Wednesday, October 21, 2015

2015 Rock Garden Peonies Do Not Grow Here

Peony Plant Tags Removed from Dead Rock Garden Peonies

Well, after many years of trying, and many dead rock garden peonies that have eventually disintegrated into nothingness, I have concluded that Rock Garden Peonies DO NOT Grow Here. Yes they came from a reputable seller, and yes, there were treated well here - to some of the best spots in my garden. Despite year after year of trying to hang on, they have all finally given up the ghost. Sometimes I got one flower out of them - like their last hurrah before they gave up. The list of the dead and dying goes on - Peony 'Earlybird', Peony 'Elfin Beauty', Peony 'Fairy Princess', Peony 'Lil' Sweetie', Peony 'Little Red Gem', Peony 'Squirt'...

Peony 'Lil' Sweetie'
2009 Bloom
Peony 'Earlybird'
2011 Bloom

Oh, that photo of all those miniature peonies in that cool looking rock garden is just so appealing. However I feel resigned to say that I won't be spending (read: wasting) any more of my hard earned dollars on peonies that do not grow here. However hard to admit, I will be leaving those cute little, diminutive rock garden peonies to all those Northern peony gardeners. The page for their Rock Garden Peonies even says "Recommended to be hardy in USDA Zones 3-7." I am in Zone 7b, and they are not even close to hardy here. They should change it to USDA Zones 3-6 - at least take out Zone 7.


  1. My sense is that most of the "Rock Garden" types involve species that need cold winter temperatures. Slowly but surely, some quite short conventional herbaceous types are beginning to show up for hybridizers though ("The Little Corporal", for one ) and while they may not have the distinctive foliage that some of the rock garden types have, they may fulfill a role in the more foreground areas of the border.

    1. Bob,

      I feel quite sure you are correct in your hypothesis. I think all of the rock garden peonies I've purchased have now died out. I'd be curious to see how the new, short herbaceous varieties do here, but I'm not going to spend the high dollars needed to do that experiment. If someone wanted to send me some, I'd be more than glad to test them out. However I have an idea that those cute looking, short peonies that grow well in the North are really just herbaceous peonies with a genetic variation/defect that causes them to be shorter/not as vigorous and will likely not grow well here either...