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Is Bigger Better?

Report From PIA – May 26

The first peonies opened at Poison Ivy Acres today, and I picked a bouquet for my bedroom. As I cut these flowers and the side buds that were on the same stem, I remembered the time a fellow master gardener was at my house in early May. He walked up to where I was working and said, “I pinched off the side buds on your peonies.”

He was clearly proud that he’d snipped off these future blossoms, and although I was gracious and didn’t lay into him, I was pissed off. Clearly he’d heard that if you cut off the side buds as they form, the terminal bud will develop into a large flower.

My response to this information has always been, “So what?” I don’t want larger peonies, I want more peonies. Those side buds go onto bloom later, extending the season and the number of fragrant bouquets that I can bring into the house.

I remember another guy I knew who’d pinch off the dahlia buds in order to get larger flowers, and come to think of it, the only people I know who cut off the “suckers” on tomatoes, in order to grow fewer but larger fruit, are men. Do we see a pattern here?

Please weigh in, girl & guy type gardeners: What do you grow in your garden: more or bigger?

This is a peony that came from Cia and Steve's garden in East Chatham, some 30 years ago...

So I'm all set to take the picture of this peony in bloom, and The Dog comes up and lifts his leg to pee on the plant! Is he saying, "Pay attention to me," or "Mine!"?

4 comments to Is Bigger Better?

  • I grow more! My dad used to have us help him pinch the side buds off the peonies so he’d get enormous flowers. I leave them and am happy with more flowers.

  • mary k

    I am definitely one for more flowers, especially when it comes to peonies!

  • Drat that dog…

    I have a peony that looks exactly the same, and I acquired it on a hot July day when my neighbor brought it over in tears because she had been forced to tear it out of her garden to make way for a new covered porch. I’m sure it had grown there for years. I told her I could definitely keep the peony alive and she was relieved. I cut off all foliage and stuck the roots in my compost/soil pile, and then planted them in the garden in the fall. They are now thriving.

  • Rhian

    Ha ha! Riley Riley! Sad I missed you on this visit, time flew by too fast and suddenly i’m back in hot, humid Hawaii. The Cape was glorious as ever though, and I hope to be back very soon.