Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Southern Peony Photos

One goal I had this year was to update the photo on the main page with a new peony each month. I kind of almost made that goal. I had to put December's photo in a bit late, but otherwise I made the goal to get out at least 12 new photos this year. I want to keep this goal every year until my Inventory page is mostly complete. Right now there are more peony varieties without photos than there are peony varieties with photos. I'd like to reverse that. :-) This goal has two purposes. I'd like to keep the main page fresh with a new picture on it every month, and the other and most important reason is I'd like to increase the number of peony bloom photos available on my site. Hopefully this will help people in identifying their own peonies (or determining mislabeled peonies) and perhaps also encourage people to find new varieties of peonies they'd like to grow!

December 2014 - Peony 'Yellow Crown'

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

2014 Intersectional Peonies with 3 Flowers Per Stem

I actually finished cutting back all of my peonies before December this year. That's quite a feat considering some years I am pruning dead foliage well into January! While cutting back my intersectional peonies yesterday, I noticed that two intersectional peony varieties had three flowers per stem. I grow several varieties of intersectional peonies, and so far these are the only two that have had three peony blooms on one stem. This is definitely something that would make one intersectional peony variety better than another. Not only does having three flowers per stem give you more blooms per bush, but it also likely increases the blooms season for the plant. Now that I am thinking about it, the blooms on both Peony 'Garden Treasure' and 'Julia Rose' seemed to last longer than the rest of my intersectional peonies this year. I will have to keep an eye on this trait to see if any of my other intersectional peonies develop this habit as the plants mature! Also Peony 'Garden Treasure' is an American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner from 1996. So if you are looking to add an intersectional peony to your garden, and you're not sure which one to choose, Peony 'Garden Treasure' and Peony 'Julia Rose' may be good selections to consider!
3 Flowers on 1 Stem on
Intersectional Peony
'Garden Treasure'
3 Flowers on 1 Stem on
Intersectional Peony
'Julia Rose'

Saturday, November 15, 2014

2014 Peony Thank You Card

This month I received a card in the mail. It was a thank you card for a peony root I'd given someone. My friend Michele has told me several times about how her neighbor, Glory, was always drooling over another of their neighbor's peonies and how she'd love to have one. I'd wanted to give my friend Michele a peony for a while too. So this fall I took two peony roots over to her house. I let Michele pick which one she'd like from the two peonies I'd brought and told her she could give the other one to her neighbor, Glory. I brought Michele a piece of my favorite white single peony (which had well over a hundred blooms on it at once this year) and a nice big fat double white peony. Michele opted to keep the white single peony. So I helped her plant it near her mailbox (since that is the sunniest part of her yard). She later gave the double white peony to her neighbor. A week or so later, I received this lovely thank you card in the mail. What a nice surprise! It really brings joy to my heart to share my love of peonies with others. I hope the peonies will bloom for many years to come and that they both enjoy the peony plants as much as I have!

Thank You Card for a Peony

Friday, November 14, 2014

2014 How to Divide an Herbaceous Peony

Since it's that time of year, and I needed to divide a few peonies of my own I wanted to create this illustrated how to divide an herbaceous peony guide. Let talk about reasons why to divide a peony and what would qualify as a peony that needs division or would be okay to divide. The reasons to divide a peony are to create more of the same peony to plant in your garden, to give a peony to someone you know, or maybe even to sell a piece of your peony. As far as what peony would qualify as a peony to divide, I've heard a rule of thumb is a peony with at least seven stems. However as you can see, the peony in this guide has many more than seven stems. This particular peony has more than 25 stems!

Cut Back the Peony Stems

First you should cut back all of the stems on your peony. When cutting back peony stems for the winter, I usually cut them back to the ground. However when dividing a peony it will probably help you see where and how to divide the peony if you keep the stems a little longer (about 2-3 inches). A longer stem left on the peony division will also help its new owner figure out the correct way to plant it!

Dig the Peony Out of the Soil

Next, after your peony has been cut back, carefully dig in a circle around the peony. I usually try to dig a circle that is about 1 foot away from the peony stems to try to preserve as many of the roots as possible. After you have dug a circle around the peony, next try digging a little underneath the peony all the way around it, until you are able to lift it above the soil.

Wash Off Your Peony Roots

After you have removed your peony from the soil, you should take it to a place where you can give it a thorough rinse. As you can see I had a little helper to help me with this part! A garden hose with a stream nozzle that has a little bit of power behind it will help get the soil out of all of the nooks and crannies in your peony root.

