At their March meeting, 14 members of Great Bend Garden Club and one guest learned much about the colorful spring flowing shrub, the peony. Becky Dudrey shared a wealth of information about growing and caring for this perennial favorite known for its beauty and longevity.
In the Kansas climate with its cold winters if the shrub’s bare rooted tubers are carefully planted in full sun and well-drained soil, away from tall trees and other large shrubs, they can survive for 50-100 years.
Planting or transplanting peonies in the early fall requires an 18-24 inch plant hole with the bottom half filled with compost enriched with bone meal and a 10-6-4 ratio plant food. To insure blooming in two years, the tubers should have three to five eyes (sprouts) facing upwards with the eyes covered with only two inches of top soil. They may bloom sooner if already potted. Deep watering is required with initial planting, but soon they are drought tolerant.
Peonies need ants for pollination. During the spring, removing side buds increases the size of center blossoms on a stem, and the blossom stems need to be trimmed back to the leaf junction each fall. Leaving the foliage all winter helps nourish the shrub. A winter mulch is recommended, but Garden Club members shared that omitting that didn’t seem a problem.
There are a variety of circular stakes to hold the top heavy blossoms from drooping to the ground. If wanting to keep blossoms from fully opening until a later date, the stems can be cut, covered with damp paper towels and a plastic bag, and placed in the refrigerator until needed.
During the business meeting, led by President Nancy Swafford, Delores Grose noted that there are three new names for the Memorial Plaques in the Cemetery Rose Garden. During a Rose Garden report by Alice Young, a motion was made and carried to contact Tammy Wagner concerning maintenance of the rose beds during the upcoming spring and summer. Members will check the condition of the roses to determine if new roses are needed. Jeannine Girton discussed preliminary plans for the May visit with the Larned Garden Club.
Delicious St. Patrick’s Day cup cakes were served by hostess Delores Grose. The next meeting of the Great Bend Garden Club will be on April 20 at 10 a.m. in the Barton County Extension Meeting Room. Pam Sweeney will have the program and Bonnie Sarff will be hostess.