Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017 Tree Peony 'White Phoenix' Growing in January

Yes, this is a tree peony that is growing in January. It is only just starting its growth cycle, but it is starting. When I've seen tree peonies growing so early in the season in previous years, it was worrisome to me. I didn't and still do not have tons of experience with tree peonies. However, I am beginning to learn that these mighty beauties begin their growth cycle much earlier than herbaceous peonies. Also the buds of tree peonies seem to be much more impervious to winter weather (although not invincible). Since almost all of the tree peony's flower buds are above ground all winter long, these buds are built to withstand the cold temperatures and weather fluctuations that can be experienced in a winter to spring warm up transition.

Tree Peony 'White Phoenix'
Beginning to Grow in January

This is likely another reason that tree peonies have a reputation of growing well in Southern climates. Since tree peonies' flower buds are formed in the fall, and remain on the tree peony stem tips all winter long, they are able to accumulate more chilling hours on their buds than herbaceous peony buds, which are at or below the soil surface all winter long. This is yet another reason to plant your herbaceous peonies as close to the soil surface as possible in Southern climates. This allows the buds to accumulate the chilling hours needed to flower. So if you grow tree peonies in a Southern climate, and you notice that they begin to grow so much earlier than your herbaceous peonies, do not fear. The foliage will not be harmed and the buds will likely be just fine too...


  1. White Phoenix was my very first tree peony! Just started collecting more in the last few years but I don't think any will ever catch up with this one--think I had 30 buds last spring on a peony that has been in place 9 years.

    1. Liz,

      That's awesome! I don't think 'White Phoenix' was my first tree peony, but it seems to have been the one to survive and thrive on its own without much input from me. Mine will only be 4 years old this year, but I am looking forward to having it grow larger and larger each year! :-)