Saturday, March 10, 2018

2018 Top 5 Intersectional Peonies by Stem Count

Southern Peony Top 5 Intersectionals by Stem Count

Well, since I've been collecting peony data for 14 years now, and I've got at least 10 years of really good data, I figured I'd better start putting it to good use. Something that Southern gardeners would likely find useful are stem counts for the top 5 peonies in my garden. Since all 5 of those peonies happen to be intersectional peonies, we'll start with those.

Now I will add some caveats. I have divided some peonies. Some were purchased as established plants in a pot. Intersectional Peony 'Bartzella', a Southern Peony Best Performer, surely would have been on this list, had I not divided it and donated sections of it in 2015, 2015 Peony Donation to Historic Whitehall Gardens and 2015 Peony Donation Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden. However 2 of the 5 plants Peony 'Bartzella' plants I have now are just shy of being of size to make this list. So I'm sure Peony 'Bartzella' will appear on this list in the future.

Peony 'Keiko' was purchased in a large multi gallon Monrovia pot, 2013 Monrovia Itoh Peony 'Keiko'™ 愛幕 (Adored), and was well worth the money. I've even won an APS Court of Honor ribbon with a bloom from that plant, 2015 APS Southern Peony Court of Honor Winner - 'Keiko'. Okay, enough of that reminiscing. With no further ado, here it is, the Top 5 Intersectional Peonies growing in my Southern garden by stem count:

2018 Top 5 Intersectional Peonies by Stem Count

Intersectional Peony
Stem Count
Year Acquired
Keiko 愛幕 (Adored) - Pink Double Dandy (Intersectional)
Yellow Crown (Intersectional)
White Emperor (Intersectional)
Little Darlin' (Intersectional)
Pastel Splendor (Intersectional)

Now that you know which intersectional peonies have the most stems in my garden on a single bush, what are you supposed to do? Well run out and buy them, of course. :-) Aside from that what does this data really mean anyway? I would take it to mean that these plants not only grow well in a Southern climate, but grow exceptionally well. They will reliably increase for you, year after year, without dwindling in size. People who want to grow peonies, they want to grow big peonies, but just not big flowers, they want to grow big bushes full of big flowers. These are the peonies with enough vigor in a Southern climate to fit the bill...

Thursday, March 8, 2018

2018 Fresh Layer of Top Soil on Tree Peonies

Fresh Layer of Top Soil on Tree Peonies
Freshly Applied in February

There's only one kind of peony that you can't plant too deep in the South - a tree peony! Most peonies grown in the South (herbaceous peonies) need to be planted with the eyes at ground level. You need to be very careful not to plant them too deep or they will not bloom. The eyes (small pink growth buds) of the peony need to be close to or right at the soil surface so they can collect chilling hours during the winter, enabling the plant to bloom. These peonies are the most common type of peony, herbaceous peonies - the ones whose foliage dies back to the ground every fall/winter.

However tree peonies are a totally different story. Tree peonies have woody stems that persist above ground year to year, and the flower buds develop on these above ground woody stems. Since the buds develop in the cooler above ground air (not within eyes or growth buds at the warmer soil/ground level), the tree peony buds are much more easily able to collect the chilling hours they need to bloom in our Southern climate. Since the buds are above ground on the stems, they cannot be buried in too deeply in the warm earth. Most tree peonies are grafted tree peonies (a branch that is cut from a mature tree peony specimen and is fused with a root from an herbaceous peony). These grafted tree peonies really need to be planted deeply for 2 very important reasons.

Important Reasons to Plant Your Grafted Peony Deep

1. The herbaceous root (or nurse root) that has been grafted to the tree peony stem must be planted far enough underground so that it never has a chance to sprout herbaceous foliage.
(You're trying to grow a tree peony, not some ugly flower from an herbaceous root stock).

