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South Dakota Home Garden: Peonies
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Hi, I'm Erik with Landscape Garden Centers and today we're going to talk about peonies.  There are basically three different types of peonies. We have tree peonies, the intersectional peonies and herbaceous peonies. The differences between them, the tree peony is going to get about six feet tall.  Herbaceous peonies, basically, are going to grow from the ground every year, but they're also going to die back to the ground every year.  They also bloom earlier.  The intersectional peony will grow to about the same height as a herbaceous peony, but they will only be dying back to about four to six inches. 

There's many different varieties of this popular plant.  The awesome part about peonies, they live forever.  In some instances, peonies will grow over 100 years old.  The funny thing about it is, they will grow in the same spot for 100 years, and that's the best part of it.  You can find a really nice peony that has been growing in a certain area and you can actually divide that peony.  Then you could take that, move it and plant somewhere else.


The main thing with transplanting peonies is making sure that you keep in mind whatever depth it was planted initially.  You need to maintain that depth wherever you're moving to.  The interesting thing about peonies is that they want full sun.  When I say full sun, they want actually more than just full sun, they need about six to eight hours.  Six to eight hours of light is going to give your peony the opportunity to produce the most blooms or buds.  When you have the most blooms or buds, it just turns out to be a gorgeous, gorgeous plant.


Peonies are really unique from the standpoint is that they're not cheap to buy.  Peonies are not propagated.  They're basically grown from the tubers, and the tubers take a long time to grow.  You need to have a certain number of tubers in order for them to continue to grow.  A nursery will actually hold onto peonies for about three years before they're actually ready to be planted or put in a pot like these and then sold to the public.  So, there's a lot of investment of time and effort put into these plants in order to make them ready for the public.


Some other interesting facts about peonies is that their buds will be ready to explode.  They'll be producing nectar and a lot of people will see ants on their peonies and they think, “Oh no, I'm being invaded by ants,” or this is a bad thing.  No, in this case, the ants are really good.  Ants are actually collecting the honeydew, or the nectar.  They're protecting the plant from other pests.  My theory is that the ants protect the plant because the plant is producing food.  The ants protect the plant because it's a food producer.  So basically, if anything else comes into there, it takes out the insect. Ants are a beneficial insect for the peony, and that's why you do not want be killing the ants off around your peonies.


Something to consider is after your peonies are done blooming is to actually remove the seed head. Then, the effort is put into the foliage, into the root system rather than into the seed heads.


There are many, many different colors.  You can get them in white, pink, purple, white and yellow, yellow and white.  There's just a huge amount of variation of the different peonies and different colors.  The ones that you probably see the most of are probably white, more solid colors.  Those are the peonies that have been around for a long time.


With peonies, as far as fertilization goes is we do not want too much fertilization and you don't want to put too little.  Basically, just a standard 10-10-10 or something that you use once in a while. You can put that around the plant. The one thing you don't want to do is put too much fertilizer in it.


So basically, it comes down to this, if your plant has been looking good and putting out blossoms, ignore it and enjoy it.