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Re: Help with peonies


> From: <Chris@widom-assoc.com>
 > Many of my peony plants are browning and look awful!  Could this
be blight
 > or could this be the end of their season? Also, I have an
abundance of
 > mature foxgloves for the first time, but many are growing in all
the wrong
 > places!  When is a safe time to relocate them?  I tried to pot
some up in
 > the late spring/early summer, but they didn't like it much,
although they
 > didn't die outright.
> ----- Original Message ----- 

Well, Chris, for the past 25 years or so, my peonies always look like
hell about this time of year...foliage always browns out.  I have
assumed it is one of the diseases they get and cut it off (when I get
there) and trash it.  Peony foliage is one item I never put in the
compost or even throw off in to the woods.  They come up and bloom
fine every year.  I have also assumed that this is very climate
related since they really prefer cooler climates than mine.  If
you've had a wet summer and not experienced this before, I'd blame it
on the weather encouraging some fungi or other...just cut off the
foliage and trash it.  Once it browns out, it's not doing the plant
any good.

P. japonica is doing fine - getting eaten by hardy begonia, but
setting seed; foliage still in good shape.  I must collect that seed
before some critter does.

Foxglove, in my experience, has a relatively shallow, very fine
(hairlike) root system that can, depending on soil, be pretty
widespread.  You can move them about any time if you make sure to
give them lots of water.  Cooler weather and/or damp, cloudy days are
best to do this, but I've basically pulled them out of very loose,
highly organic soil and plopped them back in somewhere else and had
them go on fine.  Just try to get as much of the root system as you
can and replant immediately.  Autumn is the time to transplant
seedling foxgloves to their permanent location....o'course, I do that
anytime I want to move one, myself:-)

Thing about foxgloves - if you're talking about D. purpurea, the
common foxglove, is that they are mostly biennial or very short-lived
perennials (2 blooming seasons is the most I've ever had from one
plant).  I can always tell if they will come back after they've
bloomed because those that will maintain a green rosette of foliage
after the bloom stalk is cut back.  If you don't have that, the plant
is history.

I  certainly have not grown all the species, but even those that are
supposed to be perennial I find to be rather short lived- 3 or 4
years is all I get out of them and they disappear...most will leave
children.  D. purpurea is naturalized in my garden.  I just let them
seed where they want to and pull those that get on my nerves.  Some
years I have an incredible show and others, I don't...but I would not
want to be without them even tho' they are a tad on the weedy side
for me.  Have to watch the suckers as they will seed too close to
other plants and if I don't get those out, I'll turn around and find
some treasure being smothered by their huge basil leaves.   If I want
the foxglove, I just remove the offending leaves to give the treasure
some air.

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
mtalt@hort.net
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
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