of time before they will bloom again. Your goal should be to cut off any dead material right at its base when necessary, typically every four to six weeks.
It is also a good idea during times of active growth (spring and fall) in order for it not to impede the new buds from coming out. Also, remember to water plants consistently but make sure not to overwater them; if you have heavy clay soil, be careful about over-irrigating because this can lead to root rot.
Step 7: Secure against slugs and snails
Slugs and snails are a major problem for new plants. Serenade® is a fast-acting, odorless granular slug bait that kills slugs before they can harm your newly planted garden. Sprinkle the pellets around your plants and irrigate them in well. It will take a few weeks for this product to take effect. A molluscicide containing metaldehyde is also useful, but will require reapplication if heavy rain occurs;
Sluggo® is one such option that you might use against slugs and snails. It is another pellet that can be sprinkled in a broad circle around your plants (be sure not to get it on any of your blooms!). If all else fails and you have been invaded by these slimy creatures, try using natural remedies like beer traps or diatomaceous earth which kill slugs as they crawl over its sharp edges.
Paeonia lactiflora (milky way) is a gorgeous, late spring-blooming shrub in the peony family. Its canes are 1’1 in height and 4’3 in the spread, with a canopy of 3’3. The leaves are dark green and generally turn gold when autumn starts. The flowers start out white, then slowly fade to creamy yellow near the end of their flowering period. Pollinators love this plant because its flowers are symmetrical and it produces nectar from June-August that’s rich in sugars. I have found milky way shrubs growing mostly on hillsides or fields where there is plenty of suns but good drainage.
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