Wednesday, July 31, 2013

2013 Questions - Chinese Tree Peony Seeds Sprouting

I received this question from Gayle in zone 5:
"Just wondering if you have had any success germinating your Chinese Peony seed order? I ordered the same packages and just sowed them. I hope to get a few new plants from the order, however, it is not as easy to germinate seeds as they say. Do you have any secrets for a successful germination rate?"

Honestly I am relatively new to planting peony seeds. Although I have been growing seeds I've harvested from my own garden since 2007, I have only started growing purchased seeds in the last 3 years. I am a very laissez faire gardener, and generally prefer to let Mother Nature do her thing. So all of my peony seeds are sowed outdoors in beds of topsoil. I usually do not add any fertilizer to these beds.

Chinese Tree Peony Seeds Sowed in Peony Seedling Test Bed

I have noticed so far that the seeds I have harvested myself do seem to germinate at much higher rates than any that I've purchased. I'm not sure if this is a factor of age of the seeds, handling conditions of the seeds, or suitability to my growing zone. The seeds I've raised, harvested, and planted myself are mostly lactiflora hybrids. The seeds I've purchased are mainly various types of species peony seeds and the above mentioned Chinese tree peony seeds. So their origins are far and wide around the US and the globe, and really there's no way for me to know the length of time since the purchased seeds were harvested. Whereas when planting my own seeds, I generally plant them the same season they are havested. I definitely want to give these Chinese Tree Peony Seeds some more time to sprout since it's only been a few months since they were planted. I am curious to see if and how many of these tree peony seeds sprout this coming spring. I will keep you posted on their progress. As you can see, they are all nicely labeled and waiting to germinate!

Monday, July 29, 2013

2013 Manual of the American Peony Society First Edition

First Edition of the American Peony Society Handbook, 1928

I was lucky enough to find a copy of the first edition of the American Peony Society Manual on Ebay for about $30. Unfortunately, the book binding is not in the best condition. However, the print is still legible, and I have started reading it. It tells how the American Peony Society was originally formed, with their original purpose being to straighten out the rampant problem of mislabeled plants, duplications of names, and trying to determine which peonies should be kept in commerce and which discarded. It also gives a finalized list of these peonies with descriptions once they'd been properly identified, condensed, and approved. The next section is about growing the peony. Interestingly enough this section starts out with personal letters from growers all over the North American continent from Canada to Georgia, with all of the southern gardeners mentioning how they don't understand why northern gardeners always say that peonies don't do well in the south. It seems we southern gardeners are still trying to disprove this enduring myth! :-P

APS Handbook - Color Plate of Peony 'Solange'

APS Handbook - Color Plate of Peony 'Walter Faxon'

APS Handbook - Color Plate of Peony 'Mikado'

Thursday, July 25, 2013

2013 Monrovia Itoh Peony 'Misaka'™ 美 (Beautiful Blossom) & Itoh Peony 'Takara'™ 慈悲 (Treasure)

Today I got an email from one of my favorite local garden centers saying that select annuals and perennials were 50% off. I called them since I was just there on Monday, and the peonies were only 30% off then. They said they would give me 50% off of the peonies even though there weren't yet marked to 50% off. So I went to the nursery right away and picked out another one of the Monrovia Itoh peonies from their Japanese heritage collection. They had two varieties left that I didn't have yet. I'd purchased 2013 Monrovia Itoh Peony 'Keiko'™ (Adored) a little over a month ago, and one other variety was already sold out. The two they had left were Peony 'Misaka'™ (Beautiful Blossom) & Peony 'Takara'™ (Treasure).
'Misaka'™ 美 (Beautiful Blossom)
Itoh Peony
'Takara'™ 慈悲 (Treasure)
Itoh Peony

I first selected the Peony 'Takara'™ since it was the largest plant, the foliage looked the healthiest, and it had a seed pod on it (so I knew it had bloomed this spring). I also wanted a Peony 'Misaka'™, but the only two they had left were in bad shape, and even 50% off didn't seem like enough. So I asked the staff member if it were possible that they might take more than 50% off for one of those two since they looked so bad. One had very sparse foliage with some blight, and the other one had lots of stunted yellow foliage, which looks like it might have been from over fertilization. The staff member didn't think they would take anything more off, but agreed to check with the management to be sure. When he came back, he said they would take more off of the plant, 75% off! I was very happy at the news, and decided to purchase one of each Peony 'Misaka'™ & Peony 'Takara'™ to put in my Japanese garden. I can't wait to see how lovely these three peonies look next spring when they are all in bloom!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

2013 Purple Tree Peony Seedlings From Ebay UK

Purple Tree Peony Seedlings for Sale on Ebay

I was lucky enough to happen upon these purple tree peony seedlings for sale on Ebay a few weeks ago. Purple is my favorite color, and I couldn't believe how cheap these peony seedlings were selling for. I don't know if these new plants will be true to seed, but I am definitely interested and excited to see what kind of plant and flower these seedlings will turn out to have. I purchased two of these seedlings on July 14th, and they arrived in the mail yesterday - Royal Mail! :-) These plants are from Blandford, Dorset, United Kingdom. It seems they don't get as cold there in the winter, and they also do not get as hot in the summer. Their temperatures are much more stable than they are here in NC. So I'm curious to see how the plant adjusts to our weather here.

Purple Tree Peony Seedlings from the UK

The plants were definitely stressed from their international voyage, and I'm sure the summer weather here didn't help them much. However they were still a bit moist even though the soil was a bit shaken up. The leaves started to turn brown on the edges, but even if they go dormant now, I think they will still survive. At least I hope they will. That's why I bought two, just in case! I did get a good look at the roots on these since the soil was shaken up quite a bit, and the roots on at least one of them looked really healthy. On one of the plants I noticed the seed was still attached to the peony root where it sprouted, and I have never seen a peony seed this BIG before!!! I put a ruler next to it and another normal sized tree peony seed next to it for reference. The peony seed from this purple tree peony looks a little over 5/8", where the normal peony seed looks a little under 3/8". That's a big difference! Well I guess we'll see what these giant seeded peonies can do!
Purple Tree Peony Seedling
Purple Tree Peony Seed

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

2013 RHS Peony Bloom Color Chart Coding

I have been working on collecting data on my peony blooms' petal color for 4 years now. I use the RHS Mini Colour Chart for the bloom color groupings. I think I have a pretty good start on this project by now, so I can start posting some of my data, and will continue to update it in the future. I am dedicating a new page for this information called Peony Bloom Colors. Hopefully this information will help people in identifying unknown peonies, creating gardening and landscaping plans for their properties, and selecting just the right color of peony for their gardens.

2010 Peony Bloom Color Coding
2012 Peony Colors

RHS Mini Colour Chart for Peony Bloom Coding

The first year I collected data, I had 84 peony varieties color coded. This year I have 139 peony bloom colors documented. Please keep in mind that there is undoubtedly a margin of error in this information since it is all subjective. However these categorizations should be mostly accurate, and hopefully helpful in describing and grouping these peony bloom colors. Also please note that these color codings were taken on the first day of the open bloom, as peony bloom colors tend to fade over time. Some favorable controls in this information are that these peonies are all grown in the same location and the data was all collected by the same person. Also the standard disclaimer applies about the display of the color on different monitors. So please use these peony bloom color groupings as a general guide. :-) If you notice any variety that is grouped in a wildly different color category that what it should be listed in, please notify me, as I may have received a mislabeled peony from the grower. Thank you!