With the Royal Wedding fast approaching, peonies are the bloom of the moment. As soon-to-be royal Meghan Markle’s favourite flower, the beautiful, often fragrant, globe-like flowers, are a gorgeous addition to any garden, and provide a home-grown source of cut flowers throughout the summer.
Here, Louise Golden, Dobbie’s senior plant expert, gives her top tips on how to grow pretty peonies:
- Look for a sunny or partially shaded spot in your garden to plant your peonies that is protected from the early morning sun. While they’ll survive in almost any kind of soil, they appreciate a rich, moist but well-draining position. Once settled they resent being disturbed so be sure to choose a permanent spot.
- Be sure not to plant your peony too deeply as this can affect flowering. Keep them shallow, between 2cm and 5cm below the surface. Incorporate plenty of organic matter such as garden compost into the planting hole together with bonemeal to get them off to the best possible start. Top dress with mulch to retain moisture and keep competing weeds at bay.
- Mulch annually with a thick layer of mulch in April, just as the new growth buds are starting to show. Gently fork bonemeal into the soil surface for an extra boost.
- It can take up to three summers for peonies to bloom to their full potential, but from thereon these long lived, much loved hardy plants will flower prolifically year after year.
- Keep an eye on them as they grow – the huge flamboyant blooms can sometimes become too heavy for their stems, so you might have to support the flower heads by using stakes.
- For big peony bushes, it is worth investing in a strong metal peony cone. Slotted into place at the start of the season, foliage and flowers will be supported in windy and rainy conditions and the metal frame will soon be hidden by the strongly growing foliage. Attractive in their own right, ornamental peony cones make structural garden features during the winter months.
- If your peony plant starts to overfill its allotted space, it’s really easy to divide them up to put elsewhere in the garden, or share with a friend for their garden. In early autumn, dig around the roots and carefully lift the plant out. Split the plant, making sure each section has a lot of roots and at least three ‘eyes’, before re-planting. Firm into place and water well to be sure the soil has settled back around the roots.
- When your peonies have finished flowering, remove faded blooms, leaving the attractive glossy green foliage in place until it dies down in autumn. Cut them back to around 2.5cm from the ground. This is best done at the end of October or early November.
And don’t worry if you’re planning on moving house, simply dig around the roots carefully and take them with you to pop in your new garden and keep on blooming!
Blooming with inspiration, Dobbies has collaborated with leading stylist and author Selina Lake to bring you a whole host of gorgeous styling ideas, all using the soon to be reigning flowers of the wedding season. From sophisticated centrepieces to bridal flower crowns, create flourishing picture-perfect displays with the great British blooms of the moment.
To find your local Dobbies Garden Centres store and browse the online range, visit www.dobbies.com.
Tagged in Gardening Tips