Friday, August 25, 2006

Transplanting our Peony

By Christina VanGinkel

It seems like just yesterday that my husband and I were planning our spring plantings. Today, amid the rain and cooler temperatures, it is becoming apparent that fall will be upon us very soon here in the Midwest. It always seems like it sneaks up on us. One day the temperatures are hovering close to one hundred and the next it seems like we are battling the cold and damp. My son plays his first football game of the season tomorrow too, and that is another solid indication that fall will soon arrive.

For years, we have talked about transplanting one very large princess pink peony. For anyone that has ever done this, you know that peonies do not like to be transplanted. If you must though, fall is the preferred time to do so. So with that in mind, we have begun the discussion once again. Should we move it? Where exactly will we move it? We each have a spot in mind, my husband and I, and each spot is nowhere near the other's desired location. The peony in question should be moved, deep down we know that, yet the idea of possibly bringing harm to a plant that in its current location thrives beautifully, seems like we would possibly be defeating our purpose before we even start.

Let me explain a bit more. The peony in question is planted in a flower box that buts up against a short wall of our house. This same wall is directly located next to our drive, where we park a minimum of two to three vehicles everyday. Of all of the flowers that we have growing in various parts of our gardens, we both claim the peony as our all time favorite, yet for the short occasions that we walk past it getting into or out of our vehicles, we never really have a chance to see it, much less enjoy it! Sure, others may get a quick peak of it in its current location, but aesthetically, it is in probably the worst place we could have chosen to plant it. For this reason, we have been contemplating its move ever since it grew into its full glory several years ago. Ironically, the spot it is in does not get a lot of sun and the drainage is not all that good, two specifics that peonies usually require. However, maybe as a last laugh at us for choosing to plant it in such a poor spot to begin with, it is thriving and flowers beautifully where it is.

With fall approaching once again, we have more or less decided that this will be the fall that we move it. We just have to agree on where exactly it is moving. We know that the fall is the best time of the year to transplant a peony, if you can ever really pick a good time. We know that we must be as considerate with the root structure as we can be, not disturbing it anymore than we absolutely must. The new hole should be able to accommodate the roots generously, which means that we will have to choose a location that is spacious enough to provide lots of room, because the peony in question is quite large to begin with, so the root structure is surely large. We know that when we do the actual transplanting, we should make sure that it is not replanted any deeper than it was in its original location. Planting it at a depth deeper than it was can cause shock, making it intolerant to a replanting more so than it most likely will be just from the actual move. As we replant it, we will take care that we pat the soil down slowly, not leaving pockets of air in the new soil to cave in, providing the heavy root structure cause to cave in and topple the whole thing.

Transplanting most plants is straightforward, and in all reality, the peony should not be any different from most any other plant. Peonies can be a bit bullheaded though, and for some reason they can occasionally balk at being moved. This will be the fall though, that the peony finally makes its move, if we can just make the decision on where it is moving!

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