Let the Peony Rest for at Least One Day

As you can tell from the picture, my peony root is now dry. That's because it's been sitting in the same spot for a couple days. It took me a little while to get back to it. Your peony root should be given time to sit and rest before you divide it. Otherwise you will accidentally snap of lots of your peony's storage roots. When you first dig a peony from the soil, the roots are very firm and easy to break. After the peony sits for a day, the roots will be softer and a little more limber. You should still be careful with the roots because they can still break, but they will be much easier to work with than if you had tried to divide your peony right after digging it.

Find a Nice Spot to Divide Your Peony

After your peony has had a chance to rest and soften up, find a nice spot to divide the peony. Look for a spot that your garden knife will go into nicely and it seems it would be easy to cut. You don't have to divide off one piece at a time. In fact I just divide mine in half and then half again and so on until I get the size divisions I want.

Separate the Peony into Two Pieces

Next after you have separated your peony into two separate pieces, look at each piece to see how many stems and or eyes are on each division. If the roots are large enough you may be able to divide them again, just as I could with this peony. The rule of thumb is that peonies should have at least 3 to 4 eyes on them to grow nicely. If you want a larger plant that will bloom even sooner, you may want to leave 6 to 8 eyes on your divisions.

Examine the Divisions to See if They Can Be Divided Further

If one of your peony roots is large enough that you can divide it into smaller pieces, find a spot on the peony root that the garden knife will fit nicely and allow you to separate it into two pieces with at least 3 to 4 eyes on each piece. Try to make the smallest cut possible so that you don't snap off any storage roots.

Cut the Divisions into Smaller Pieces (If Needed)

After you've divided your division, separate it into separate pieces. Remember not to make the divisions too small. If you have less than 3 to 4 eyes, it could take extra YEARS to get your peony to a good blooming size. So when it comes to dividing peonies, bigger divisions are much better than more divisions.

Separate the Divided Division

Then examine the other half of your original peony to see if it can be divided further as well. If so, repeat the steps above to divide that half into smaller divisions as well.

Divide the Other Half of Your Peony (If Needed)

Find a Spot Where the Garden Knife Fits Easily

Separate the Divisions

Cut the Divisions into Smaller Pieces (If Needed)

Results of the Peony Divisions - 5 Pieces

Monday, November 10, 2014

2014 Peony Sale with Free Shipping at Brooks Gardens

I just couldn't resist putting in one last peony order for the year. Especially when the peonies are on sale with free shipping! I checked out all of my favorite peony vendors to see who was having a good sale and if they had what I was looking for. After moving a few things around this year and giving away a few peonies, I had a couple open spots in my peony gardens that I needed to fill. I was looking for a really good double red peony to fill a spot near my deck where I grow mostly red colored flowers, an A. P. Saunders hybridized peony to fill a spot in my Saunders peony garden, and a multi-layer / multi-color very full bomb type peony to fill a spot in my drain field garden where I grow lots of other multi-color bomb peonies.

Brooks Gardens Peonies Sale
15% Off & Free Shipping

When I came across the Brooks Gardens web site, it said they were having a sale with 15% off all peonies and free shipping. I love free shipping! I found a nice double red peony, Peony 'Henry Bockstoce' and a Saunders peony named Peony 'Skylark'. However I didn't see any multi layer bomb peonies that caught my eye, but I did find Peony 'Prairie Moon', which I have, but I feel sure it is mislabeled. So I'd like to get the correct plant. After filling my cart with 2 out of 3 must haves and another nice to have, I checked out! I got all three of the peonies 15% off and free shipping as well! So if you're looking for a new peony or a few peonies to fill some spots in your garden with beautiful colors, be sure to check out the sale at Brooks Gardens Peonies!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

2014 Transplant Lavender Ruffles Peony Seedling

Peony Seedling Test Bed

This is a current picture of my peony seedling test bed. I wanted to transplant my Favorite Peony Seedling - Semi-Double Pink Violet (which I have nicknamed Peony 'Lavender Ruffles') from this peony seedling bed to a place where it will have more room to grow. The Peony 'Lavender Ruffles' is the peony with the light green foliage to the right of the peony with the powdery mildew. Considering its close proximity to the other peonies affected by the powdery mildew and the fact that it has not totally succumbed to the disease, it seems fairly disease resistant.
Peony 'Lavender Ruffles'
Peony 'Lavender Ruffles'
Fall Foliage

