Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Mother's Garden....

My garden is full of Peonies in every color as they might just be my favorite of all flowers. They are showy and smell like a sweet rose and make an exceptional cut flower. But be careful to remove the ants that are always attracted to the sweet natural secretions, before you bring them in. They do little, if any, harm to the plants themselves... they just like them as mu...ch as I do.

Peonies prefer cooler climate zones but they will actually grow anywhere they experience a cold winter, even as far south as northern Florida and Texas as long as there are at least a few cold weeks of weather.

Peonies require a great deal of sunshine, so plant them in full sun for a bounty of blooms. In areas where summer temperatures reach extreme levels, a light shade canopy during the hottest time of the day will benefit the plants.

The area must be free of standing water, as peonies rot quickly. They prefer a rich, heavy soil, so the key is to make sure that it is exceptionally well drained.

The best time to plant peonies is in the fall. A spring time planting may prevent the plant from blooming for a season or two. Choose a location carefully. Peonies don’t like to be moved, so you should consider your new peonies to be permanent residents and space them accordingly. Be ready to stake Peonies each season because their heavy blooms tend to make them lean over.

When the first flower buds appear, remove the side buds from each stem, leaving the end bud in place. This encourages show-stopping blooms. When plants grow heavy with blooms, stake behind the plant and secure plants with loops of coated wire.

Remove fading blooms to prevent seed development. Cut no more than ½ of the flowers for vases or display, and leave as much foliage on the plant as possible.

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