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Video: Tree Peony
Favorite flower of Chinese emperors in your garden
Whoever has seen at least once this miracle, created by nature and improved by man, - a flowering tree peony bush, will never forget it.
No wonder he earned the honor of becoming the flower of the emperors of the Celestial Empire. There are many legends and stories about the tree peony. In one of the provinces of China, a 900-year-old bush still lives in the park. Every year, during flowering, pilgrims come to him, even from other countries, to bow and admire its beauty.
The tree peony is an ancient shrub or shrub native to China. Unlike the familiar herbaceous peony, its stems do not die off to the root collar, but persist and grow annually, while partially ligneous.
New leaf and flower buds appear on them every year. The foliage and the bush itself are very decorative, but the flowers are especially luxurious - huge bowls or balls up to 25 cm in diameter.
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Natural species of this peony are cold-resistant. However, over the two-plus centuries that the peony has been cultivated in Europe, it has lost some of this valuable quality, because it was constantly cared for and cherished, loved and undead. It has undergone many complex hybrid crosses, thanks to which it has become a beauty miracle with flowers of various colors and shapes, sizes and aromas. This miracle blooms in our area in the second half of May, when the lilac blooms. First, non-double varieties bloom, after a few days - double, and after a couple of weeks the yellow peony blooms. The flowering time of one bush is 12-14 days, ie. not for long, but it happens very brightly, giving us an ocean of delight, beauty and divine aroma.
We buy peony seedlings
Now bushes have appeared on sale, they are usually brought from abroad, in closed packaging. These are, as a rule, herbaceous cuttings grafted onto pieces of a peony root - shoots with two eyes. From private traders or in a nursery, and now - in stores, you can buy cuttings or bushes grown in our more severe conditions.
These options are preferable, because foreign bushes that grew in a milder climate are more difficult to take root in our country and get sick more often. The main criteria for assessing the quality of seedlings are the strength of the root system and the presence of healthy buds at the base of the shoot. In general, you need to choose a bush that is stronger and without signs of disease, i.e. free from spots, mold, dried shoot tips, etc.
In winter, it is better not to buy bushes, because they are difficult to preserve at home until spring. For bushes purchased in the spring, before planting, you need to examine the root system, if possible. If the roots are dry, you will have to submerge them for half an hour in water, to which growth substance is added - ribav, zircon, energetic, etc., and then immediately plant them in the soil. Of course, a lot here depends on the quality of the vaccine and on the variety.
In any case, when planting the acquired bush in place, you need to be prepared for the fact that in the first year it will be sick, have a dying look, grow poorly, and sometimes all the shoots may seem dried out. No need to despair: by the end of summer, new shoots can grow from the adventitious buds at the base of the stems. It will be a reward for attention. A good option is to get a seedling grown from seed. True, it will bloom in 4–5 years, but such a plant adapts better to our conditions. Trying to grow seedlings from seeds yourself is possible only in the only case, if you are sure that the seeds are completely fresh.
Peony planting rules
It is advisable to plant the bushes immediately to a permanent place, because they are difficult to take root, and do not like transplants. Not only the decorativeness of the bush, but also the duration of its life depends on the correct planting. After all, the tree peony is a long-lived plant, it can grow in one place for more than one hundred years.
The following rules and conditions of planting are mandatory:
- In our region, the bushes should be planted in a sunny place. The sun should illuminate the bushes for 5-6 hours a day, preferably in the morning. It is better to shade the bushes from the daytime sun so that the flowers do not fade. The best option is a light openwork partial shade. Peonies do not bloom in the shade.
- In the southern part of our region, bushes should not be planted in the warmest part of the site, because the plants begin to grow early, and late return frosts can destroy them if it was not possible to cover them in time.
- The groundwater level is at least 2 m, otherwise you will have to make a loose mound for planting. In damp places, the bushes will quickly die. In the spring, water should not stagnate near the bushes. It needs drainage and water drainage.
- Do not plant bushes in the root zone of trees and bushes.
- Windy places are categorically contraindicated: bushes quickly die.
