"The favorites of the Greek gods and Chinese emperors" - so figuratively speak of peonies. The first references to them as ornamental plants date back to the 1st century.ne . In China, peonies have been widely used in folk medicine. Roman writer Pliny defined the peony as the oldest of all cultivated flowers.
Peonies appeared in Russia in the 16th century. These were mostly wild forms and were found only in the gardens of wealthy people and the so-called pharmacy gardens.
At the end of the XVIII - beginning of the XIX century.varietal peonies from China were imported into France, and already in the second half of the XIX century.beautiful varieties were bred there, which even now adorn the gardens : the Maxim Festival, Marie Lemoine, Monsieur Jules Eli, Felix Cruz, Sarah Bernhardt, Le Sin and many others.
In 1903, the American Society of Peony Lovers was created in America. In the 30s, American breeders managed to cross different types of peonies and get non-double, semi-double and double hybrids with bright and juicy colors of flowers : Red Charm, Red Red Rose, Angelo Cobb Freeborn, Henry Boxtos, Diane Pake, Carol, Helen Cowley and others .
A large selection work is carried out in our country both in botanical gardens and amateur gardeners. Dozens of first-class varieties were bred: Arkady Gaidar, Yubileiny, Lyubimets, In memory of Gagarin, Varenka (breeder Krasnov N. S.); Iceberg, Evening Moscow, In memory of Paustovsky, Yablochkin (A. A. Sosnovets); Russia, Nadezhda, Uncle Vanya, Valentina Tereshkova (M. I. Akimov); Foam, Snow globe (T. I. Fomina).
Why are peonies attractive? Firstly, a huge variety of shapes and colors of flowers, high decorative shrubs for 25 to 30 years, a long flowering period (up to 1.5 months), flower resistance in cut. Secondly, their excellent adaptability to various climatic conditions - from southern to northern regions. After all, a peony is not afraid of frosty winters and grows well in arid regions . Moreover, domestic varieties are much better adapted to the climatic conditions of our country than foreign varieties.
Given that the peony is a perennial plant, its proper planting is of particular importance. The depth of the landing pits should be at least 60-70 cm . This allows the bushes to form a powerful root system, extending to a considerable depth. The distance between the bushes 70-100 cm in the future will facilitate the processing of bushes, as well as ensure sufficient air circulation and to a large extent prevent the appearance of fungal diseases.
It is better to plant peonies in open, sunny places, although they tolerate light partial shade . In the shade, they develop well, but do not bloom.
Soils are preferred loamy, well aerated and drained, and do not tolerate wet marshy . Therefore, if on a garden plot groundwater approaches closer than 80–90 cm from the soil level, then bushes should be planted on high ridges or drainage ditches should be arranged. On acidic soils, liming is desirable - 200-300 g of lime per 1 planting pit.
I prepare the pits in advance, in July, so that by the time of planting the land has settled properly in them. When preparing the pits, I postpone the upper cultural soil layer, and delete the rest of the earth. I bring 15-20 kg of organic fertilizers into the lower part of the pit (preferably a mixture of rotted manure with compost and peat), 150-200 g of superphosphate or 300-400 g of phosphorite (bone meal) and 150-200 g of potassium sulfate. On clay soils, I add 0.5-1 buckets of river sand to the mixture, on sandy soils - 1-1.5 buckets of clay. A mixture of fertilizers, sand and fertile soil from the top layer is thoroughly mixed and rammed in a pit; I pour about 20 cm of fertile garden soil on top, better from other crops.
I dig up the peony bushes intended for division after completion of the formation of kidneys of renewal on the rhizome (for the middle band - from August 10-15 to mid-September). I wash the roots with a stream of water and put in the shade for a day to wither - then they break less during division. I split the rhizome into divisions with 3-5 large buds of renewal. I carefully clean the root neck from rot, cut the diseased and entwined roots, shorten the remaining ones to 10-15 cm. I lower the divisions for several hours in a dark potassium permanganate solution, after which I sprinkle all sections with crushed charcoal, with the addition of colloidal sulfur (20-30% ) After such processing, the divisions are dried in the shade during the day, so that a cork layer is formed on the slices, which prevents the penetration of pathogenic microflora into the wounds.
Some amateur gardeners divide the bushes into large parts with 6 or more buds of renewal and leave a significant part of the root system without pruning. In the 1st year, the plant really develops rapidly due to the nutrients accumulated by the roots, but the formation of young roots is inhibited, which affects the development of bushes in subsequent years. I was convinced that from the divisions with 1-2 buds for 3-4 years after planting, full-grown bushes grow with an excellent rejuvenated root system that provides abundant flowering. If the shares are not planted immediately, then they are placed in a shaded prikop, where they can be up to 1 - 1.5 months.
I plant peonies from the second half of August to the beginning of October. The most important thing when planting is not to deepen the buds of renewal, they should be located at a depth of not more than 5 cm, otherwise the peonies will bloom poorly in the future . If on the contrary - leave them on the surface - the plants develop poorly, get sick. Rhizome, along with the kidneys, it is desirable to fill up with sand. Watering after planting is very important for good rooting, and in dry weather - until late autumn. It is not required to cover young plantings in the middle lane, if the planting dates are met. However, at later dates, as well as in the northern and cold regions, they are covered with a layer of leaf, peat or compost 10-12 cm.
