Peony plants provide a beautiful flower and strong fragrance wrapped into one package. The tightly wound bloom of the peony appears in the late spring. Peonies originated in China and produce foliage that grows to a height of 3 to 4 feet. Peonies prefer full sun locations but tolerate partial shade locations after established. Peonies do not tolerate transplant well, so carefully select a location to allow the plant to thrive undisturbed in the landscape.
Add organic amendments such as peat moss, manure or compost to the peony planting site. Although peonies will grow in heavier clay soils, including amendments boosts the health of the plant. An organic soil base promotes good production of flowers and increased blooms.
Ants sometimes appear on the large blossoms of the peony plant. This isn't an infestation of ants who've chosen to eat the blossom itself. These insects are munching on the nectar produced by the flower. When cutting flowers for use indoors, tip the flower upside down and gently shake it to remove any ants. A light spray of water at the kitchen sink will remove any additional bugs.
Peony plants prefer to be disturbed as little as possible, so select the perfect location before planting. Choose a site featuring full sun or light dappled shade. Peonies will not produce good quantities of large fragrant blooms in shady locations. Plant peonies in the fall by digging 12-inch deep holes to accommodate larger-rooted plants. Examine the roots for red-colored nubs and plant the peony to position these eyes 1 to 2 inches beneath the soil surface. Fill in around the plant carefully with amended soil and add a mulch layer to keep soil cool.
Stake peonies in the late spring after flowers begin appearing. Peony flowers are quite large and will bend stems with the weight of the blooms. Use soft rag strips or cushioned wire to protect stems.
If you notice a lack of flowers on the peony, a number of issues need to be addressed. The roots may be positioned too deeply due to added mulch layers and accumulations of organic matter over time. Check surrounding tree canopies and plants to evaluate available sunlight. Excessive amounts of nitrogen may also cause diminished blooms.
Peonies benefit from a yearly application of low-nitrogen fertilizer. Select a water-soluble, 5-10-5 fertilizer to apply around the plant when new stems reach 3 inches in height. Limit the application of nitrogen-based fertilizer to this specific type of fertilizer. Fertilizer packages list ingredients in a three-number code manner to reference the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as a percentage of nutrients contained in the package.