- Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

Q. I transplanted and divided some peonies last year. This year, the foliage looks good but some of the buds are small and black and have never fully developed. What’s wrong with them? — Cindy Polley, West Lafayette, Ind.

A. Peonies have few pests or problems. The most frequently occurring pests are botrytis blight and leaf blotch, both fungal diseases. Especially prevalent during wet springs, botrytis affects leaves, stems and flowers. Spots appear on leaves, stems soften and decay, and flowers either rot or buds blacken and fail to open.

Sanitary measures offer the most effective means of control. Start with a thorough cleanup of old, infected stems and leaves and other plant debris in the fall. This reduces the overwintering site for the fungus. Pull the soil away from the crown, without injuring the buds.

In the spring, remove and destroy any wilted or rotted shoots as soon as you detect them. If mulch or another covering is used for winter protection, remove it in the spring before the new shoots emerge from the soil.

Improving air circulation and penetration of sunlight to peony plants often solves the problem. Sometimes, however, chemical control is necessary. If so, spray with a fungicide labeled for botrytis blight, when new shoots appear in the spring. Follow label instructions. Thoroughly soak the surrounding soil. Repeat the procedure a week later and again when the shoots are 3-6 inches tall.

Q. A few months ago, you had an article on protecting trees. I would like to obtain some (protectors) for a tree plantation I’ve put on 10 acres of my farm last spring. Could you tell me where to get some of these? — Cheers, Rita

A. There are many tactics to reduce deer damage. Individual tree protectors (woven wire, plastic cylinders, plastic netting or plastic wrap) can be useful for protecting young trees; however, since you’re dealing with a 10-acre tree farm, you will want to research all your options. Purdue’s Wildlife Conflicts Information Hotline Online Information Site http://www.entm.purdue.edu/wildlife/wild.htm is full of helpful links and information. You can find help on topics ranging from orphaned bunnies to coyote conflicts. There are excellent articles on deer control as well.

If you decide to pursue individual tree protectors, you will probably find them at a local garden center. Or, you can order them from many nurseries, including Greenwood Nursery (1-800-426-0958 http://www.greenwoodnursery.com), or learn about another option at http://www.treepro.com. See their distributor page. These are only a few of the companies that sell these products, and I encourage you to do an Internet search for vendors.

Q. I have daylilies, and I have no idea how to divide them, although I’ve heard it’s easy! Maybe some other people would benefit from this information, as well. — Joan Shea, South Bend, Ind.

A. Division is an easy way to inexpensively fill your garden with new plants. Early spring is the best time of year, but daylilies are incredibly tough and will survive division in the summer, if you keep them watered until they are established.

Dig the plants, preferably with a spading fork, and lift as much of the roots as possible. Use a large, sharp knife to cut the larger roots into smaller pieces. Each new piece should have roots and shoots. Daylilies are usually divided into single fans or clumps.

Replant the new pieces in the desired location, and be sure to space them with the mature size in mind. If you have no room for them in your garden, friends and neighbors will probably welcome them!


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