The foliage of Peony 'Lavender Ruffles' has an interesting pattern in the fall. It appears to be green edged in gold. The plant is also fertile as well. As you can see from the empty seed pod, it produced seeds in its first year of bloom. After digging up the peony plant, the roots and crown appear to be neat with long storage roots emanating from the crown.
Peony 'Lavender Ruffles'
Seed Pod
Peony 'Lavender Ruffles'
Dug Up

Next I removed the foliage with some pruners before replanting the roots. I moved this peony from my peony seedling bed to my peony seedling test bed. It will have much more room to grow in its new location, and allow me to evaluate it more closely. I also added a garden label beside the roots so that I can find it next spring. When replanting the peony, I accidentally broke off one of its storage roots. I hope it will still bloom again next year. If it does it will have overcome an extra challenge! I can't wait to see how its ruffled lavender blooms look next year!

Peony 'Lavender Ruffles' Pruned and Replanted

Friday, November 7, 2014

2014 Enjoy Fall Peony Foliage Colors

Fall Peony Foliage beneath Magnolia 'Susan'

I am really enjoying the fall colors on my peony foliage this year. The beautiful greens, golds, oranges, and burgundy colors of the changing peony foliage and contrast of the bright green grass and trees leaves particularly delight me. Usually fall is not one of my favorite seasons, but I am learning to appreciate it more and more. Even though the trees are losing their foliage and the peonies are starting to die back, fall is still a time of renewal. It is just another part of the cycle of living things and without it, we would not be able to enjoy the anticipation of seeing those first peony sprouts creeping up from the ground in the spring.

Fall Peony Foliage Contrasts Nicely with Green Fescue

I am also really amazed this year by the bi-tone colors of some of the fall peony leaves. I was particularly impressed with Peony 'Paul M. Wild's orange and golden petals and Peony 'Belleville's green and red petals. Also if you are looking for a great late season bloomer, Peony 'Paul M. Wild' was named a Week 7 Southern Peony Best Performer because of its late season blooms that last late into the peony season unlike any other. So if you're looking to extend your peony bloom season and would like some fall season entertainment as well, Peony 'Paul M. Wild' may be the peony for you!

Peony 'Paul M. Wild' Golden & Orange Fall Foliage

Peony 'Belleville' Green & Red Fall Foliage

Sunday, November 2, 2014

2014 Southern Peony NC State Fair Ribbons

I was so excited to see the ribbon I won at the NC State Fair this year! In the first flower show I won 4 1st place blue ribbons, 1 2nd place red ribbon, and 2 3rd place white ribbons! I didn't enter the second flower show, and in the third flower show I won 1 1st place blue ribbon, 2 2nd place red ribbons, 4 3rd place white ribbons, a green honorable mention ribbon, and one giant orange Award of Merit ribbon! This is the first year that I entered more than one flower show. Usually I just enter the first show, and that's it. This year I decided to enter more than one, and I am really happy with the results! Winning all of these ribbons in the NC State Fair this year really makes me want to win my first peony ribbon. So I am going to try to enter at least a few flowers into the American Peony Society peony exhibition this year. I'll let you know how it goes... :-)

Southern Peony NC State Fair Ribbons

Sunday, October 12, 2014

2014 Itoh Intersectional Peonies on Ebay

Intersectional Itoh Peony Roots from Ebay

I did order a few Itoh peonies from Ebay this year. They arrived this past week, and I must say they were mostly decent size roots. Three out of four of the roots I received were fairly large divisions, unlike some divisions I received from Ebay a couple years ago, in my 2012 Ebay Peony Order - American Greenhouses. However these were from a different vendor, which can make all the difference. Also I ordered these peonies in the fall, and the previous ones I ordered were purchased in the summer and were already sprouting. This was probably because these roots had been dug the previous fall and had been sitting around for almost a year. Unfortunately two out of four of the roots from that 2012 order died, and the other two that did live, suffered and are still small.

Intersectional Itoh Peonies on Ebay

Fall is definitely a much better time to order and plant peonies. Since peony roots are typically dug in the fall, this is when you'll get the freshest roots that can be planted quickly, to give the plant the most time to settle in (and hopefully sprout more roots) before spring. The roots I got this time are Peony 'Berry Garcia', Peony 'Canary Brilliants', Peony 'Love Affair', and Peony 'Yellow Heaven'. I can't wait to see how they do in the spring!

