Cutting Back Peonies : When And How
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Herbaceous peonies naturally shed their leaves in the autumn and then reappear in the spring. The dead stems are cut back to the ground once a year, in the autumn, when the first frost has killed the leaves. Insect and disease damage to the plant is prevented at this time by pruning down, and the garden grounds are cleared to maintain a tidy appearance. End-of-season pruning is simple to perform and is essential for keeping the plant healthy for upcoming growing seasons.
Cutting Back Peonies
Peonies are typically pruned back for plant health reasons in addition to cosmetic ones. During the growing season, diseased foliage should be removed, and when the growing season has ended in the autumn, the entire plant should be pruned down.
Deadheading, which is the practise of removing the wasted flowers after the bloom, is not the same as cutting back peonies. If the blooms are left on the plants, they will produce seeds rather than storing all of the plant’s energy in the roots, ensuring the health of the plant and the bloom of the following year. No matter how much you prune the flower stalks, nothing will change. However, it is recommended to clip them below the leaves so they don’t protrude out for a neater appearance. Itoh peonies, which bloom later than garden peonies but are deadheaded the same way, benefit from deadheading as well.
Removing Flower Buds
The bloom buds on newly planted peonies should be completely removed before they open the first spring. Not all gardeners who are eager to see the peonies bloom are ready to make that compromise. However, delaying the peonies’ flowering in the first year after planting aids in the establishment of the plants, and the payoff is a bigger bloom in the following years.
Pruning to Control Disease
The peony leaf blotch and powdery mildew are two typical fungi that affect peonies. Both types of fungi’s spores persist during the winter in decaying leaves and plant matter that has been infected. Cutting back sick plant portions during the growing season and throwing the plant waste in the garbage are examples of good sanitation practises that help to stop the spread of illness.
Blotches on the leaves of peonies are brought on by the fungus Cladosporium paeoniae. It is appropriately also known as measles or red spot because to the typical glossy purple or brown spots or blotches on the upper surface of the leaves. Older, larger leaves may also become deformed as the season goes on, and the stems may have reddish-brown streaks.
Powdery mildew is the other fungal disease that affects peony. Powdery mildew is a disease that affects plants, but its chalky deposit on the leaves is more of an eye irritant unless it is severe. Cut off infected leaves and gather any contaminated leaves that have fallen to the ground to stop reinfection if you want to keep it under control.
When removing unhealthy leaves from a tree, keep a pail with nine parts water and one part chlorine bleach ready to clean your pruners. To avoid spreading the fungus spores from plant to plant, dip them in the mixture and then wipe them dry with a clean rag.
Peonies’ susceptibility to fungal disease can also be exacerbated by poor air circulation combined with moisture accumulation. It’s a good idea to thin the foliage of your peonies if it’s healthy but extremely dense in order to let more air and sunlight in.
When To Cut Back Peonies
Peonies in warmer climates will flower earlier than those in cooler climates, so check your USDA plant hardiness zone to determine when to prune them. Depending on the cultivar, peonies can be cultivated in zones 3-9. It may be tempting to prune peonies right afterward as the leaves begin to wilt, but you should wait until fall to do so. Because the plants are still reliant on their energy for the following year’s growth, removing them too soon may impair next year’s flowers.
When autumn arrives and the peonies’ leaves turn yellow or brown, it’s time to cut them. Reduce them to approximately 1 inch (2.5cm). If the plant is badly injured or overgrown, cut it as near to the ground as possible. You can also prune healthy branches that contact, removing the less developed branch with fewer buds.
How to Cut Back Peonies
After a heavy frost, cut the stems at or near ground level. Remove all plant detritus and dead foliage, whether or not the peonies have been affected with a disease. Dead leaves may contain fungal spores that are invisible to the naked eye. If the plants were infected, dispose of them in the garbage rather than composting them.
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