A proven method for preventing peony flop.
Sarah Bernhardt peony

Sarah Bernhardt is a lovely pink double, but the stems are fairly long and slender. I usually float one or two in our lotus bowl during peony season.

The trouble with double peonies is that they’re too much of a good thing. Yet everyone has them. Fluffy, white Festiva Maxima has been a favorite among gardeners for a century with no sign of decline in popularity.

The problem is, they’re floppers. Diligent gardeners get their peonies trussed up early in the season with grow-through grids or peony rings. For awhile the plants stand straight and proud as the ants crawl all over the buds. Then they’ll start to tease, showing just a bit of color. At last, the buds open: huge, gorgeous, unforgettably fragrant. These June beauties never fail to leave me breathless.

But then it rains. And they flop. Splayed all over the ground or snapped at the neck, they’re victims of their own beauty. A garden tragedy.

What’s the solution? A better support? A more prepared gardener?

Single white peony

This white single peony is never floppy. If I remember correctly, the variety is called Krinkled White.

My solution is a pair of scissors. Start cutting those peonies just as soon as they start to show a hint of color. Rinse off the ants and bring them in to arrange in a vase. Your home will be filled with wonderful fragrance, and they’ll never flop. Let the irises take center stage in the garden while these tragic beauties, the double peonies, star in your bouquets.

The other solution? Plant more single peonies. They’re just as beautiful and a lot less likely to flop. Even the singles benefit from a little support, so get those rings or grids in place before the plants get to be more than 6 inches tall.

One more thing: If you’re a busy gardener and didn’t get the grids or rings positioned in time, use the Curved Link Stakes. You can set those up any time.

David Grist, Online Content Coordinator, Gardener’s Supply