Three tree peony questions

Jim McKenney
Tue, 03 Aug 2004 11:54:05 PDT

The recent threads on tree peonies prompt me to ask three questions: 

First of all, does anyone have any experience in transplanting successfully
old established suffruticosa tree peonies? I have several plants which have
been in position for over twenty years. They are now much shaded by other
plants and are declining. In particular, is there an optimal season to do
this? These plants may or may not be on lactiflora understock, but I'm most
curious to hear  about transplanting tree peonies which are on their own

Secondly, and not to answer my own question above, but I have transplanted
some young tree peonies in recent years and the results were good. The
plants in question had vigorous lactiflora understock. I did the
transplanting in the autumn, as I would for garden lactiflora cultivars.
I've also tried this (moving tps with lactiflora understock) in the spring,
with disappointing results. 

The recent tree peony threads have had a lot negative to say about
lactiflora understock for tree peonies. But I think that when the time
comes to transplant the tree peonies, the lactiflora understock is an
advantage. Paeonia lactiflora cultivars are among the easiest of garden
plants to move successfully if it is done at the right time (late summer,
early autumn). If the move is done carefully, there will be abundant bloom
the following spring. And I'm convinced that the lactiflora understock on
older tree peonies are an advantage when these plants are transplanted.
Again, I'm curious: what are the experiences of others? 

The third question concerns a twenty + year old suffruticosa tree peony
(name unknown) in my garden which, although it seems to grow normally, has
never bloomed. Other tree peonies around it bloom freely. I've been
contemplating cutting it down to the ground this fall to see if stronger
flowering growth will emerge next year. Are there other less drastic
measures which might bring it into bloom?

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where I can remember when
imported Japanese tree peonies were only $3.98 each at the local hardware
store. !

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