Sunday, March 11, 2018

2018 Top 5 Herbaceous Peonies by Stem Count

Southern Peony Top 5 Herbaceous by Stem Count

Now here we go to round out the rest of our Top 5 by stem count list, this time for herbaceous peonies. If you missed our 2018 Top 5 Intersectional Peonies by Stem Count article yesterday, you should definitely check that one out. So the herbaceous peonies have been growing much longer in my garden than my intersectionals, but the intersectionals have much higher stems counts. So while herbaceous peonies do grow here, intersectionals seem to grow much better! I only started my main intersectional peony garden bed in 2012, 2012 Intersectional Peony Garden Planting, but it has really taken off!

Back to the topic at hand, Top 5 Herbaceous Peonies by Stem Count... Just like I had a few caveats for my Intersectional Top 5 by Stem Count, I also have a few caveats for this list as well, but they are mostly to the credit of the peonies on this list. All of the herbaceous peonies on this list were started bareroot. These were not babied and grown in a pot. These were roots in a bag, in a box, through the mail, etc. And they have all grown into quite fine specimens.

Also two of these peonies have been divided before, and have now grown back in size to be in this Top 5 by Stem Count list. A section of my Peony 'Do Tell' was donated in the 2013 APS Peony Donation to JC Raulston Arboretum. Also a section of my Peony 'Coral Charm' was donated to the same arborteum in 2013 as well. So not only are these two peonies great at growing here in the South, they are also great plants that divide well and grow back to a large size in just a few years. Peony 'Coral Charm' seems to grow up from any pieces you've left in the ground (adventitious roots). So the more you chop this one up and divide it, the more plants pop up around it!

2018 Top 5 Intersectional Peonies by Stem Count

Herbaceous Peony
Stem Count
Year Acquired
Peony 'Coral Charm'
Peony 'Do Tell'
Peony 'Gilbert Barthelot'
Peony 'Coral Fay'
Peony 'Paul M. Wild'

So what does all of this mean for you? Well, some of these are the oldest peonies in my garden, yes. So they've had a long time to grow to obtain this size. However 2 of them have been divided and have still been able to regrow enough to be in the Top 5, Peony 'Coral Charm' and Peony 'Do Tell'. Peony 'Coral Charm' and Peony 'Do Tell' are also Southern Peony Best Performers, 2015 Peony 'Coral Charm' Best Performer - Week 2 and 2012 Peony 'Do Tell' Best Performer - Week 4. If you want reliable herbaceous peonies, that will come back year after year for you in the South, these peonies are definitely it.


  1. While it may seem obvious that some peonies increases stems at higher rates than others, it's a quality that one does not hear mentioned much. In my hybridizing work, I've had occasion to grow as many as 125 seedlings from a single cross, and the variations one sees in vigor and stem increase are often quite notable. Having said that, some slow stem-increasers such as Raspberry Charm certainly qualify as vigorous peonies, so vigor can involve several factors. None the less, among seedlings one will often get some that are almost frighteningly vigorous, and are worth keeping for breeding purposes for that quality alone.

    Bob Johnson

    1. Bob,

      I agree! I think having a peony that is vigorous is essential, especially if we are to increase the range in which peonies are thought to (and do) grow in. The peonies that actually do grow well here in the South are often good increasers as well.