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Re: Bonnie / Marge - tree peony

Thanks Marge. I certainly want to do my best by this plant. The flowers are fantastic.
neIN, Zone 5
----- Original Message ----- From: "Marge Talt" <mtalt@hort.net>
To: <gardenchat@hort.net>
Sent: Thursday, May 04, 2006 4:02 AM
Subject: Re: [CHAT] Bonnie / Marge - tree peony

Kitty, sure reads like some major portion of that text is missing.
Did a search of my files for anything on this issue; found the
following (edited to remove extraneous stuff), which may be of help -
quotes after my SIG.  Issue is that now is not the time to dig up
your peony.....just cut off the herbaceous stems as far down as you

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
Shadyside Garden Designs

1.  " If it turns out to be lactiflora from a nurse root on which a
TP scion was grafted, then you should trim it back as low down as you
can, even underground, slicing it off at a slant with a sharp knife.
This is to encourage the TP to make its own roots.  In the fall, you
could dig up the peony and inspect the roots, trimming away or
reducing the size of the nurse root, then replant the TP and
fertilize it to encourage the TP's own roots to develop.  "

2.  "I thought your question might deserve a condensed version of the
talk on
tree peonies that Rick Rogers of Brothers Nursery gave to the Pacific
Northwest Peony Society a few weeks ago.

 The roots your grafted tree peonies are on are the roots of

 These are called "nurse roots" because they allow the grafted tree
portion to live for a while, during which time it hopefully grows its
tree peony type roots.

 Next comes the part that you rarely hear about.  After the tree
makes enough roots to support itself,(a year or two) you need to dig
up the
plant and remove what of the herbacious root you can identify.  The
for this is that the nurse root can continue to grow larger and
larger under
ground (a bad thing). Retaining the nurse root seems to repress the
of real tree peony roots.    Your tree peony will do much better in
the long
run if on its own roots.

 The above should also point out the importance of planting grafted
peonies with the graft perhaps 7-8" below the soil level.  This
plenty of area for the graft to form its own roots on even if it does
bury your plant!

 A frequent problem for folks growing tree peonies from those gallon
that you often see at the local nursery is that they are generally
with the graft right at the soil level.  When transplanted like this,
never get a chance to form their own roots, and so often waste away
and die."

3.  "t is perhaps so obvious that it doesn't need saying, but I will

The immediate function of the nurse root is as a source of stored
food for
the next round of shoot growth, the shoot then producing leaves for
photosynthesis enabling storage of food again.  The own-roots which
replace the need for the nurse root will emerge under the influence
of the
shoot buds as they commence and continue growth.  This happens
in relative darkness and in the presence of moisture--etiolated
tissue, or
its causes, are probably involved.  Thus the need to get not only bud
(scion wood carrying at least bud initials) under ground, but also
buds capable of growing in the next seasonal cycle.  I do not find it
necessary to have any scion wood above ground.

The planting problem of getting buds underground while not setting
essential parts so deeply into heavy soil, such that shortage of
is a limiting factor to root function, is resolved by use of common
(There is no compelling reason to set your plant in a vertical
orientation.)  Walter Good supplied an article to the APS Bulletin
four or
five years ago including drawings which illustrate a very favorable
solution--simply set the graft or young grafted plant on a slant,
such that
the nurse root is not so deep, but the critical bud wood is in the
dark, moist environment.

So, when one is helping the graft get off the nurse root by pruning
part of the root, one constraint to how much to remove is that the
needs to have enough food storage tissue remaining to support
production of
a leafy shoot.  You get too zealous with ridding the plant of its
root and you can end up with no plant."

4.  "Dear All;
Talked with Don Hollingsworth over dinner last night about
the recent peony messages about removal of the nurse root and
realized a warning was VERY needed.
Although there are many reason for removal of the nurse root
of grated tree peonies there are also one big reason for NOT removing
the nurse root.

The tree peony grafts coming from Japan are often sold
pre-potted and even in bloom. Many of these are poorly potted with
the graft above ground. The graft union (where the tree peony scion
and the nurse root under stock join) must be planted sufficiently
deeply to allow the tree peony to make its own roots. This graft is
meant to be temporary and allow the tree peony time to make its own
Theoretically the nurse root will die and theoretically the
scion will make its own roots. This does not always happen.

It is vital that the nurse root stay in place 'long enough'
for the tree peony scion to make its own roots- this should be in a
season or two of growth, but some cvs are slower. If anyone were to
remove the nurse root without at least a couple healthy tree peony
roots coming from the scion, the plant will surely die.

Tree peony roots are very distinctly different from
herbaceous under stock roots and a one time experience and
realization will make this very clear. Before you attempt to remove
under stock look closely at the graft union.You should see pale tree
peony roots coming from ABOVE the graft. BELOW the graft the original
herbaceous root may have grown to enormous proportions and have
typical large stocky often dark red/brown roots.

Only when you are sure you have tree peony roots coming from
the grafted scion is it safe to remove the nurse root under stock.
This may take 1 or 2 year or as long as 5 or 6 in some cvs.

Jim L advise planting the graft 10 inches deep.This depends
on your soil and the size of your grafted plant. In my heavy clay
soil I rarely plant the graft union more than 2 inches below the
soil. I don't want to kill the nurse root before the graft has
produced its own roots. In light well-aerated soil the graft union
can go deeper, but you should not bury the entire plant. I leave as
little as one inch (with bud) exposed.

This all take a bit of observation, common sense and understanding."

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