Tuesday, November 6, 2018

2018 Song Sparrow Peony Root Sprouting in the Fall

Newly Planted Peony 'Glowing Candles'
Sending Up an Fall Sprout

Awww, man. A peony I ordered from the 2018 Fall Peony Sale @ Song Sparrow and just planted three weeks ago is already sprouting. Of course it looks like a nice sprout that probably would have produced a bud and flower next spring. When this happens it seems like these peonies take so much longer to become established here. It seems like they are just confused, but what is confusing to me is why is this root really sprouting? I have ordered peonies from other vendors in Wisconsin, without this issue. I used to think it was sprouting just because it came from a cooler region of the country, but now I am wondering if it is because this root has already been in some kind of cold storage, and it thinks it has already experienced winter. Now that it has arrived here in my Southern garden, it thinks our temperate autumn days feel like spring (and they probably do).

Peony 'Glowing Candles' Sign

This problem has occurred a several times in the past, but it looks like I've only recorded it here two other times, 2012 Newly Planted Peony Sprouting in Fall and 2016 New Peony Breaking Dormancy Too Early. I seem to remember this happening several times with roots from Song Sparrow, I guess I will have to record this whenever it happens in the future so I can keep a better record of which vendors this happens with. Of the two listed above, one of those was from Song Sparrow (2012), and the other one was from Ebay (2016) - which who knows where that peony root came from originally? The problem with these early sprouts is that they are quickly killed by the cold winter temperature, and the root has just wasted quite a bit of energy sending up this sprout. I never really know what to do with these sprouts, cut them off, let them grow. I worry that if I snap them off, another bud on the same root will try to sprout, wasting another chance for the peony to grow in the spring. I usually end up watching this small, lonely sprout grow as much as it can before winter's cold comes and makes it wither into limp nothingness. :-( What do you do with your fall peony foliage "sprouts"?


  1. I'd guess cold storage as well. As you said though, hard to know what to do with it. Allow it to believe that it got zapped by a spring frost sounds like the best plan to me, and then dropping temps will discourage it further.

    1. Bob,

      Thank you for the vote for cold storage. I'm just wondering how many growers use that method, and what kind of ill effects it might have on root acclimation (and whether they realize it?). Something else to investigate when time permits...