Problem with peony tree

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It sounds like the main problem is your soil.

Peonies thrive in deep, fertile, humus-rich, moist, well-drained soil. In such lovely, rich soil, they enjoy full sun or part shade. The ideal type of part shade is the shade of high overhead trees, rather than the deep shade cast by a building. Since your soil is heavy and sandy, with only a little organic matter, the plant is likely to be drying out too quickly and/or the soil may be too alkaline. I think you should lift the whole plant in the fall, careful not to damage the roots. Set it aside, sprinkle with a little water and cover it with a dark plastic bag to keep the roots moist. Then dig a good foot of compost or well-composted manure into the planting area. Dig it in over an area several feet across. Dig down about 12 to 18 inches so that the soil is well loosened and the organic matter evenly incorporated. That way you will also know if there is a layer of hard pan in your soil’s profile. If so, this must be broken up or it will impede root growth and water movement. Replant the tree peony, add some bone meal, and water deeply. Keep it well watered if the autumn weather is dry.

In about March, you can begin to scatter some all-purpose fertilizer around the crown of the plant, to encourage strong growth. another application of organic mulch next April would also help to retain moisture

Species tree peonies (Paeonia lutea, for example) are most likely to be grown from seed, but the fancy types of tree peonies are grafted. You can see the mark on the main trunk where this has been done. If the shoot on your peony came from below that point, it will not be the same as what grew from above the graft. Nonetheless, it should be a very attractive plant.

Tree peonies are generally hardy to zone 4. That means it should be safe in a container in zone 6 and warmer. The dramatic foliage is handsome in a container. Once again, be sure to use top quality potting soil so its roots can grow deeply.