Peony Plant
Q.

Peonies mowed down to the ground

Zone Deerfield WI 53531 | Anonymous added on July 31, 2018 | Answered

Acquired a house with an established garden (near Madison, Wisc). Islands of hostas, irises and peonies scattered around the yard. They apparently were in the way of the mower so a lot were sheared down to ground level. Can they still be relocated and what are the chances they will bloom again? These peonies were absolutely beautiful...reds, pinks...fragrant. Please help! Thank you!

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MichiganDot
Answered on August 5, 2018

I started a reply 2 days ago and became so angry I quit. If your mower can't accommodate plant islands, you need a new company. It is inexcusable to mow plants. That said, on to your question. The plants will recover but I would be a fool to promise you that the peonies will bloom next year. They might! Use your misfortune to divide the iris - something that should be done every 3-4 years to keep them blooming well. Toss out old, large tubers that bloomed in the past. Iris tubers (actually rhizomes) only bloom once in a lifetime and then go on to make new tubers. That's why the blooming rhizome is called a mother. Time to throw mothers out and save the babies that have at least 3 leaves. Iris roots extend outward at least 6-9 inches so prepare planting holes that can accommodate straight out roots. Don't let them curl. (Cut them at 9 inches if you must.) Leave the top half of the rhizome above ground. Firm the soil well. They can be moved now. Water well the day before any transplantation. Leave the peonies where they are if you can. They've been severely traumatized; moving them adds more stress. They will likely set out new shoots now if you don't move them. Leaves help all plants survive winter by sending sugars down to the roots for storage in fall. Transplanting is best done in the dormant season, so after naturally leaf drop. (There are YouTube videos and, I think, Fine Gardening has a how-to video) The roots are thick but rather brittle and break easily. They extend outward more than downward. The key with peonies is setting them at the correct depth. In your cold climate, set the "eyes" 2 inches deep. Mulch the hosta and peonies really well this winter with shredded leaves, straw, or wood chips but not whole leaves. Pull the mulch back in early spring. You can move hostas now as long as they will be in shade and you keep them watered all the way through fall if rainfall is inadequate. Unless they dry out, roots of all plants keep growing until the ground, at root depth, freezes. Winter kill comes from roots drying out. Cold air is dry and plants lose moisture even through bark. If roots completely dry out, plants are likely to die. A dry fall, if you don't water your transplants, is a set-up for winter kill. Good luck. I apologize for the rant.

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