Articles about Peony foliage
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Thursday, March 17, 2022

2022 Seeing Green (Peonies) on St. Patrick's Day!

Peony & Iris

On this St. Patrick's Day, I wanted to reflect not on being lucky or making our own luck, but on gratitude for all the things we have to feel lucky for. There are so many sad events going on all over the world that have a real impact and toll on people, and I do wish for peace for all of those in turmoil. I think with that, the current state of the world should help us all reflect not just on the small things in life that we may sometimes under appreciate, our safety, our freedom, our health, our food and water, our homes (and gardens!)...

Daffodils & Peony 'Flame'

Peony 'Flame'

We should also reflect on how we as small part of the larger human whole can all do our part to be kind to each other on a daily basis, and kind not just to those who look like us or talk like us or dress like us, but kind to everyone, and kind to those especially that are different. For when we push a part of the human whole into the "other", we create unnecessary conflict. It is up to all of us to do our parts to welcome and include and be kind to all humans, because we are all human.

Tree Peony, Hellebores, & Camellias

So I wanted to take a small part of my St. Patrick's Day today to be thankful for even just seeing the slow and steady passage of time through nature, the tiny green growth springing forth from the ground. The renewal and rebirth of life, that faithfully returns, ever hopeful, a reminder of the good in nature that we are all a part of...

Friday, May 15, 2020

2020 Giant Leaves on Herbaceous Peony 'Juliska'!!

Herbaceous Peony 'Juliska' Giant Leaves 10 Inches Across

So the foliage on the Peony 'Juliska' is not as large as the foliage that grew on my 2013 Peony Foliage on Steriods! Peony 'Bowl of Cream'. However it is still really, really big. I am wondering if this Peony 'Juliska' foliage will grow this large every year or if something just happens some years that causes this monstrous foliage. My Peony 'Bowl of Cream' foliage is large, but I don't think I've ever seen it grow quite as large as it did in 2013. This Peony 'Juliska' plant is still quite young. This is only the second year of growth for it. It had a flower on it the first year. I probably should have pinched the bud off to let the plant store more energy, but I really wanted to see it flower so I didn't pinch it off.

Herbaceous Peony 'Juliska' Grows Giant Leaves

Herbaceous Peony 'Juliska' in Planting Bed
Foliage Much Larger than Other Herbaceous Peonies

To give you some perspective, I snapped the photo about with Peony 'Juliska' in the bottom center of the photo. It is planted near Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt' and Peony 'Lake o' Silver'. As a comparison the foliage on this Peony 'Juliska' plant is just huge compared to the foliage of the other two herbaceous peonies. The foliage of those other two herbaceous peonies is much more pointed and smaller. This Peony 'Juliska' foliage is really rounded and much larger. One compound leaf grew 10 inches across and 6 inches high, and a leaf node grew 4 inches wide. Only time will tell how this Peony 'Juliska' grows in the future. I will keep my eye on her...

Herbaceous Peony 'Juliska'
Single Compound Leaf

Herbaceous Peony 'Juliska' Leaf Height 6 Inches

Herbaceous Peony 'Juliska' Leaf Width 4 Inches

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

2020 Tree Peony 'High Noon' with 2 Kinds of Foliage?

Tree Peony 'High Noon' with 2 Kinds of Foliage - 3/27

Have you ever noticed your tree peony have 2 kinds of foliage? If so, you really need to remove one of them. Which one? The one that's not growing from the woody stems. You see, tree peonies are mostly grafted plants, meaning they take a branch from a very large and mature tree peony and graft or meld it to the root of an herbaceous peony. Usually those herbaceous peony roots are grown from some random no-good herbaceous peony seed. They just grow lots of those herbaceous peony seeds to get a large crop of very young (and hopefully vigorous) peony roots on which to graft their tree peony stems.

Tree Peony 'High Noon' with 2 Kinds of Foliage - 3/27

Tree Peony 'High Noon' with 2 Kinds of Foliage - 4/13

Still not sure which foliage to remove? Take a look at the photos. The herbaceous peony foliage is very shiny and slick. The tree peony foliage is more dull and softer. Also take a look at the leaves on each branch of the foliage. The herbaceous peony leaves are more pointed and usually come to a defined tip. The tree peony leaves are more spreading and usually have small cuts in them. Hopefully you've been able to identify which foliage is herbaceous and which foliage is tree peony now. So now all you need to do is cut the herbaceous peony stem or stems all the way down, right at or just below the soil surface.

