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Mowing Peonies

Clifton Hill, MO

Can I mow my peonies down now? I want to start a flower bed around them and it would be easier if I could mow them. I didn't know if you had to wait for a certain time or if it's ok since they have stopped blooming. Thanks!

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

You cant mow down Peonies even after flowering and expect them to give you a great show the following year.
I can only assume these Peonies are sitting in the middle of a grassed area so I'm surprised that they have flowered.

I can only give you the answers that I would do and the treatment I personally would cary out re these beautiful rewarding plants and maybe you wont like my views but I will try.

First of all I talk about the Peonies, these plants can live longer than us, give flowers every year and even when the flowers have passed there sell -by date, the beautiful foliage is well worth the trouble of owning them.
Peonies like to be planted with the fleshy tuber, (large) just resting under the top soil in no more, this tuber likes to be BAKED in the sunshine to give off the biggest and most colourful flowers,
They are greedy plants so when planted as mentioned, you need to dig a larger hole that you think, add loads of good home made compost or begged animal manure that has been well rotted down and has now no smell, when you handle the manure, it should feel like nice garden soil that falls through your fingers, This type of soil helps add air to the planting soil it helps hold onto some moisture yet allows the soil to drain easily while holding onto SOME (little ) moisture, it helps feed the large tubers and is a fine soil to allow the large well spread out roots from the tuber to hold the top growth steady, the top foliage is top heavy with the leaves but also the large flowers, you may have to add good support for the plants once the foliage pops through and reaches about 6 inches tall, then if you offer support it will be hidden as the plants grow and smother the plastic ring support or even soft twine tied to garden canes is better but, keep this tieing loose or you will break the soft foliage as it is tender when just breaking through.
You need to make sure you can reach the root area to give water as greedy plants like watering lots as in amount, not a wee water every day, better a good water every 4 days.
You should never cut off the foliage from tubers, bulbs , corms etc as the bulbs, tubers etc are really just like a store cupboard and therefore need the foliage to die down naturally, as this decomposting happens to the foliage, the goodness from this is taken back down to the tubers, bulbs etc to help them build up energy for the following years leaf and flowers to grow tall and strong, so please dont cut off the top growth untill it looks like wire or hard branches, then use a sharp knife etc to make a clean cut close to the tuber, leave about 2/3 inches of stem or, wait till early spring next year and snap off these dried stems CAREFULLY, they will break away with care.

Now talk about your border, you can dig out the Peonie tubers by placing your spade about a foot away from the tuber and taking the soil out with the tuber in tact, once the tuber has been lifted with a good bit of soil, try gently to shake, use fingers etc to remove some of the soil as you now want to replant the tubers into freshly bug, manured or general multi purpose feed added at the stipulated rate, you would be wise to have already made the NEW hole and added manure / compost made ready with the stakes etc ready at the same time.
I would be doing this type of transplanting at the end of summer once the tubers and foliage have died down however, sometimes we cant always wait for the best time, try do it in the coolest part of the day and make sure you water the tubers well every second day till they get over the transplant shock which believe me they will go into shock as most large plants do when moved to new areas.

As you clear away the area you intend to make into a flower border, I stick garden canes into the soil to show me where all my established plants will be re-plantd like Peonies, Roses, Delphiniums etc and the canes give me an idea of hight, space and depth to be able to place my best plants, then fill in the bare patches as I get the plants either from seed, friends hand me downs or garden center sales,
Plants / shrubs etc are not cheap so make a plan, make sure you add all your compost, manure, etc that your soil needs to feed, and support plants that will be there for many years as it is difficult to do that after planting, once you need to add more dressings, feeds etc it can be done as a top dressing and gently forked into the soil, I like doing this at autumn clear up or spring clean.

The first year you move you Peonies they may not flower but they will every year after transplant, just remember not to plant them too deep.
Well hope all this helps you out and you end up with a beautiful border next summer and believe me, ALL Peonies desrve the best spot in any border.
Good Luck, WeeNel.

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