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Growing Peonies In The South Cont.

Build a berm, which is just a raised bed. The berm will need well drained soil with organic matter such as small pieces of pine bark, sometimes called soil conditioner, mixed in to provide for air movement. The purpose of the berm is to keep the peony roots above ground level. When temperatures do drop into the 20's, the cold will be able to penetrate the soil in the berm.

The best time to move or plant peonies is in the fall after the foliage has died back. When transplanting peonies, try to get as much of the root structure as possible. Then plant on the berm with the eyes almost above ground. This will ensure that the eye gets as much exposure to the cold as possible. When mulching the bed, keep the mulch pulled back from the eyes to allow the cold to reach them.

Best varieties
In recent years, several varieties have been introduced that do well in the south, here are a few.
Festiva Maxima
Sarah Bernhardt
Karl Rosenfeld
Felix Crouse

The truth about moving peonies:
There is an urban legend that states you will delay the blooming of peopnies if you move them. This legend kept me trying to grow my bloom-less peonies, but really just kept me from finding a way to successfully grow them in the south. Every year it was the same thing, 'they haven't been in the ground long enough to bloom,' so I would wait another year. Finally, after 4 years, I moved them to a new location. I still did not get any blooms. And accepted it as, once again 'they haven't been in the ground long enough.' The third time I moved them was the charm. When I planted them on the berm, they flowered the first year and continue to get better each year. So my advice is: Do not worry about moving your peonies, just try to get as much of the eye and roots as you can when transplanting them to an appropriate location.

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