is very common and potentially dangerous for your tree peony. Most
tree peonies are sold as a graft on the root of an herbaceous peony. This
is called a nurse root and should just keep the tree peony going until
the TP has its own roots and is healthy, sometimes these nurse roots begin
to grow and can take over a tree peony.
what to do if the graft is below the ground and that the tree peony has
its own roots. You can only tell this by digging up the whole plant in
the fall (after August in most locations). Locate the nurse root-usually
thick and red-brown, the tree peony roots will be white and thinner. Often
the graft is marked by a major swelling in the nurse root.
If the TP has good roots of its own proceed on to #3. If you see no TP
roots and the graft was not planted deeply enough do the following:
remove all the nurse root suckers close to the nurse root.
cut the nurse root by a third or so
plant it deeper with the graft union much deeper-at least 3 or 4 inches
of the tp below soil level. You can also make a slight scratch in the tp
and dust with a rooting hormone.
wait a year or two and follow #3 below
If the TP has good roots - at least 2 or 3 roots 6 to 8 inches long, you
should locate the graft union and remove ALL of the nurse roots. Usually
the nurse roots are fairly fleshy, while the base of the TP will be woody.
Keep cutting the nurse root back until you feel the resistance of the TP.
BE VERY CAREFUL that you do not remove the TP roots.
so that the TP roots are about 3-4 inches lower than before. Fertilize
with 10-10-10 and keep well watered.
will remove all the nurse root suckers and allow the TP to grow faster
and stronger on its own roots.
NOT try this in the spring as it will surely kill the plant, but cut off
all herbaceous peony suckers and keep well fertilized and watered.
Best of luck