QUICK REFERENCE PLANTING GUIDE
1. Light/Sun Exposure - Full to partial sun.
2. USDA Hardiness Zones - 3 to 8.
3. Planting Distance - 2 to 3 feet apart.
4. Mature Height/Spread - 2 to 4 feet tall with a similar spread.
5. Bloom Time - Late spring to early summer -starting the 2nd or 3rd year after planting.
6. Planting Instructions - Dig a hole slightly larger than your peony root. (See illustration above). Position the root so that the pink buds (eyes) will be between one and two inches below ground level (if planted too deeply your peonies will not flower). Fill in the hole with soil to the level of the buds, carefully packing soil around the root with your fingers. Be careful not to damage the tender pink eyes. Water thoroughly.
GET THE MOST ENJOYMENT
Peonies provide masses of flowers in late spring to early summer, as well as beautiful green foliage throughout the growing season, year after year with only a minimum amount of care. Plus they will live for generations. They are excellent for planting in open spaces among shrubs, as a backdrop for low-growing flowers in your perennial bed, along foundations or fences and even as a low-growing hedge along walks or driveways.
Once planted, your peonies can be left to grow undisturbed indefinitely. Don't be disappointed, however, if some of your peonies fail to bloom the first year and have only a few blossoms the second season. When they do bloom, be sure to remove spent flowers to keep a neat and tidy appearance. It usually takes three years for a peony to attain mature blooming size.
Although these plants will perform well in average garden soils of all types, we recommend having your soil tested periodically by the local County Extension Office. These tests can determine if the soil needs any amendments to enhance your plants' growth and performance. See below for our recommended practice to improve your soil without any additional testing:
1. Spade or till the soil to a depth of 12-18 inches.
2. To provide nutrients and improve drainage, add organic matter to your soil by mixing in a 2 to 4-inch layer of dehydrated manure, garden compost, shredded leaves, and/or peat moss.
3. After active growth begins, periodically feed with Cottage Farms' water soluble Carefree Bud-N-Flower Booster. Plants in containers need more frequent watering and feeding, especially when in active growth and bloom.
Water - Your plants require 1" of rainfall (or equivalent watering) each week when planted in the ground. Do not allow plants in containers to dry out. In a container that is exposed to full sun, water it well at least once every other day, and possibly every day, during periods of intense summer heat. You may wish to temporarily move containerized plants to an area where they are shielded from the hot summer sun (i.e. in the shade of a tree, on a porch near an overhang).
Mulching - Apply a 2-4 inch layer of shredded bark, compost or other organic mulch around your plants to promote moisture retention, maintain even soil temperatures, and to discourage weed growth.
Weeding - Keep the area around your plants free of weeds. Weeds compete with other plants for food, water and light. Walk around the garden periodically and pull weeds, including the roots, as soon as you see them.
Grooming - Clip off dead or unsightly growth to maintain attractive form and shape. Deadhead or remove flowers when blooms have faded, leaving as much foliage as possible. As long as the foliage remains green it will gather sunlight and transmit energy into the root system for the following growing season.
Feeding - Feed your plants once every 2-3 weeks during the growing season with a water-soluble fertilizer such as Cottage Farms' Carefree Bud-N-Flower Booster. Discontinue feeding after September 1st so your plants can harden off for winter dormancy. Resume fertilizing when new growth appears in the spring.
Winterizing - After frost has blackened the foliage of your perennials, cut to ground level and discard all foliage. For the first winter, a 4 to 6 inch layer of mulch such as shredded leaves should be placed over your peony bed after the ground has frozen to prevent roots from being heaved out of the ground by alternate freezing and thawing. Be sure to remove this mulch as soon as danger of late spring frost is past. Once your peonies are established, annual winter mulching is not necessary.
For container planting, move plants next to your home's southern foundation for added warmth and protection. They may also be moved into an unheated, protected area such as a garage or cellar. If moved to a protected area be sure you water them well once every 2 to 3 weeks and water as needed.
In spring, remove mulch from in-ground plantings and remove any dead or damaged parts on any plants. Also, bring containerized plants back out into the garden sunlight where they will immediately begin to repeat their yearly garden performance.
CAUTION: Not all plant material is edible. Though most plants are harmless, some contain toxic substances which can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, or other discomforts. As a general rule, only known food products should be eaten. In case of ingestion, please contact your local poison control center at once and advise them of the plant ingested. Keep out of reach of children.