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How to Care for Peonies in Southwest Virginia


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Perennials bring beauty to your garden year after year with the proper care. Peonies in southwest Virginia are perennials that require little effort to produce a colorful show in the spring of pink, red, white and yellow blooms. A small amount of care will result in an attractive garden or border lasting many years. Peonies grown in warm areas like southwest Virginia, benefit from more shade than those grown in cooler climates.

Difficulty:
Moderate

Instructions

Things You’ll Need
  • High-phosphorus fertilizer
  • Compost
  • Mulch

Care When Planting

  1. Prepare the soil by digging and loosening about one foot down. Break up any clumps and remove all roots and rocks from the soil.
  2. Mix compost into the soil. The amount of compost should be equal to the amount of soil. This will properly prepare the soil, especially if the soil is heavy or clay-based.
  3. Work a high-phosphorus fertilizer into the soil for the planting. A good fertilizer would be a 3-15-2 blend. Allow the soil time to settle, about three days, before planting your peonies.
  4. Plant the peonies in southwest Virginia so that the tips of the buds (eyes) are one inch from the top of the soil. If planted too deep, they will not get the cold temperatures needed in the winter. Handle the peonies carefully as buds break off easily. Planting is best done in the fall.

Care in the Garden

  1. Fertilize in the spring, use a general fertilizer labeled for use on perennials and scratch a small amount—1/2 cup—into the soil around the plant. Sandy soils need this more than richer soils.
  2. Mulch around the plants in the spring. This will maintain a good moisture level in the soil.
  3. Allow some leaves to remain on the stem when cutting blooms for show as leaves are essential for the peony to make food reserves. Blooms should only be cut from plants 3 years old and older. Younger plants must mature before blooms are cut. Otherwise they will cease to bloom.
  4. Divide the peony root every 10 years to prevent crowding. The divided section may be planted to begin a new plant. This is best when done in the fall.

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