COL Peonies need winter's chill

by keith stangler

Q. We recently sold our home and are moving to Arkansas. We have some nice peony bushes that we would like to lift and take with us. When is the best time in fall to move peonies?

A. Peonies are best moved in September. Your idea of moving your peonies to Arkansas is not very sound, however, as peony buds require a cold period (cold temps in winter) to open. Peonies perform poorly in the South for this reason.

Q. How much grass seed should one use when trying to seed a large area of lawn? We will be seeding about an acre soon, and were wondering about how much grass seed we will need.

A. For most mixes plant 2 to 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet or about 100 pounds per acre. If you are planting only bluegrass, this rate can be cut back by half. If the mixture is more than 50 percent ryegrass or fescue, the rate should be increased to 150 pounds or so per acre.


Q. Our spireas are so huge now they crowd plants on either side. Could we prune them back this time of year?

A. Spirea can be pruned now, but only slightly. Cut them back so you remove most of the dried flowers. This will stimulate your plants to flower again this fall. Late this fall or early next spring, prune your spirea back fully by half, both width and height. Pruning them that severely now would be hard on them, and they would look pretty tough the rest of the year.

Q. Our sweet corn tastes so much sweeter this year. We plant Bodacious and Jubilee and they taste so much better than they have in recent years. We fertilize and everything the same every year. Is this just in our heads or what?

A. Ear length, yield, plant height, sweetness, flavor and many other factors are affected by genetics, the amount of sunlight (or lack of it), time of planting, rainfall, available nutrients, and other environmental factors. What produced the better flavor or sweetness this year, I don't know, just as I don't know why last season seemed a bit disappointing. But sweet corn is my favorite vegetable year in and year out. Just enjoy it!

Keith Stangler has 35 years experience as a horticulturist. For comment or questions, call (507) 285-7739 or 1-800-562-1758.

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