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Peonies & Fuchsias

June 18, 2013

Credit: Celeste Longacre
Your rating: None Average: 1 of 5 (2 votes)

The peony that we have in our yard is one of my favorite plants.

It was actually the very first thing that I planted on our property. A friend had given me some cut peonies and they lasted for a very, very long time. 

I have heard that there are basically two types of peonies; one that keeps well as a cut flower and the other that is heavily scented. The one I ended up planting is of the heavily scented variety.

With peonies, they need the help of the ants. In the spring when the buds form, they will be covered by ants.

As ants are a bit creepy-crawly, the tendency may be to spray them off. However, these ants are necessary to eat the coverings of the buds.

Without the ants performing this function, the peonies would not be able to bloom. So bless the ants as they aid these gorgeous blossoms.

Fuchsias are also lovely plants. We usually see them in hanging baskets.

They will bloom all summer long with a bit of attention. For one thing, they love water. I always check my fuchsia first if the weather has been dry. These “plants” are actually a combination of many plants put together in one pot. So you have to be careful watering them—make sure that the entire surface of the soil gets wet. Also, the seeds need to be picked off.

For any plant, its purpose is to reproduce itself. So it will grow and flower hoping to attract pollinating insects. Once this has happened, it will set seeds. Then the plant thinks that its job is done. And, it will stop flowering. To keep it flowering all summer long we need to keep removing the seeds. A small price to pay for a season of loveliness.

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Celeste Longacre has been growing vitually all of her family's vegetables for the entire year for over 30 years. She cans, she freezes, she dries, she ferments & she root cellars. She also has chickens.

Celeste has also enjoyed a longtime relationship with The Old Farmer's Almanac as their astrologer.

Her new book about living lightly on the Earth is coming soon!


Hi Celeste, I bought my first

By Sharron

Hi Celeste,
I bought my first Peony at Costco about 2 months ago.with no buds on it. I think it is a Pink one. I planted it in a pot with ample room to grow and it has been in full sun. It seemed to be doing fine and has now developed brown tips on all the foliage. I would like to plant in the front yard on my property to let it get more established but I understand they do not like to be transplanted. Any suggestions?

Hi Sharon, The peonies that

By Celeste Longacre

Hi Sharon,

The peonies that you buy in pots are meant to be transplanted. I think that the brown tips come from a lack of water--it is almost impossible to water plants in pots enough. Get it in the ground ASAP!

I have had a very healthy

By Patricia Jean Hartman

I have had a very healthy Peonie plant for 4 years. It has yet to grow a single bud. Why? Also I have the same issue with a Hydrangea plant it bloomed 3 years ago & then stopped.

Hi Patricia, Do you feed it?

By Celeste Longacre

Hi Patricia,

Do you feed it? Flowers are somewhat heavy feeders so you need to find some organic material to feed it. Compost or old manure works great. Be sure to buy this from a local nursery or you run the risk of importing a new bug or two.

Don't throw away the ant

By Flora Lim

Don't throw away the ant theory yet. This is the fourth year I'm growing fuchsias and the many buds are not opening. I notice that for the first time, there is not one single ant in sight. We've had more rain than usual this past spring. I don't know what to do with my two hanging pots of fuchsia buds and leaves!

What is the name or nickname

By MightyLair

What is the name or nickname of this particular Fuchsia? It is my favorite, I received one as a birthday present one summer and no other will do. I kept picking the seeds and it almost grew to the ground. Magnificent plant

Hi MightyLair, This one is my

By Celeste Longacre

Hi MightyLair,
This one is my favorite, too. It's called "Dark Eyes." You usually have to get to the nursery when they first put out their fuchsias because this kind seems to go first.

My peonies are covered with

By meandkage

My peonies are covered with buds but refuse to bloom. The plant is healthy. However, there are no ants on my plant. Should I manually break apart the coverings?

Hi Meandkage, I don't really

By Celeste Longacre

Hi Meandkage,
I don't really know, but it might be worth a try.

What is this brown leaves and

By shelley munger

What is this brown leaves and flower, hydragrea.

They do need the ants. My

By Patricia Maryniak

They do need the ants. My friend thought he was doing me a favor one year and sprayed the peony to get rid of the ants. Needless to say, the buds would not open. It is no myth!

I think the ants do

By Sharon Christ

I think the ants do help.....ever taste that nectar....not so sweet ! I believe the ants help.......what else are they good least it makes for some great folk lore.....carry on.........

The "peonies need ants" thing

By JBL55

The "peonies need ants" thing is a myth. Ants are simply attracted to the sweet nectar, and peonies will open regardless of the presence of ants.

Hi JBL55, You may well be

By Celeste Longacre

Hi JBL55,
You may well be right. I was told that they needed the ants, but perhaps they don't.

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