“My peonies are more luxurious than ever this year. However, after the 1st rain, they tend to fall over. I have each bush encased in an upside-down tomato cage, but they still tend to droop, as the flowers are so heavy. Any suggestions to make this stop from happening every year and any ideas on how to make the glorious blossoms last longer? Many thanks!!” Question from Diane of Newark, Ohio
Answer: Sadly, this is a common problem with old-fashioned, double-flowered peonies. Their weighty blooms cause the weak stems to bend, so they droop. After a rain, the flowers hold water like petaled bowls, which causes them to drop to the ground. Tomato cages can certainly work, but some garden supply companies make even stronger perennial cages that do the job better. For example, Titan Peony Supports get high ratings from gardeners. Another option is to bolster each flower stem with its own stake before blooming begins. This method takes more time but results in a prettier-looking peony.
Finally, if your peony is planted in partial sun, it may be worth the effort to dig its massive root ball in fall and move it to a sunnier spot. More sun also encourages stem strength. Just be sure not to plant peonies too deeply (more than 3-inches below the surface) as this can inhibit flowering.
As far as making the blossoms last longer, there is no method known other than picking the blossoms for indoor arrangements and giving the cut flowers fresh water and cut-flower food until they fade.
I hope that these tips help!
Black Gold Horticulturist
Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.
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