Tree Peony 'High Noon' with 2 Kinds of Foliage - 4/16

Tree Peony 'High Noon' with 2 Kinds of Foliage - 4/16

If you're curious to see just what kind of flower that herbaceous peony nurse root might make, I have saved you the trouble. I decided to let the herbaceous nurse root bloom this year since it had an obvious bud on it that looked like it would mature. As you can see the flower is nothing to speak of at all. It is very small, very tiny, with very short petals, kind of sad actually. If you think about it, no one is going to graft a beautiful herbaceous peony (and valuable - that they could otherwise sell) to the bottom of a tree peony. So it is really best to remove this herbaceous peony foliage from your tree peony as soon as you notice it, so that any energy stored in that herbaceous root is not lost to the herbaceous foliage, flower, or seed development. You really want that herbaceous nurse root to use all of its energy to help the tree peony grow and become established. Happy Growing!!

Tree Peony 'High Noon' with 2 Kinds of Foliage - 4/21

Tree Peony 'High Noon' with 2 Kinds of Foliage - 4/21

Thursday, April 16, 2020

2020 Intersectional Peony 'Strawberry Crème Brûlée' Red Spring Foliage

Intersectional Peony 'Strawberry Crème Brûlée'
Red Spring Foliage

I was enamored to see this gorgeous red spring foliage on my Intersectional Peony 'Strawberry Crème Brûlée' this year. Even though the plant is not large enough to entertain me with its blooms, it is definitely entertaining me with the foliage! I remember seeing a difference between the foliage of this one and the other small potted intersectional peonies I purchased at the same time when 2019 Spring Hill Nursery Peony Order Arrives. Having such unique foliage seems promising for this peony to be true to name. I can't wait to see what these 'Strawberry Crème Brûlée' blooms look like when this intersectional peony does grow large enough to flower! :-)

Intersectional Peony 'Strawberry Crème Brûlée' Sign

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

2020 Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' Grows Intersectional Foliage

Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' 3/22

Well, I am excited to report that I finally have intersectional peony foliage on my Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious'. I purchased this Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' from K. Van Bourgondien this time, 2020 Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' Arrives from K. Van Bourgondien. Unlike the first time I tried to purchase it from Tulip World, when I actually got herbaceous peony foliage, 2018 Tulip World Offers Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' for $12.95! You can see how this peony foliage is already showing hints of the intersectional peony foliage in the first photo with the pointy cut leaf edges already starting to poke out.

Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' 3/30

I have both the Tulip World (fake/herbaceous) peony and the K. Van Bourgondien (presumably correct intersectional) peony planted side by side now, and it looks like the herbaceous peony (fake 'Scrumdidleyumptious') may actually bloom this year. I will have to post a picture of the flower if/when it does bloom this year. The price on these two was a bit different - $12.95 vs. $35.00, which goes along with the saying, you get what you pay for! I am just relieved to have intersectional peony foliage this time. It makes me feel a lot better on the accuracy of this Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' identity. Now just to wait to see it bloom!!! :-)

Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' 4/1

Sunday, March 22, 2020

2020 Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine' Grows Intersectional Foliage

Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine' on 3/19

I am happy to report that my Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine' plant I ordered from Spring Hill Nursery, 2020 Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine' at Spring Hill Nursery, is growing intersectional peony foliage! So that actually bodes well in my opinion to the end result being favorable for the peony being the actual cultivar purchased. If you were holding out to see how these fared in my garden before deciding to purchase one, now might be the time to snag one (or two like I did) of these intersectional peonies. Uh oh, too late. I just checked the Spring Hill web site, and it looks like these are out of stock. I hope some of you were able to get one before they sold out!

Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine' on 3/11

These were originally small potted plants without any actual foliage when they arrived, 2020 Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine' Arrives from Spring Hill Nursery, just a small pinkish bud on each of them that was ready to pop! However as you can see from the photos, a hint of their foliage was apparent. The tiny folded up foliage appeared to show the signature jagged edges of intersectional peony foliage (a trait they receive from their tree peony parent), which is quite different than the rounded edges of herbaceous peony foliage. As the foliage unfolded the leaf structure become more and more apparent. Now it is obvious that these are certainly intersectional peony plants.

Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine' on 3/13

Also notice the structure of the stem. The stems on these are much shorter than immature herbaceous peonies, and they have a sort of "stacked" appearance, whereas new herbaceous peony foliage tends to send up a longer, taller shoot. Now both of the plant I purchased from Spring Hill have grown into small, healthy intersectional peony plants. I can't wait to see how these look when they bloom. Now the waiting begins... This is definitely going to take a few years. I hope these peonies are worth the wait, as I haven't seen this cultivar offered anywhere else yet!

Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine' on 3/16

Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine' on 3/18

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

2020 Black Purple Emerging Foliage of Peony 'Dark Chocolate' to Die For!

Peony 'Dark Chocolate'

I couldn't help but notice (again!) the foliage on herbaceous Peony 'Dark Chocolate'! Even if the flowers weren't super cool, the foliage on this bad boy would be awesome enough of a reason to grow it! As you can see the foliage is a purple-black color, and even with a flash photo and lots of fill light, the color of the foliage is still quite dark. It is very different than your normal pink/green emerging foliage. The leaves will eventually turn green, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying the rare color of the foliage. It is really cool to see all of the different emerging foliage colors.

Peony 'Dark Chocolate' (Flash Photo)

Peony 'Dark Chocolate'

I don't have any peony flowers open here yet. So it is nice to have some cool things to entertain you in the garden while we anticipate those large, colorful blooms. It is fun to watch the new foliage emerging on all kinds of garden plants. It always looks so clean, bright, and fresh - free from disease, fungal infections, or pest damage. Spring is definitely the best season! I hope you have lots of peony foliage colors popping up in your garden. If not, now might be the time to add some peonies with cool foliage colors to your Peony Wish List to order and plant this fall!

Peony 'Dark Chocolate' (Flash Photo)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

2020 Song Sparrow Offers Peony 'Golden Angel' for $36 (from $125)

Song Sparrow Offers 'Golden Angel' for $36 (from $125)

I really can't believe this one! I'm thinking this really must be a price mistake. I would go ahead and order one right away just in case. I don't know if you've seen the 2020 Southern Peony Herbaceous Hot 100 Price List yet or not, but... Song Sparrow dropped the price of Peony 'Golden Angel' from $125 last year to $36 this year. I'm not sure if they are just getting rid of this variety or what, but this is an awesome price for this peony! I don't grow this one yet, but I have been wanting it for a long, long time. THE best thing about this peony is its Foliage! Check out the photos of how it goes from a bright orange to super yellow, to neon yellow green! I have already ordered one myself from Song Sparrow and can't wait to see it in action!! I hope you can snag one too!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

2019 Weak Peony Stems Knocked Down by Torrential Wind and Rain

Peony 'Lemon Chiffon' Stem Knocked Down

I'm not sure that I've ever seen a massacre quite like this one. Yes, usually the weakest stems that are most susceptible to botrytis blight will usually succumb to its stem withering powers. However we've had quite the rain these last couple of days and weeks (maybe for the last year). We've had a few thunderstorms that have been quite mighty with pummeling rain and punishing winds. So I have lots of peonies in my garden whose weaker outer stems have fallen in this tragedy. These two peonies, Peony 'Lemon Chiffon' and Peony 'Horizon', are just a couple of examples of the casualties.

Peony 'Lemon Chiffon' Outer Stems Knocked Down

Some of these buds may have opened had it not been as windy. Too bad that all of buds never seem to make it to opening day for one reason or another. It would have been nice to see these peonies in bloom with even more open flowers on each bush. Oh well, I guess I will cut them off before the weakened stems transmit the disease to the healthier parts of the peony plant. No sense crying over spilled milk, I suppose. There are still lots of other blooms in the garden waiting to open!

Peony 'Horizon' Stem Knocked Down

Peony 'Horizon' Outer Stems Knocked Down

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

2019 Questions - Intersectional Peonies How to Cut Back Stems with Buds

Intersectional Peonies with Above Ground Buds

I received this question from Joy in zone 8a:

"First and foremost, thank you for having a most informative website on one of my most loved flowering plants."

"I am writing to you today, as I’m just now getting out into the garden and tidying up my peonies, which I usually cut them back in the fall. I noticed that my Itoh Peony Julia Rose (I have 2 and planted them in 2012) have developed eyes on last years dead stems and as normal, eyes also stemming from the ground. I’ve never seen this before and thought perhaps that it was a result of not cutting them back in the fall. I’m not sure how to proceed with spring clean up and thought to seek your most valuable advice."

"Thank you for your time and look forward to your guidance."

Intersectional Peonies with Above Ground Buds

Actually intersectional (also called Itoh) peonies can grow and bloom from woody stems grown in previous years (especially in our warmer Southern climates). I actually did an experiment to see what would happen with those stems, 2011 Peony Experiments - Intersectional Blooms. So when you are cleaning up your intersectional peonies that have woody stems in place, be sure to keep those stems where you can visibly see a red growth bud at the top. Then just pick off any old leaves or foliage from that stem. For all of the other stems, cut them back to the first red growth bud that you see. You can make the cut a little above the growth bud, leaving an inch or a half inch or so.

