Greenwalks

Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Planting Peonies November 18, 2008

Filed under: flora,my garden — greenwalks @ 11:00 am
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I lied just a little bit when I said I’d finished planting all of the bulbs I got at the Arboretum sale. Well, I didn’t lie, really – I DID plant all the bulbs. It was just the corms that got the shaft. I had two daylies still languishing in their brown bags with no idea where to put them (I already have way too many daylilies, so why did I buy more??!), but it was the $9 peony that I really wanted to get into the ground before it was too late. Yeah, yeah, I know, they’re supposed to be planted in September or October to establish well before winter truly hits. But it’s been such a mild autumn here in Seattle that I am hoping to get away with it.

My great-aunts, fabulously industrious gardeners, had several varieties of gorgeous peonies that my mom inherited when the family farm was sold. They are still blooming strongly in her garden – those things must be 50 years old or more! I love their showy blooms and delicate fragrance, and the way the bumblebees just get their party on and roll around in the pollen.

I was super careful about ripping the tag with the peony’s name off the bag so I could post it here. Somehow, it didn’t make it indoors with me, so I apologize, it will remain a mystery. Haphazard gardening is my stock in trade, apparently. It’s kind of fun in a way to be so disorganized sometimes – I get to be surprised about what comes up in the spring! Honestly, there was no picture, so I don’t even know what color it will be. How’s that for lame?

I followed the planting instructions on the bag, making a 12″ X 12″ hole, filling it with mulch, mixing in fertilizer (probably the wrong kind, hope that didn’t matter too much), adding back some dirt, and propping up the corm. It was a little dried-out looking, hope it’s okay. It was showing a few little signs of life, so I guess I’ll just see what happens, if anything, in the spring.

Dry-lookin peony corm

Then I filled the hole with water, waited it for it to drain, and covered it all up with the rest of the dirt and a mulch layer on top.

While I was at it, I remembered that we have a previous-owner-installed peony plant that was poorly sited and had not bloomed once in the four summers we’ve been here. So, since I was in hole-digging mode, I decided to dig it up and find it another home. Boy, was I surprised by the size of the corm cluster – it was more like a tree stump!

Gigantic peony corm cluster

Man, that thing probably hadn’t been divided for a decade. No wonder it wasn’t blooming! Of course the smart thing to do would have been to put down the shovel, take off my gloves, go into the house, get out the gardening primers and read up on how best to divide peony corms. But did I? Nah. I just used the spade to hack it into pieces, tossed out the ones without eyes, and planted the rest around the backyard. More haphazard gardening! Don’t these look kinda scary? I think maybe I have a weird phobia about roots, at least a little bit. Ditto spiders.

Divided peonies

All that freshly dug dirt and smoothly layered mulch is probably going to be a magnet for you-know-who – even if he’s not after the peonies, I’ll have to replant them if he digs them up looking for tastier morsels, so I finished it all off with some squirts of witches’ brew and a dash of paprika.

Mulched and paprika'ed ground

The brew isn’t too stinky, but I’m playing it safe and keeping it outside, just in case it decides to ferment and explode…

I realize this post was heavy on the dirt/root pics, so to see lots of pretty photos of peonies in bloom, click here.

Anyone want to fess up to planting things a little on the late side this year? Or are you all patting yourselves on the back right now for being more timely and assiduous than I? If I helped you feel better either way, I’m glad. 🙂

Peony planting supplies

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7 Responses to “Planting Peonies”

  1. Curmudgeon Says:

    No back patting over here! We still have some daylilies sitting around that need to get in the ground. We’e with you on the hack job approach to dealing with roots, rhizomes, etc. Peonies are one of those flowers that I love–in other people’s yards. I get creeped out seeing all the ants on them.

  2. Megan Says:

    I just bought more on Sunday. Oops.

  3. Cynthia Says:

    I’ve never grown Peonies but will some day! They are just so beautiful. Can’t wait to watch yours grow through this blog. 🙂

  4. Kanak Says:

    Wow! That WAS heavy duty! But certain things sounded so much like me that it made me smile!!’ Haphazard gardening ‘ and ‘languishing in their brown bags’ !!

    I’ve never seen peonies here but whatever photos I’ve seen on Blotanical has bowled me over. It’ll be interesting to see your peony’s progress. All the best!

  5. I’ve never thought about my disorganization that way before, but you’re right – it can be fun! I’m always surprised at what comes up 🙂

  6. Martha Says:

    Well, some of the peonies were planted two weeks ago and some are still in the wheel barrow awaiting our finding a place for them.

    They are weird roots.

  7. Racquel Says:

    Well to be honest I didn’t plant the Ranunculus corms I bought on sale. They are hardy to zone 8 (I’m zone 7b) so I’m going to wait till spring. I may regret it, but our winters are so wet they may rot! Good luck with the Peonies, they can be quite forgiving I think. Can’t wait to see all your blooms next year! 🙂


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