Friday, October 10, 2014

2014 Peony Experiments - Herbaceous Divisions

After dividing a few of my peonies to give away Free Peonies at Gardenweb Carolina Plant Swap, I had a few casualties - pieces of herbaceous peony crown with buds attached but not much root. With little to no root on these pieces, I didn't want to give them away at the plant swap, possibly disappointing people with very little peony experience. These pieces are mostly just a piece of the crown with some growth buds. It is possible these may not grow at all, and if they do grow, it will likely take them a while to catch up to a standard division that contains the peony's storage roots. So I decided to plant them in one of my test beds to see if they would grow. I will be adding this experiment to the Experiments page, and will add updates about these peony pieces in the spring.

Herbaceous Peony 'Scarlet O'Hara' Divisions with Very Little Root

Unknown White Double Herbaceous Peony Division with Very Little Root

Unknown White & Yellow Anemone Herbaceous Peony Division
with Very Little Root

As you can see I tried to plant these peony pieces a bit deeper than I normally Plant an Herbaceous Peony. I wanted to give these little pieces a chance to grow and stay as moist as possible since I probably won't be watering them much. I'm curious to see what they can do on their own. If any of the peony divisions are successful in the spring, these will probably be contributions to share at future plant swaps!

Plant Herbaceous Peony 'Scarlet O'Hara' Divisions
with Very Little Root

Planted Unknown White Double Herbaceous Peony Division
with Very Little Root

Planted Unknown White & Yellow Anemone Herbaceous Peony Division
with Very Little Root

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

2014 American Peony Society Fall Auction

The preview for the American Peony Society 2014 Fall Auction is now available on their web site. The bidding is for two days only and starts this Saturday, October 11th at 12 noon. There are several hard to find and collector varieties this year, including several intersectional Itoh peonies like Peony 'First Arrival', Peony 'Garden Treasure', and Peony 'Pastel Splendor' and tree peonies like Tree Peony 'Baron Thyssen Boremisza' and Tree Peony 'Right Royal'. There's even a red double fernleaf peony, P. Tenuifolia Rubra Flore Plena. If you're not yet an APS member, now is a great time to join. The APS Fall Auction is for APS Members only, and this is one of the exclusive member benefits! Good luck and happy bidding!

American Peony Society Fall Auction

Monday, October 6, 2014

2014 Free Peonies at Gardenweb Carolina Plant Swap

Here it is fall already. The semi annual Gardenweb plant swap took place this past weekend, and I decided to bring 8 peony roots to trade at the plant swap. You should have seen the people arguing over those peonies! I guess I didn't bring enough of them! There were quite a few people there. I'd say at least 50. So not everyone got one of my peonies, and there were several people that weren't too happy about that! I guess that's a good sign. It seems there is quite a bit of interest in peonies here. Hopefully I'll convert a few people from just garden people with a casual interest into peony lovers! It's not too hard to get addicted to them. Once you get your hands on one peony, and it starts to bloom for you, you just can't wait to get another one! :)

Free Peonies for the Gardenweb Plant Swap

Friday, September 19, 2014

2014 Peony obovata willmottiae Red & Blue Seed Pods

Wow! I said it once about this peony when it bloomed, First Bloom on Peony P. obovata var. willmottiae, and I'll say it again! If you want a peony that's going to brighten up your shade garden in spring and in fall, then Peony P. obovata var. willmottiae is definitely the peony for you! The white blooms with a burgundy and gold center really brighten up the shade garden in the spring, but the eye-popping fuchsia, red, and blue seed pods are like watching a brightly colored fireworks display in early fall! So if you were thinking you needed another reason to grow this shade loving beauty, then you've definitely got one!

Peony obovata var. willmottiae Seed Pod

Monday, September 15, 2014

2014 Questions - Brown Peony Leaves in Late Summer

I received this question from Kay in zone 7:
"My hybrid peony (I only have one so far) is looking scorched and burned. Is this typical this time of year??? I guess it could be rust. Not sure. Here is picture and it is a hybrid Keiko (adored) Itoh Peony. It has been in the ground since early spring. Please give me some guidance as to what you think. It is appreciated."