I usually wait to cut back my intersectional peonies later than the rest of my peonies, usually late winter (sometimes early spring if I'm really behind). It is possible that some of those above ground stems could get killed over the winter and some may not. By waiting to cut them back later in the winter season, you'll then know which ones will grow and which ones were killed. That way you can cut back any that didn't make it. If I do happen to cut my intersectional peonies back early (in late fall), then I generally leave all stems with buds on them, cutting them back to the first pink bud. Sometimes they don't all make it through the winter, though.

I hope you enjoy your 'Julia Rose' Intersectional Peonies this spring! Take Care and Happy Growing!

Intersectional Peonies with Above Ground Buds

Sunday, March 3, 2019

2019 The Corals are Coming! Peonies That Is

Coral Peonies Popping Up

It's that time. The foliage on my coral herbaceous peonies always starts to appear earlier than any of my other herbaceous peonies. (That doesn't mean they will bloom first, though.) It is already up several inches. Pictured here (from left to right) are Peony 'Coral Sunset', Peony 'Coral Charm', and Peony 'Tropicana'. It looks like Peony 'Tropicana' is winning the race this year. It is definitely the tallest peony in the garden so far. Peony 'Coral Charm' is usually the tallest one. I'm wondering if the extra mulch I added around it might have slowed it down this year. I can't wait for the all of my peonies to start blooming! The first ones are always the sweetest.

We have a few nights of sub-freezing temperatures coming up this week. So I'm glad most of my peonies are still below ground. It's going to be in the 20s overnight for at least 3 nights this week, it looks like (starting tomorrow night!). I'm not sure if I will try protecting this this time or not. While I try to wait out these last few days (or weeks - we'll see!) of winter weather, I can still dream about the gorgeous blooms to come! Here's a few photos of these three coral beauties taken last year so we can all start dreaming of our springtime peony blooms now...! Happy Dreaming!

Peony 'Coral Sunset'

Peony 'Coral Charm'

Peony 'Tropicana'

Friday, February 15, 2019

2019 It's Starting! Herbaceous Peonies are Growing!

I can't believe it is starting already. I found a few of my existing herbaceous peonies that I've had for years that have decided to start growing. Spring will be here before we know it! The first three I've found so far this year are Peony 'Tropicana', Peony 'Pink Hawaiian Coral, and Peony 'America'. Also the Peony 'Glowing Candles' that sprouted super early, 2019 Peony 'Glowing Candles' Tries to Grow Again in January, has been hanging on for a while now. It is very determined and even has two foliage shoots now! However I'm not sure yet if I will see a bloom from it this spring or not. It is just so exciting beginning to see the first signs of spring. My hellebores are coming into full bloom now, and the daphnes have been heavily perfuming the air - what a gorgeous and good smelling preview of what's to come!

Peony 'Tropicana'

Peony 'Pink Hawaiian Coral'

Peony 'America'

Peony 'Glowing Candles'

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

2019 Peony 'Glowing Candles' Tries to Grow Again in January

Well, the first sprout on my newly planted Peony 'Glowing Candles' has already died. Back in November, shortly after I planted this peony root (in October), it sprouted the first time, 2018 Song Sparrow Peony Root Sprouting in the Fall. Now it's January, and it is sprouting again. We always have weird winter weather here in NC. You never really know what you're going to get, like the 2018 7 Inches of Snow on Southern Peony Gardens! we got this December. It was 71 degrees on January 1st for the high and 31 degress on the 21st for the high. It's mostly been in the 50s, 60s, or 40s for the high, but we've had some much colder weather so far this week. The 17 degree overnight temperatures we've had this week have surely done it in again. I just hope this thing has some eyes left (and energy) come spring!

Peony 'Glowing Candles' Growing Again in January

The more I think about this, the more I feel sure this root must have been refrigerated for some time (maybe even an extended period of time). I bought this root from the 2018 Fall Peony Sale @ Song Sparrow where they had 7 select peony varieties on sale for $19.95. The varieties they put on sale were 'David Harum', 'Glowing Candles', 'Green Lotus', 'High Adventure', 'Honey N Cream', 'Jubilee Pink', and 'Scarlet O'Hara'. I'm guessing those 7 varieties must have been overstocked and were in need of being sold, thus the price markdown. I couldn't resist buying Peony 'Glowing Candles', though, because it just looks so lovely. I'm wondering if anyone else who bought a root or two from this sale has had the same experience as me with having them sprout early (just curious)...

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"?