2. The tree peony stem needs to be planted as far as possible underground so that it can attempt to grow roots of its own. These tree peony roots can only grow from the tree peony stem. So if you never plant the tree peony's stem below ground, it will not have a chance to grow these tree peony roots. Allowing it to grow its own roots will give the tree peony the opportunity to really take off and establish itself.

Fresh Layer of Top Soil on Tree Peonies
2.5 Weeks Later in March

To this end I like to put a fresh layer of top soil / organic compost around all of my tree peonies every year or two. As you can see I just put this fresh top soil out 2 1/2 weeks ago, and the tree peonies are already enjoying it. Adding this new soil makes sure they are still planted deep enough to attempt to grow some roots of their own, and it also adds a fresh layer of nutrient rich soil right over the tree peony's roots. You can also take this opportunity to sprinkle a little slow release organic fertilizer around them as well. If you do this, I would recommend sprinkling the fertilizer first, then adding the top soil / organic compost on top (or mixing it in). Have you fed your tree peonies yet this year? If not, now is a great time to do so - right before the foliage and blooms appear, giving your tree peonies the nutrition they need to be be best they can be. So what are you waiting for? Your tree peonies are calling you...

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

2018 Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' Goes from 3 Buds to 10 Buds in One Year of Growth!

Tree Peony 'Angel Emily'
Triples Bud Count From Previous Year

I cannot believe it! This is so exciting! I have not grown another tree peony that has grown this well and this quickly. If you like purple (and I do), you really must add this tree peony to your purchase list. Most of the other peonies I have grown have struggled along trying to become established with 1 bud or no buds, trying to send up a shoot, but this peony, this tree peony, Peony 'Angel Emily', is much different. It is so vigorous, and grows so well here in my Southern climate too. Last year this peony had 3 buds and blooms in it's 3rd year of growth, and now it has increased to 10 buds in it's 4th year of growth. That is more than triple the number of blooms than the previous year, very impressive! I can't wait to see how this peony looks when it blooms this year. I will make sure I capture all of its beauty to share here with you all. If you aren't yet convinced this tree peony belongs in your garden, perhaps the spring bloom pictures will do it. They say a picture is worth a thousand words...

Sunday, March 4, 2018

2018 P. Rockii Peony Seedling Has 2 Buds in Second Year of Bloom

Paeonia rockii Seedling with 2 Buds

A Paeonia rockii seedling from a batch of seed I got in 2013 from Ebay, 2013 P. Rockii Peony Seeds from Cricket Hill Garden, has 2 buds on it. The rest of the seedlings from this batch of seed have yet to bloom. It had one bud and bloom on it last year in 2017, but I missed seeing it and photographing it until the flower was mostly gone. So I can't wait to see what it actually looks like this year. Considering this P. rockii tree peony is still growing in my peony seedling bed very close to its siblings and is still growing so well and so quickly, speaks very highly of its vigor. Hopefully I will get a chance to move it to a better home this fall, so that I can allow it to mature with more space for its roots to grow in. I will keep you posted on its flowers. Spring will be here before we know it!

Friday, March 2, 2018

2018 Early Peonies Pop, Is Spring Weather Here to Stay?

With the recent warm temperatures, bits of rain, and now sunshine today, the herbaceous peonies have started to pop this past week as well. Even though the temps have cooled back down a bit (we are now having highs in the 50s and 60s), the longer days and spring like weather are convincing the peonies that spring is here, although it's not quite yet time for the Vernal Equinox. Even though these temperatures are more "normal" for this time of year, I'm already missing those 70 degree days!

Herbaceous Peony 'Nova' Pops

Unlike the past few years, 2016 Very Early Peony 'Nova' Buds Emerge First, Peony 'Nova' has made it to March without any buds busted by freezing cold overnight temperatures. Let's hope it stays that way. Even though there weren't any freezing overnight temperatures in the 10 day weather forecast 5 days ago, it has now been updated, and I do now see a couple of nights with a forecast for 30 and 32 degree overnight temperatures. Let's hope they change the forecast again, and we don't get those freezing cold temperatures.