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Paeonia require well drained soils and deep fertile soils. Dig your hole about 18 inches by 18 inches and incorporate compost, or steer manure, or bonemeal into the soil.  Our soils typically are acidic so add a bit of lime to sweeten the soil.  Paeonia like 6.5 to 7pH. The next step is the most important. Plant your paeonia with the crown no more than 2 inches deep. Too deep and they will not bloom. Lots of foliage but no blooms will result. In the fall AFTER the foliage has turned brown, carefully cut the foliage to the ground. Be careful when performing this maintenance as the new buds for next year will have already formed just below the soil surface. Paeonia are mostly disease, insect and pest (moose) free but they do get botrytis. Cutting the foliage back in the fall, having plenty of air circulation around the plant and don’t overwater will deter this problem. If you do see any brown/grey fuzzy looking fungus on the plant, cut back to a disease free place on the plant. Botrytis will kill the plant if not tended. Paeonia are great for cut flowers with excellent vase life. They live 50 years plus so think seriously about where you plant them. I think of paeonia like roses without thorns. There are a myriad of varieties out there. At this date we have 8,000 paeonia in our fields. They bloom starting in July and go through September. You are welcome to visit the farm.

Why didn’t they bloom?

  1. Planting too deep is the major cause (too shallow would cause freezing and death). Peony should be planted about 1 ½ inches deep.
  2. They were cut back in the fall before foliage turned brown
  3. The soil is too wet. Too dry will do that too but here in Alaska it’s usually too wet. When you feel soils are dry, water deeply then let the soil go dry again before watering. We rarely water our peony and certainly never more than 3 times a season. Paeonia are drought tolerant.
  4. Too much nitrogen.
  5. Late frosts may kill the buds so no blooms-but don’t panic-the late frosts will not kill the plants. You’ll get another chance next year for blooms.
  6. Overfeeding. Paeonia are easy care and don’t require a lot of fertilizer after the initial planting.
  7. The clumps are old and the middle is starting to die off. They need to be divided.
  8. Immature plants. Paeonia won’t bloom when moved or first planted for a couple of years.

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Alaska Hardy Gardens
3800 Sterling Hwy., Homer, AK 99603
Phone: (907) 235-4969
Fax: (907) 782-4213

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