Caring for Tree Peony

Caring for Tree Peony
JanuaryTree Peony – No activity this month
FebruaryTree Peony – No activity this month
MarchTree Peony – In the early spring pull the layer of winter mulch back from the base of the plant exposing new growth that can form at the base of the plant.
Tree peonies do not require routine pruning in its first 8 to 10 years. Occasionally it may be necessary to prune out a broken stem, or cut back somewhat one that is overlong. In the rare event that the shrub sends out a sucker from its root, clip that off below the soil level.
Older tree peonies can develop too many stems reducing air circulation. Prune those new shoots that are not needed to keep the plant looking full and balanced.
AprilTree Peony - Optional - Unlike with most ornamental plants, it is neither necessary nor desirable to feed tree peonies regularly. Too much nitrogen only encourages vegetative growth to the detriment of bloom. Instead a light sprinkling of a slow-release phosphorous based fertilizer, or bone meal, scratched into the soil under the shrub just after it blooms is sufficient. If the soil is rich and fertile, no special fertilizing is necessary.
MayTree Peony - Tree Peony blossoms are dramatic additions to indoor arrangements. Cut blossoms early in the morning. For live bouquets choose blooms that are just beginning to open. Cut stems with a sharp knife and plunge them into warm water immediately. Allow the stems to take up water for several hours, then cut an inch more off of each stem and arrange them in their vase. To prolong bloom add an equal proportion of some citrus based (not diet) soda to the water in the vase. For dried bouquets, choose blooms nearly fully open and cut stems as long as possible without distorting the shape of the shrub. Hang the blooms upside down by their stems in a dry warm place for 3 to 4 weeks.
Optional - For appearances it is helpful to clip off spent blossoms, but if you choose not to do so, no harm is done.
JuneTree Peony - Outside the warmer southern regions well established shrubs do not require supplemental watering, even if it is somewhat droughty. If watering is begun during times of sparse rain, it must be continued on a regular basis until rainfall resumes.
JulyTree Peony - A 2 to 3 inch layer of some attractive organic material such as chopped leaves, wood chips or shredded bark is beneficial to tree peonies. Spread on the soil under the shrub, this mulch discourages weeds, blocks evaporation of moisture and slowly enriches it.
AugustTree Peony – September is best time to plant tree peonies. Because they really prefer well drained soil, folks with clay or compacted soil situations may want to build a raised bed this month to be ready for the plant of the peonies next month.
SeptemberTree Peony – Newly transplanted tree peony shrubs benefit from watering, especially if rainfall is scarce. But be careful not to overdo; especially if your soil does not drain very very well.
OctoberTree Peony – Optional – Tree peony leaves begin to look pretty skraggely by frost time, especially if there has been any fungal disease problems during the season. Some yardeners will prune the leaves off the plant all at once and clean up the fallen leaves lying on the ground. Do Not Prune Woody Parts. Just prune the leave stems which are green. If you prune the woody parts you will be pruning off the flower buds.
NovemberTree Peony – In most areas of the country you will want to insure that the plants have their 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant to protect the roots from heaving during the winter. Keep the mulch back from the stems until hard freeze to avoid any mice problems.
Optional - In climates where winters are severe, tree peonies may need some protection. Stake the woody main stem after the leaves fall and before hard frost. Although snow, itself, is a good insulator, often if it is deep enough to cover the shrub, it may heavy enough to snap off stems. Instead, erect a circle of wire fencing, burlap or polyspun white agricultural fabric filled with straw, chopped leaves or other mulch to wrap or screen bare tree peony stems from drifts, wind and ice. Never use plastic.
DecemberTree Peony – No activity this month

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