wintering peonies

Hi,
I planted my first peonies this year and am looking forward to enjoying the blooms next spring.
It's turned chilly here in MO and I notice the leaves on my two small plants are turning gold and brown. Is this normal for peonies? Or are they lacking something? Should I be fertilizing them before it turns really cold?
Dawn
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Mine die back to the ground here in Atlanta - when you first see signs of growth next spring, it is time to put out one of those hoop things that support the flowers. Peonies come up so fast you can almost watch them grow.
When they are all brown this fall, you can cut them back. If you peek way down into the center, you'll see the little red tips still there.
Gorgeous flower! Takes about 3 years to really get big. I have about 12 or 15 now.
You will probably get ants on the flowers in the spring. That's OK - but when you cut the flowers, submerge them upside down in a bucket of water for a few minutes and all the ants will depart. Ants LOVE peonies.
Dawn wrote:

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Hi Dawn,
I like to wait until they begin to yellow thoroughly, then I cut them down and remove all the stems and leaves-- letting them dieback and having the vegetative matter on the ground is a great way to invite botrytis appearing next year. I then lay down a nice helping of bone meal and composted manure, followed by sand (instead of mulch, which also harbors botrytis more readily) and it's all set for the winter.
Dave

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As others have said, you should just let them die back and then clean-up the area. Removing the dead foliage will reduce the possibility of carrying diseases over to the next year. In general, I would discourage fertilizing anything late in the season. This is particularly true for high nitrogen fertilizers. Encouraging growth just as the weather turns cold is a bad idea.
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