Kay's Peony 'Keiko' (Adored) with Browned Foliage

Actually late summer is just the time of year that the foliage gets a little tired and starts to die back for the winter. Some varieties do die back earlier than others. It looks like the foliage on your Peony 'Keiko' does have a little bit of blight as well as some die back on the foliage. However I wouldn't worry about it too much. It really is a personal gardening preference of how you'd like to deal with it. I try to stay as natural and organic with my peonies as possible. So I don't usually apply any chemical fungicides. As long as your plant is increasing in size and blooms each year, I wouldn't worry about it. Peonies are a special type of plant that only get one set of leaves per year. So as the year progresses, the foliage naturally tends to get more ragged, bitten, browned, and spotted. Some peony varieties are more resistant to disease than others. Also some peony varieties experience foliage die back at earlier times in the year. For example all of the foliage on my coral peonies has died back by this time of the year, while the foliage on most of my other herbaceous peonies is still alive. It is important to leave the foliage on the plant in the fall since the roots store the energy from the leaves to help the plant survive the winter. Also these storage roots generate the energy needed for the plant to grow and bloom next spring. So fall is a great time to fertilize peonies. I would recommend an organic fertilizer around the plants drip line or a thin layer of compost. I do see you have an automatic watering system. If the foliage on the peony stays wet all the time, the leaves will be more susceptible to the blight, as the wet conditions create a favorable environment for the blight to multiply. So deeper, less frequent waterings are recommended. Once the leaves are completely brown, you can remove them and throw them away in the trash. Do not compost them or leave them on the ground over winter to prevent the blight from multiplying. I hope this information helps, and good luck with your peony!

Friday, September 12, 2014

2014 Peony Seeds for APS Seed Distribution Program

Peony Seeds for Donation

I finally got my peony seeds packaged up that I am donating to the American Peony Society Seed Distribution Program. I am donating peony seed from 5 different peony varieties (Peony 'Golden Frolic', Peony 'Miss America', Peony 'Pink Luau', Peony 'Pink Princess', and Peony 'Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow') of my 2014 Collected Peony Seeds. The rest of the varieties I have already planted to see what nature has created. Since I donated 5 varieties of seed, that means I can select 2 packets of peony seeds from other growers for FREE! That's cool! For every two varieties of peony seed you donate, you can select one packet of free seeds. If you'd like more information on how you can get your own free seeds, check out the American Peony Society Seed Distribution Program. All of the donated seeds go to Scott, the newly elected APS President, who runs the APS Seed Distribution Program. I can't wait to see what varieties of seed will be available from this year's harvest!

Peony Seeds Packed for Shipment

Sunday, August 31, 2014

2014 How to Plant Peony Seeds

The first step in planting peony seeds is soaking them. This step is not required depending on how fresh your seeds are and whether you feel like soaking them. I usually soak purchased peony seeds just because I'm not sure exactly how they've been handled, and I really have no way of knowing how old they are. If you do decide to soak them, I would recommend soaking them overnight in individual containers separated by peony variety.

Soak Peony Seeds

Next when you're ready to plant your seeds, gather all the needed materials to do so. You'll need the seeds separated by variety, some sturdy plant markers to mark the seeds, and something to poke (pen or pencil) or dig (trowel or shovel) into the soil with. If I don't have very many of a variety, then I will just plant them by poking small holes in the soil rather than digging.

Materials Needed to Plant Peony Seeds

If you have lots of one variety (like more than 10 or 15), then you will probably want to use a trowel or small shovel to make a shallow hole where you'd like to plant your peony seeds. I usually plant my peony seeds about 1 inch deep to make sure they don't get heaved, scratched, or eroded out of the soil. I also usually plant my peony seeds about 1-2 inches apart. This is too close to grow peonies. However all of your seeds may not germinate, and you can always move them to a different location after 1 or 2 years when they start to get larger.

Dig a Shallow Hole for the Peony Seeds

Plant Peony Seeds in Soil

After you have a flat shallow hole dug for your peony seeds, you can scatter them in the bottom of the hole or arrange them neatly in rows and/or columns according to your preference. Next cover the peony seeds with the soil you removed from your shallow hole.

Cover the Peony Seeds with Soil

Poke the Soil to Make a Planting Hole for a Peony Seed

An alternate method of planting the peony seeds would be to poke a hole in the soil for each seed and plant them individually. This method is good when you only have a few seeds of each variety to plant. I usually use a pen, pencil, or marker to make a small hole in the soil. Then I drop the seed into the hole, and use the writing implement to press the seed into the bottom of the hole. Then cover the seed with the surrounding soil.

Plant Peony Seeds

After your peony seeds have all been planted, make sure to water them and keep them moist! This is a very important step! I usually use a watering can with a rain drop head to lightly sprinkle the water over the seeds. This will prevent the soil from washing away and uncovering your peony seeds. Now just keep them watered and wait for them to sprout! Fresh peony seeds may germinate the next spring if planted promptly after they are ripe. However older seeds may take another year before they germinate. (That's why it is super important to have a sturdy seedling label that won't be heaved out of the soil in the winter.) Be patient and you will be rewarded!

Water Peony Seeds