For those of you in all USDA growing zones that are besieged with extremely high temperatures and lack of rainfall over the past few weeks, we are suggesting you water your peonies now. Peonies start their new growth for next year a few weeks after the last blooms are spent. Thus hand watering them now affords much needed moisture for next years growth.
So how do you hand water peonies? The key is SLOWLY! Peonies take in moisture similar to trees and shrubs meaning at their drip lines. Peonies drip line is at the edge of their foliage. DO NOT WATER PEONIES IN THE CENTER OF THE PLANT WHERE THE CROWN IS LOCATED! Slowly add water around the drip line of the plant with a shower like water container or use the ‘shower’ feature on your handheld sprayer going around the peony for five minutes in the early morning and again the same in the evening.
For those of us in USDA Zones 2-4, hand watering peonies has always been a no no, but based on the weeks of no rainfall and the many days of record setting high temperatures, yes this is a peony watering alert! Those of you in USDA zones 5 and higher, hand watering peonies is a way of life in your gardens so continue doing what has worked for you. The key though is to make sure the peonies drip line dries out at least 3 to 4 inches below ground level before you hand water again.
After the first two applications, wait another two days before checking the moisture depth in their drip line. Stick your finger down into the drip line 3 to 4 inches to see if it is still dry or the drip line is still muddy. If dry 3 to 4 inches below ground level, repeat watering as described in previous paragraph. If it is muddy, do not water and wait a couple more days to recheck. Of course this may all change with much needed rainfall, so use the gauge of 3 to 4 inches below ground level till July 5th so we can help our peonies thrive for next year. Too much water, as you know, will rot out peony roots so be careful out there!