Peonies are sprouting now!
The peonies here in Oregon are sprouting like crazy – a few early varieties are over a foot tall, while late varieties are just barely poking through the soil. I love the look of the new, tender leaves on peony plants. Get’s me excitedly anticipating the arrival of bloom season in May.
We have some Paeonia tenuifolia ‘rubra plena’ (dainty, finely cut fern leaf peony plants) that are budded and could be our earliest bloomers in the next couple of weeks. A couple of ‘Athena’ peony buds are showing a sliver of color; but, I have seen peonies sit like that for weeks if the weather is cool. Generally our Paeonia mlokosewitschii species peonies bloom around April 15th, so I gage their blooming to get an indication of where we are with each springs’ growing season. One year everything was growing fabulously and then just stalled for several weeks because it was so cool.
Now is a good time to fertilize your peonies in the northwest, if you haven’t already done so. If you are still winter-cold in your area, you may need to wait a few weeks. Remember – fertilizer is not always needed on garden peonies – if you have been raising them without fertilizer and are getting a good result, that’s terrific. Other folks fertilize each year, depending upon their soil nutrients. We have some information on fertilizing under our 'Planting & Care of Peonies' tab on the website.
We usually don’t have a shortage of slugs in this part of the country; they can find peonies, iris and other plants appetizing, so keep an eye out and control them early if that is a problem for you. In wet springs, spraying peonies with a fungicide labeled for peonies will keep leaf spot (botrytis) at bay – follow the label recommendations for application rates and how often to spray. There are a number of fungicides, including organic fungicides to select from. Then, watch those peonies grow.
These photos show the various colors of new growth on different peony varieties: P. tenuifolia ‘rubra plena’ - the fine fern leaf peony; the green and bronze leaves on Sugar ‘n Spice peony; and the reddish sprouts of Chief Black Hawk (Intersectional) peony. Photos taken today.