I live in Zone 4. I need to dig up and split a Peony Bush (very huge) :no: , a drooping Autum Joy Sedum, and several Oriental Lillies. Can I still do this at this late date or should I wait till spring?
Now is a great time to attack that monster peony. It's just entering the dormant stage so whatever damage you do with not hurt it. Do be prepared to find a huge mass of roots with some going halfway to China! And the big ones will break off at about 2 feet deep. Don't worry about that. When you finally get it out, throw away the books which tell you how to carefully do this or that. Revert back to the opening sentence of this reply and attack it with an axe, machete, sharp spade, whatever. Simply split it right down the middle as there is no way that you can ever do it gently.
Before replanting, dig the new holes at least 6 inches deeper than the roots. Dump in 8+ inches of compost, aged manure, or the like. Place the root ball in and fill around it with a mix of soil and compost. Mulch them with 3 inches of coarse compost or shredded leaves. Next spring, the plants will bloom even better than before you moved them.
Two years ago, I had to divide and move one which had been in place for 40 years. The root ball was over 3 feet wide. The two halves were not carried to their new locations, they were rolled! In two seasons, both plants are now nearly as large as the original.
A helpful hint for those who have old peony plants. Each fall, mound them with 3 inches of compost. That will slowly break down and soak into the soil where the roots can feed on them. Mine get a simply compost mix of grass clippings and shredded maple leaves. Five of the plants have been in the same place since August 1963 and they just keep getting bigger and bigger every year!
Thanks Martin! I sure wish you lived closer to me! I would have you over all the time or I would be there picking your brain :worship: Should I trim the stalks off of the peony or leave them? They are still kinda green and the leaves haven't dried up and fallen yet.
Indeed, cut those peonies off just above ground level now. In fact, that's my project for this evening when I get home. They are serving no purpose now despite being green. Some people even cut them down shortly after blooming. Supposedly, peony roots already will have stored up enough energy for the next year. I do have one neighbor who simply mows them down soon after blooming and they keep coming back every year. However, I appreciate the foliage just as much as the blossoms.
Here's what they tell us in zones 4 and 5 in the Rocky Mts and plains: You can transplant or plant any deciduous plant/tree this time of year. Do NOT transplant any evergreen bush/tree as they will not have time to set roots before the really cold winter temperatures set in and ground freezes. The key to a successful fall transplant is plenty of water. Don't think because there are no leaves that the plant doesn't need water --- it does. The plant will use it to re-establish the root system. And if your area does not have constant snow cover, water your transplants throughout the winter too on some of the warmer days -- deep watering is best.
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