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Floppy peony!

xamyvaloxxamyvalox Posts: 27

I have had a Sarah Bernhart peony in a pot for around 3 years now, every year it has got lovely and tall and produced 5 or 6 beautiful flowers, but has never got any bigger. This year I've had the usual signs of life and a few stems have come up with leaves, but they are no more than 30cm tall and the stems themselves are really floppy and drooping over with no structure, as though it is underwatered, but this obviously cannot be the case with all the rain we have had, plus I have checked the soil. 

I haven't moved the position of the pot and it gets plenty of sunlight. Is everything just a bit late this year because we have had practically no nice weather or is there something wrong with it? 

Many thanks


  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,601
    There could be several things going on here. SB is a big peony and is best in the ground but it is likely to have outgrown the pot in 3 years. Have you potted it up in fresh compost and fed it?
    Although there has been rain, you don't always get much falling into a flower pot. Have you checked it's getting enough water? Stick a finger well in.
    It has been a long, cold spring with freezing temperatures. Did you protect the pot at all?
    Many plants are late and poorer this year but it shouldn't be floppy. There's a chance that the pot does not drain well and the roots have suffered.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,299
    Could we have a picture
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,118
    If it's been in the same pot for three years without any extra nutrition, it will be struggling badly. They aren't very suited to pots without a fair bit of help and attention. They need lots of food and a good, healthy growing medium - certainly not just compost. 
    Even with regular rainfall, if the pot is full of roots and a spent growing medium, it will do very little to help. Although they like sun and free draining soil, they also need enough water in a pot. If the pot contents have been allowed to get dried out [quite likely in April]  it can be difficult to rehydrate, even with a decent amount of rain, and the plant suffers just at the time it's trying to grow and produce buds/flowers.   
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • xamyvaloxxamyvalox Posts: 27
    Thanks for your responses. 

    I have given it fresh compost at the beginning of the year and I feed all my plants with a liquid feed but that's about it to be honest. 

    I don't have anywhere suitable for it in the ground, would moving it to a bigger pot, with fresh medium and a good feed help it along? Will it be a lost cause for this year seeing as this time last year I was waiting for the buds to open, yet this year I barely have foliage? 

    Will pop a pic up shortly.
  • peteSpeteS Posts: 870
    @xamyvalox... I've had this peony in the same pot for over 20 years, and as you can see it is sharing it with other plants. It's not a particularly big pot about 16" wide and 10" deep. I never bother changing the compost but do add a manure mulch in early spring as well as pelleted chicken manure, and plenty of water with a liquid feed once or twice a week depending on the temps. I think the amount of water I give it out of the flowering season and into Autumn dictates the number of flowers the following year. They can be grown successfully in a pot, but need cosseting to get the best out of 'em.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,118
    Is it Rubra you have @peteS? If so, it manages with very little attention and grows almost anywhere. The fancier, cultivated varieties are less accommodating.  :)
    A better sized pot and a better medium will certainly help @xamyvalox, but avoid food just now. A struggling plant can't cope with that.  Make sure the drainage holes aren't blocked too, as that can be a problem.    If it has very little foliage, there's clearly something very wrong.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • peteSpeteS Posts: 870
    @Fairygirl...I've long since lost what it is, but it has large, double, creamy white blooms with splashes of pink. To be honest, even if it didn't flower, I would keep it purely for the foliage alone.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,118
    Not Rubra then @peteS. :)
    It's probably been more than happy enough with your feeding and mulching  regime though. That's vital when they're potted. You're giving it plenty of nourishment which is what they need. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • xamyvaloxxamyvalox Posts: 27
    Right, job for this afternoon then is to repot into a pot double the current size with some fresh compost and see if it perks up. 

    Am I being far too optimistic to expect flowers this year?

    Images attached - poor thing :(
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391
    You would already see tiny flower buds at the tips of the shoots if was going to flower this year.  If those aren't there, then I'm sure it will next year after the TLC! :)
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
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