Q. Can I use hoops to keep my peonies upright?
It is important to support your peony plants with a ring early in the season before they become too leafy. Without the ring, the plant may not be able to hold its heavy blooms above the ground where they can be appreciated and its branches may break under the load.
Garden centers offer all sorts of wire-ring and linking-stake supports for peonies and other perennials, but most of these are surprisingly pricey. A less expensive option is to cut a wire-ring tomato tower in half just above one of the rings, so you have two shorter towers. Use the narrower one for newly-planted peonies or smaller perennials, and the wider one for mature peonies. Set it over the plant, pushing the legs securely into the soil. The earlier you do it the better, because once the plant has leafed out you’ll need a helper – or twine – to contain the foliage while you slip the support over it. Leave some stems and foliage outside the support for a more relaxed, natural-looking plant and to hide the wire which is virtually invisible in any case, especially once it rusts. There is more information on this topic from Old House Gardens.
If you want custom metal supports for your peonies, like the ones at NYBG, they are available from Bob Keating Metal Works. You should be aware that the supports at NYBG are painted with a weather resistant black paint annually but they come from the metal worker with a natural steel finish. Some gardeners are worried when this finish begins to rust, but this phase is short-lived! Keating recommends that if you are a home gardener you skip the annual maintenance and allow the supports to patina naturally. They will quickly go from rusty to a uniform, dark, brown color that looks at home in the garden.
The NYBG Shop in the Garden frequently carries the supports. You can call to see if they are in stock or if the shop can get them for you at 718 817-8073/8149.
Courtesy of the NYBG Plant Information