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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Friday - November 06, 2015

From: North Merrick, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Planting, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Competition between peony and bulbs
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I am planting 3 herbaceous peony bare roots 3 feet apart from each other. I am told it will take 3 years before I get blooms. In the meantime, can i safely plant springtime flowering bulbs in the 3 foot distance that I've alloted between 2 peonies? Will the bulbs significantly rob nutrients from the bareroot plants?

ANSWER:

Yes, it  should be fine to plant bulbs in the space between your peonies, as long as they are not under the expected peony vegetative drip line for the first year or so.  If you need tips on planting your peonies,check out this article.  North American native bulbs are not as popular as some exotic species, but here is a sample.

As the bulbs sprout and bloom most of their nutrients will be released from storage in the bulbs themselves.  As the bulb flowers fade, give the plants, including the peonies, a balanced fertilizer.

 

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