I've been blogging quite a lot about gardeing lately. It's that time of year: cleaning beds and clearing debris, adding pine straw and sowing seeds. Springtime in Georgia brings a lot of pollen, and yellow dust is EVERYWHERE. Because of the pollen, painting projects are on hold for another week, so I thought I'd share how I staked the fast growing peonies this morning.
I was lucky enough to find bamboo stakes at Lowe's one day before the state ordered lock down due to the Coronavirus outbreak. I don't mind sheltering at home, since I'm a homebody in spirit. It's helped me to check off my on-going To Do List, so I look at that as a positive.
Peonies produce enormously heavy blossoms, particularly the double varieties. The weight of all the peony blossoms require some early intervention to prevent them from weighing to the ground.
Step 1: Push several stakes in and around the shrub. I keep mine away from the edge of the shrub so it's less noticeable. These are trimmed later, so ignore the height of the stakes.
Here you can see the buds emerging. There are up to 5 buds per stem, so I'm very excited to cut and arrange them throughout the house.
Do you see ants on your peonies? That's a good thing! Peonies secrete a sweet nectar that draw ants to the buds. The ants climb throughout the shrub, eating problematic insects along the way. To remove the ants, dip the buds in warm water before bringing them into the house.
Watch the ants in their element on this video.
Step 2: After I've inserted the stakes, I run my green garden tape around a stake and then weave it throughout the shrub, making sure the stems with buds are caught within the tape. I'll continue weaving, circling the next stake, back around more stems, until I've created a "web" around the entire shrub. I tie off the tape at the last stake.
After weaving throughout the entire plant, I'll tuck the green tape under leaves to help conceal it. In the past I've used twine and it can be less noticeable, but I'm happy with how this turned out. Once the buds bloom I'll never see the tape. Remember, the flowers are enormous!
Step 3: I'll go back and cut the bamboo stakes to conceal them as well. Look! You can see the pollen dust on the shears!
Ants are all over these buds!
Here is a nearby peony shrub. I noticed to the left there is a red ant mound. You don't want red ants on your peonies. I sprinkled ant bait on the mound and will wear boots when this plant is ready to stake, in case it's still active.
There are beautiful books on growing and caring for peonies on Amazon. This one in particular is beautiful by Jane Eastoe Peonies: Beautiful Varieties for Home & Garden.
I'm looking forward to the next few weeks as the peonies grow and blossom. If you're fortunate to live in a zone they are suitable for, you know they are a gardener's treasure.
Here's a tip: the best time to cut your peonies is in the morning. If you gently squeeze the bud and it feels like a large, firm marshmallow, you can go ahead and cut those long stems. Don't wait until they begin to open - they will not last as long indoors. Happy Peony Gardening!
Hembree House Interiors
Follow me on Instagram @hembreehouse
on Facebook at Hembree House Interiors