Some plant peony bushes in the spring.But then the plants form few young suction roots, develop poorly and get sick . If such a need has arisen, then transplantation is done early - as soon as the soil thaws. Plantings are immediately mulched with peat or compost to preserve soil moisture for longer, and are regularly watered in dry weather.
With proper planting, young bushes in the first two years of development do not need care and top dressing with mineral fertilizers, not counting weeding, loosening and watering . In the 1st year, the aerial part of the plant is small - 1-2 stems 15–25 cm high; during this period, the formation of the root system occurs intensively, which is not yet able to absorb the nutrients of top dressing. In the 1st year I give foliar top dressing with an interval of 10-15 days:
1st feeding - 40-50 g of urea (urea) per 10 l of water immediately after regrowth of the aerial part;
2nd feeding - 40-50 g of urea with the addition of trace elements to 10 liters of water;
3rd feeding - 1 table. trace elements in 10 liters of water.
For foliar top dressing I use a garden sprayer. I spend them in the morning or in the evening. For a good wetting of the surface of the leaves with 10 liters of solution, add 1 tablespoon of washing powder. Starting from the 3rd year of development, peony bushes begin to bloom profusely, and then mineral top dressing is required. Usually in the spring-summer period I give them three times.
Early spring nitrogen-potassium top dressing is especially important : nitrogen - 10-15 g, potassium - 10-20 g. I spread fertilizers in the snow or immediately after it has descended around the bush. Having dissolved, they will get to the roots with melt water. Sprinkling fertilizers, you should avoid getting them on the neck of the bush.
2nd feeding - during budding: nitrogen - 8-10 g, phosphorus - 15-20 g and potassium - 10-15 g. The main purpose of the second feeding is to obtain flowers of good quality.
3rd feeding - two weeks after flowering: phosphorus - 15-20 g, potassium - 10-15 g. This fertilizing contributes to the formation of large buds of renewal and, thus, ensures high-quality flowering in the coming year.
I apply fertilizers in the form of a 0.5-0.6% solution (50-60 g per 10 l of water) or in a dry form in the groove around the bush before watering. Extra foliar micronutrient dressing is very effective in these terms.
Peony bushes, having a large leaf mass, evaporate a lot of moisture, therefore, once every 10-12 days they require abundant watering (3-4 buckets per bush) . Watering is especially important in early summer, during the period of active growth and flowering, as well as in July, when the formation of buds resumes. After watering, I loosen the soil around the bushes, which allows you to save moisture in the ground.
To obtain large flowers when growing for cutting, it is necessary to pinch the side buds when they reach the size of a pea . If you leave these buds, then the flowering period and the decorativeness of the bushes will be extended. It is recommended that in the 1st and 2nd years after planting, all buds be removed (in the 2nd year, 1-2 buds can be left on the bush) to activate root growth and budding of renewal buds. ; In this case, in the 3rd year, the bush will grow, and full-fledged abundant flowering will come.
The most common peony diseases are gray rot (botritis), rust, and a circular mosaic of leaves.
Stems, buds, leaves are affected by gray rot . More often young shoots in the spring, during a period of active growth, suffer. A gray coating appears at the base of the stem, then the stem darkens in this place, breaks and falls. Especially the disease develops in wet weather. Since the causative agent of this disease hibernates in the soil, in spring I spend two sprayings of bushes and the soil around them with 0.6–0.7% solution of copper oxychloride or 1% Bordeaux liquid (consumption of 2-3 liters per bush ): the first spraying - at the beginning of the growing season (the appearance of buds above the ground), the second - after 10-12 days. When gray rot appears on the stems, I immediately cut them to the rhizome and fill this place with one of these solutions.
Rust is a dangerous fungal disease of peonies . After flowering (in the Moscow region - the first half of July), yellowish-brown spots with a purple tint appear on the leaves. The disease spreads quickly: in 2-3 days peony bushes in large areas can be affected. The leaves curl and dry out, as a result, the accumulation of nutrients in the roots stops, which negatively affects the laying and development of kidney renewal.
A complex of agrotechnical measures is of great importance for the prevention of fungal diseases: digging the soil around the plants, timely and proper feeding, destroying the affected leaves, and in September - pruning and burning the entire aerial part of the plant, ungutted planting of bushes, regular weeding, etc. Very effective autumn (after leaf pruning) or early spring (before buds) spraying of the soil on the plantings of peonies with nitrafen (200 g per 10 l of water). To prevent rust, I spray the plants with the same drugs as against gray rot, but after flowering with an interval of 7-10 days and immediately as soon as signs of the disease appear. I cut and burn the affected leaves.
Ring mosaic of leaves is a viral disease. Light green and yellowish stripes, rings, half rings appear on the leaves, which impairs the decorativeness of the bushes, but does not reduce the growth and abundance of flowering. It is distributed by cutting flowers from sick and healthy plants without intermediate disinfection of the instrument with a strong solution of potassium permanganate. On the bushes can be both sick and healthy shoots. During the dissolution of the buds, the diseased shoots are cut to the rhizome and burned.
D. B. Kapinos , amateur flower grower, Moscow region, Vidnoye