- Acidic soils are unacceptable. They must be neutral or alkaline.
- When planting, the root collar must be placed strictly at the level of the soil, otherwise the bush grows poorly.
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In the homeland of the tree peony, in China, the time of transplantation is the day of the autumn equinox, plus or minus one day, and this time is sacredly observed there. For us, this period is risky, because the plant may not have time to take root before the sudden arrival of winter. Therefore, it is better to plant earlier - from mid-August to early September, when the plant is about to go into hibernation. However, given our unpredictable autumn and winter weather conditions, early spring is considered a more reliable time, as soon as the soil is ripe.
In our region, the soil is not at all suitable for growing tree-like peonies, so we have to prepare special planting holes, which are filled with soil with the desired properties.
The planting hole is prepared 2-4 weeks before planting so that the soil settles. The root system of peonies is loose, it can spread in all directions far beyond the crown projection, so a large planting pit is required. Usually for adult plants it is made in the form of a cone with a diameter of 80 cm at the top and 40 cm along the bottom of the pit. At the bottom there is drainage 20 cm thick. If the soil is clayey, drainage from it is required.
The soil in the entire layer of root habitat should be loose, not too dry and not too wet, very nutritious and necessarily non-acidic. The best acidity is pH 6–6.5. The pit is filled with a mixture of equal parts of black peat, well-rotted leaf compost, ordinary garden soil and sand. From fertilizers add bone meal - 200-400 g and fertilizer like Kemira. You can try fertilizer AVA - 2 teaspoons per pit (there is no experience with using this fertilizer yet). The hole for a neighboring bush should be no closer than one and a half meters.
Plants of the tree peony are quite drought-resistant. Water them as needed. In August, watering is stopped so that the wood has time to ripen by winter.
All top dressing is done, starting from 2-3 years, do not give dressings in the year of planting. In April, when the snow begins to melt, you need to feed the bushes with full mineral fertilizer with a predominance of phosphorus, because the plant, waking up, immediately begins to prepare for flowering. Can be fed in the snow. Two weeks later, they give a second top dressing - a fertilizer like Kemira - it is embedded in the soil. This feeding will affect the size of the flowers. The third top dressing is given two weeks after the end of flowering - with phosphorus fertilizers. It will affect frost resistance, the number of shoots and flowers in the next year. During the entire growing season, you can feed the plants with ash, be sure to loosen the soil around the bush. In the fall, you need to do deep loosening.
In the spring, you need to cut off old and weakened shoots every year. Usually old shoots are removed to the growth bud at the bottom of the shoot, which is clearly visible in spring. Weak shoots are shortened to 10–20 cm from the ground. After flowering, dried flowers should be removed to prevent seed set. During the budding period, it is useful to remove a third of the buds, then the flowers will be larger. If the bush has been transplanted or has just been planted, then in the first year after transplanting it should not be allowed to bloom and the buds should not be removed.
In the conditions of our region, tree peonies most often die due to diseases of gray rot. The disease is facilitated by violations of the rules of care, damp places, overfeeding with nitrogen fertilizers, fresh manure, lack of trace elements, acidic soils, etc. Gray rot on the leaves is brown spots, wilted and rotten buds, on the stems - a yellow-white bloom at the base of the stems. Fighting the disease is difficult. First of all, you need to immediately remove the causes of the disease. And only then use the drugs. It is easier to prevent the disease, regularly view the bushes, paying attention to every small speck.
Preparing a peony for winter
Often, young shoots do not have time to woody, in winter they can freeze slightly. There are several methods to accelerate the ripening of shoots.
For example, starting from August, the plants are not watered. Another technique was suggested by our botanist Andrey Knyazev: in October, you need to shorten the leaf blades by 2/3 in order to accelerate the ripening of the shoots of the current year and thereby increase their frost resistance. In early October, you need to mulch the trunk circle with peat or a mixture of peat with humus. The same should be done with the bush planted this year.
To prevent frosting of the apical buds, plants need to be covered with spruce branches or several layers of covering material.