One of the easiest perennials to grow, the fern leaf peony is marked by its finely divided, fernlike leaves. When in bloom, this popular plant produces single, dark red petals. Peonies are perennial plants, rising form the ground each spring from thick roots. These plants are striking as they appear from beneath the earth in the spring and make excellent show pieces in a garden. Peonies also tend to be long lived; if they are cared for in the right way, your plants might even outlive you. Hundred-year-old specimens are common.
You can plant your peony in a pot or directly in the landscape. When planting in a pot, position the plant no more than two inches below the surface of the soil. Your potting soil should be of high quality; the plant is worth the investment. Make sure to pack the potting soil tightly around the root, and water. You should do your potting in the winter and place the pot in a well-drained winter storage site so in the spring you will be ready to transplant the peony to your landscape site. When planting in your garden, make sure to choose a well-drained spot with either full sun or light shade, though light afternoon shade is preferable. Peonies respond to slightly acidic soil and, when you dig your hole, you’ll want to include a healthy dose of fertilizer, bonemeal or other organic matter. As a rule, do not plant your peony too deep; two inches below ground level is fine.
Once your peony has been properly planted, this hearty plant should flourish. Watering is important during dry seasons, but you don’t want to overwater. The soil around a peony should never become waterlogged. Once your peony is established, consider adding a top-dressing of fertilizer to help your plant grow. To reduce the chance of disease, you’ll want to prune dying foliage in the fall, and, when the plant is in full bloom, you’ll want to consider staking for support, and make sure to remove flowers as they fade. You can also plant fern peonies by dividing an adult plant.
Fern peonies are suspectible to Botrytis blight. This blight is caused by a fungus that makes the stems and buds wilt. Damp conditions encourage this disease. For easy prevention, plant your peonies more than three feet apart for better circulation, and make sure to water the roots, not the leaves. These simple steps should keep your plant healthy. For a longer life, avoid excess water, overfertilization or planting too deeply, and make sure to check for rodent damage–mice are fond of peonies.