I think peonies every month of the year - dividing, planting, tilling, fertilizing, lusting after, cutting, arranging, storing, shipping, weeding, hoeing, ordering more; well, the list goes on and on.
This July I keep the potted peony plants watered more often than usual with afternoon temperatures in the high 80's to high 90's. I like to have just a bit of moisture in my container peonies between waterings. I water them heavy one day; and lightly the next day or two - it's working out perfectly.
If you wait until you see plant leaves stressed and wilting, then you are at the cusp of having waited too long. Some plants are a bit forgiving, like peonies. The size of the container and the type of potting soil determines how often and how much water to give. Check to see that there is some moisture in the container.
Our field peonies are getting a bit of water, too. The baby peonies always need a bit more attention with water; although the old cutting stock only needs a drink now and then.
Track the weather with your peony plants. You can compare the weather from year to year if you track the date seed pods crack open on a particular variety; or, when the foliage starts looking raggedy. The plants here are still vibrant and green; although the early species peonies are already showing off their ripe seed. One more thing to do - collect that seed.
I have seen foliage die back early some summers - particularly if they bloomed earlier than usual in the spring. Don't panic if you experience that - they are just going dormant earlier, too. The roots will still be healthy and viable for next springs' blooms. You can trim the stems down anytime they start to look raggedy.
When it's too hot to tend our fields and gardens in July's afternoon heat, it's the perfect time to browse online peony catalogs for your next beauties. After all, peony root shipping is just weeks away. Can you believe that? We've recently updated our peony catalog with a few additions including Paeonia officinalis 'Alba Plena' and 'Frances Willard'.
Oh, one more thing - I still have a bucket of peony flowers in a refrigerator. I open it up now and then to take a peak (and cool down). Shockingly, they are still gorgeous. With any luck at all, I will have a vase of blooms for an August 5th family gathering. They were cut prior to the American Peony Society floral exhibit in May. How's that for peonies in July?