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FAQ’s

When do I take delivery of my peony plants?

Gateforth Farm ship all there peony rhizomes in the autumn, beginning approximately late April until the first week in June. This is because autumn is the best time of year to dig and transplant a peony. Ordering early in the spring ensures you get first option on harder to get varieties however  just remember to have patience as your peonies still have some more growing to do before we can get them to you.

On larger orders placed in advance ( > 100 plants ) we are happy to take a 10% deposit with the remainder owing at the time of delivery.

What is the best time to plant a peony?

April through to June. Even though the peony has died back at this stage, the roots are active over winter and like to grow ready for spring growth.

How long can I keep my peony in a pot?

This will depend on the size of the pot. A 25 litre pot will be ok for 2-3 years. Smaller pots such as 6-8 litres would have you looking to re-pot or plant out into the ground after first growing year.

What is the best way to care for my peony?

Autumn and into the first half of winter is the best time to plant your Peony. They like to set some roots down into the soil before spring growth begins.

The planting site you choose must be well drained with good fertility which you can build this up by adding compost, blood and bone and a balanced compound fertiliser that has trace elements. A close to neutral Ph is very important! If your soil is acidic which most are, a good handful of lime or dolomite into the planting hole will be needed. However just as important is to top dress with more lime once each year in autumn to maintain the Ph.  The planting site will also need full sun or at least sun for 2/3rds of the day to enhance good flowering and root development.

When planting your peony you will have to dig a large hole for the root piece to sit into with the pink buds facing up. The top of the buds should sit about 30mm under the soil surface once the planting hole is filled back in and levelled off. If planted too deep, the buds will not flower in the spring.

Peonies need good chill hours in the winter time to set the buds and make flowers in the spring. Contrary to popular belief, they do not have to have a frost to flower! Most varieties will need chill hours of a minimum of 300 hours below 7 deg celsius which means that most cool/temperate climate areas in Australia can grow a peony. Gateforth Farm is testament to this due to being situated close to the coast. In rare years we have not had any frost however still had wonderful flowers on our peonies.

Avoid mulching close to the peony crown as this can act like a blanket over the plant and can also harbour disease, especially over the winter, causing problems in the spring-time.

The main disease effecting peonies is Botrytis. This would usually present itself after continual wet periods, showing up as blackened stems or buds. Mould can also be present. Trimming the effected areas off and discarding in your waste, is the best advice for control. Keeping the plant healthy with good ventilation will help resistance to disease. Over the counter fungicides that act on Botrytis can be used if there is a major problem.

It is most likely you will not see any flowers in its first growing year and only a small number in its second season. From the third year onwards, you should see your peony flourish and produce many beautiful blooms!

As autumn approaches, you will notice the foliage starting to change colour and slowly die back. It is time then to remove the entire bush by trimming it back down to the ground and preparing it for winter. It is very important to discard the plant material into your waste as this will prevent disease build-up around the plant. During this time, a top dress of either compost or NPK can be added as well as lime or dolomite, remembering not to cover over the crown of the plant. Fertilise again in early spring and after flowering for best results.  Peonies are great feeders!

Happy growing!

Does a peony need frost to flower?

It is true that a peony plant needs a certain amount of chill hours during winter to flower successfully. A broad guide would be 300 hours below 7 degrees. They can thrive even without frosts however strong attention to their position in the garden, nutrition and soil health is often overlooked or misunderstood.

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