Friday, May 24, 2013

2013 Questions - Herbaceous, Itoh, or Tree Peony

I received this question from Tom in zone 9:
"Hello, Was wondering if you have heard from anyone in the Houston, Texas area (zone 9) that has had success with any of the three kinds of peonies: herbaceous, Itoh, or tree peony. I am experimenting with a couple tree peonies, as well as Festiva Maxima and Sarah Bernhardt. (their second year). Have not tried any of the Itoh's yet, but they are reputed to grow and bloom in zone 9 according to some sources. I had a Duchesse de Nemoir which bloomed for me this past March (10 big blooms) from a field run clump grown and dug in North Carolina. I am presuming it received some winter chill in Dec., early January before I planted it late January. Will see what it does next year since it is a blooming size clump. Any information would be appreciated."

Tree, Intersectional, or Herbaceous Peony

I personally have not spoken with anyone else in the Houston, Texas area. However I did find a question on the Texas A&M web site (which is pretty close to Houston) that seems to imply that some herbaceous peonies can grow there. "Q: Why doesn’t anyone grow peonies here? I just returned from Michigan and while perusing the photo album was reminded of how beautiful and bountiful the peonies are every spring. A: The summer is too hot for most peonies in our area. There are a few heirloom selections that will survive if they are planted in good soil in morning sun. [Note: do an internet search for heat tolerant Paeonia species]" So I feel quite confident that you can grow most peonies there. Herbaceous peonies are usually the least heat tolerant of the three types you mentioned. Tree peonies are generally considered to be the most heat tolerant, then intersectional (Itoh), and then herbaceous being the least heat tolerant. When planting your peonies I would make sure to plant the roots as close to the surface as possible in order to allow them to get as much winter chill as possible. I have had some herbaceous peonies stop blooming for me, only to start again the next spring after I had lifted their roots closer to the surface. It sounds like you are starting quite a collection of peonies. I would definitely recommend adding an intersectional peony as well. I have been very impressed with Peony 'Bartzella'. She is just such a stellar grower, very heat tolerant, loves the sun, multiplies rapidly once established, and divides well too. Also you may want to check out some of my other Southern Peony Best Performers for ideas on other plants that might do well for you. I would love to get a report on your peonies and some pictures too in the future. I would say first and foremost to be patient. Peonies take a long time to establish themselves initially. So give them some extra care and time to adjust to your growing climate. Once they feel at home, they will make a nice plant.

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