Peony First Aid


Somebody put their bike on my peony bush this week, cracking the stems. Since it was after the blooming, I cut away the broken stems, and cleaned away some weeds, adding promix leftover potting soil, near the perimeter within 12 hours. With some rain forecast, I haven’t added any water yet, so there isn’t more stress. I’ll transplant them sometime, to a safer place, out of harm’s way since there is nearby construction which I can’t control. Any comments?


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners and sorry to hear about your damaged peony. It sounds like you are providing good care while you wait until you can safely move it to a new location (preferably in the fall). Cutting away the broken stems is a good idea — by making clean cuts, you are lessening the chances of diseases and pests making their way into plant tissues. There may have been some soil compaction if the bike rode over your peony, which might impact the ability of air and water to reach the plant’s root system. You may want to gently loosen the soil around the peony using a pitchfork. Insert it into the soil about a foot (12 inches) away from the top growth. Tip the pitchfork back and forth a few times (don’t turn the soil); do this around each side of the plant. This should be done early or late in the day, when the soil is less likely to dry out immediately after being loosened. With regard to watering, be sure to provide supplemental water during extended periods of heat and/or drought. Peonies generally require about an inch of water every week.

In addition to the “first aid” you have provided to your plant, you may also want to consider adding a temporary barrier until you are able to move it. This will alert passersby and hopefully ensure they avoid crushing any more foliage. A large tomato cage or other wire support would work well.

For more information on how to transplant a peony, please refer to this previous from our website: Transplanting Peonies