Carsten Burkhardt's Web Project Paeonia - The Peony Library

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The Manual of the American Peony Society


Copyright 1928 by American Peony Society

217_importation of peonies


By Dr. Charles L. Marlatt

editor's note.—Dr. Marlatt is Chairman of the Federal Horticultural Board to supervise enforcement of the "Plant Quarantine Act" passed by Congress, August 20, 1912. He is a well-known entomologist, a member of several scientific societies, and the author of many papers and bulletins on systematic and economic entomology and on plant quarantine.

PEONIES fall in the class of ornamental plants which may be imported in limited quantities only, for the purpose of keeping the country supplied with new varieties and necessary propagating stock or for any necessary experimental, educational, or scientific purpose, as provided for in Regulation 14 of Quarantine 37. The necessity for limiting the entry of ornamentals to such necessary public-service purposes is indicated in the two following paragraphs.

Imported nursery stock and other plants and seeds have been the source of the introduction of some 90 per cent of the insect pests and plant diseases which have come to us from other countries and which now occasion losses to our agriculture and forestry of approximately one billion dollars annually. Hitherto such material has often come with the roots embedded in earth, and practically always it is promptly taken to the field or greenhouse where other plants are growing, thus furnishing the best possible conditions for the local establishment of any insect pests or plant diseases which may be carried by the plants or in soil about their roots.

A practical test over a seven-year period of the possibility of safeguarding plant imports by inspection and disinfection plainly indicated the inadequacy of this method, and the conclusion was forced that the only possible means of effectively lessening the introduction of new plant enemies is the policy of exclusion of all plants not absolutely essential to the agricultural and forestry needs of the United States. Carrying out this policy, Quarantine 37 restricts the entry of most nursery stock and other ornamentals to certain purposes which are believed to be necessary to the development of American horticulture. Unlimited entry is permitted of certain classes of plants which are believed to be most free from the risk of carriage of new

218_peony don'ts



pests, such as seeds, certain classes of bulbs, and cuttings, scions, and buds of fruits; and also, as representing what is believed to be a temporary horticultural necessity, fruit and rose stocks. The entry of all other plants is restricted, but, to enable America to keep abreast with the horticultural progress of the world, any such restricted plants which are either new or unavailable in the United States may be imported for propagation or for any experimental, educational, or scientific purpose. The comparatively limited entry necessary for such purposes is being safeguarded by a thoroughness of inspection and, if necessary, by treatment or holding in quarantine—safeguards which are impracticable of application to unlimited commercial or other importations.

Persons desiring to import peonies for propagation or any other authorized public-service purpose are requested to apply to the Federal Horticultural Board, Washington, D. C., for Circular HB-IO5, which explains in detail the entries which are authorized for such purposes, and for an application blank on which to indicate the material desired which they believe to fall properly within the provisions of the quarantine, giving the full information required in the particular paragraphs concerned in the circular referred to.


1. don't buy from dealers who are not careful in their garden methods and their catalogue lists.

2. don't buy anything smaller than the standard three- to five-eye division.

3. don't divide plants less than two years old.

4. don't plant big clumps or big roots.

5. don't permit manure to come in contact with the roots.

6. don't plant too deep or you will have no bloom—two or three inches to the topmost bud is deep enough.

7. don't try to divide the plant immediately after digging it up. Let it stand in the air an hour or two.

8. don't split roots when dividing if you can possibly avoid it.

9. don't plant where peonies have grown before, without changing the soil.

10. don't fail to disbud if you want exhibition bloom.