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

Monday, August 25, 2014

2014 Carolina Gardening Peony Tip of the Month

I noticed a peony tip in my Carolina Country magazine this month. This is a free magazine sent out by my electric cooperative. It covers a Southern region and usually has gardening tips or a gardening section in it each month. This month the peony tip caught my eye, and I thought I'd share it with all of you.

Carolina Country Tip of the Month

"Late summer is prime peony planting time. Since peonies need a proper duration of chilly weather to bloom satisfactorily in the spring, look for older varieties such as 'Teresa', 'Sarah Bernhardt', 'Felix Crousse', or 'Festiva Maxima' that require less cold for bud set, or ask your local nursery for newer peony selections specifically bred for mild Southern winters. In addition, bury the crowns only about 1½ inches below ground so they will be less insulated from the cold weather. Finally, for stronger, sooner flowering peonies buy divisions that have at least three to four "eyes"."

I've never heard of the peony variety 'Teresa', and actually there is not one registered under this name. However I do grow all the rest of the varieties - 'Felix Crousse', 'Festiva Maxima' and 'Sarah Bernhardt', and they do grow and bloom well here in the South. There is one part of the tip I do disagree with however, and that is the planting depth. The author of this peony tip suggests planting your peony "eyes" 1½ inches below ground. However I would not plant them that deep. I usually plant my peonies even with the ground and put a tiny bit of mulch on top (½ inch or less). Even ½ inch would probably be okay, but 1½ inches would be too deep especially if you live even farther South than I do (zone 7). The depth of the peony directly affect how many chilling hours it receives, and as the author notes the more shallow they are planted the "less insulated" they are from the cold weather. Peonies need this cold weather to bloom and grow properly. It is definitely possible to plant your peony to deep and prevent it from blooming. So if you have your peony planted too deep or buried under too much mulch, dig it up and plant it much shallower or remove most of your mulch. This is a common problem in the South, and one I made myself (planted too deep) as a little girl growing my first peonies. I also visited my neighbors peony at their request this year to determine why it was not blooming. They had it buried under 4 inches of pine straw. The leaves still grew beautifully, but there were no blooms. I suggested they remove most or all of the pine straw so that it would get enough chilling hours this winter to hopefully bloom next spring!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2014 Collected Peony Seeds

Wow! I can hardly believe that a month has already gone by since Peony Seed Collection Time began. I think I have harvested about all the seeds I have this year. The especially wet weather was hard on some varieties seed production. However I was able to collect lots of seed from several different varieties. I will be planting some of my seeds, and I plan to donate the rest of them to the American Peony Society Seed Distribution Program. This year I was able to collect seeds from the following varieties: Color Magnet 24 seeds, Early White 25 seeds, Gay Paree 9 seeds, Golden Frolic 27 seeds, Miss America 90 seeds, Moonstone 5 seeds, Pink Luau 59 seeds, Pink Princess 47 seeds, Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow 77 seeds, Salmon Dream 5 seeds, Seedling - Color Lavender 12 seeds, and Soft Lemon Kisses 3 seeds. This year I am going to be sure to use my copper and steel plant labels when I plant the seeds since the seedling labels I used last year had a big Peony Seedling Plastic Label Failure this spring. The plastic plant labels held up just fine, but they did not stay in the ground through the winter. So their purpose of identifying the seeds was not accomplished. The metal plant labels stay in the ground much better since they are much longer and can go deeper into the soil.

Peony Seeds Collected, Bagged, and Labeled by Variety

Saturday, August 16, 2014

2014 American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner - 'Leda'

The American Peony Society has selected Tree Peony 'Leda' as their 2014 Gold Medal Winner and 2015 Peony of the Year. Tree Peony 'Leda' was hybridized by Nassos Daphnis and registered in 1977. I personally do not grow very many tree peonies. So I'm not familiar with this peony at all. However I did get an email yesterday saying that Klehm's Song Sparrow has all of their container plants including tree peonies and itoh peonies on sale for 15% off until the end of August. So this might be just the opportunity to purchase tree peony 'Leda' if you are interested. I have ordered from Song Sparrow nursery several times in the past, and the quality of their products is excellent. So if you do decide to order Tree Peony 'Leda' from them, I know you'll be happy with your order. :-)

Tree Peony 'Leda'

Monday, August 11, 2014

2014 Silk Tree Peony Paintings from China

Tree Peony Paintings on Silk by Zhong Shi

Well, it's not quite been a year since we went to China and saw Peonies in Beijing, Shanghai, and Suzhou China. I purchased these beautiful tree peony paintings there, and I finally got them framed and put on the wall yesterday. These Chinese tree peony paintings are painted on silk. The artist Zhong Shi, was born in Suzhou, Jiangsu in 1945. This painter is a member of Jiangsu Branch of Artist Association of China and a member of Suzhou Artist Association. This artist also belongs to the Professional Painter of Creation Room of the Weun Painting Institute. We purchased these Chinese silk paintings at the Master of the Nets Garden in Suzhou, China. This garden has a very lovely gift shop with a huge selection of Chinese art, antique replicas, and souvenirs. They also have a beautiful entrance with a pictorial map of the entire garden. The peony garden is shown in full bloom on this pictorial map, which could be considered a work of art itself.

Entrance to the Master of the Nets Gardens in Suzhou, China

Pictoral Map of the Suzhou Gardens Depicting the Peony Garden

Sunday, August 10, 2014

2014 Peony Mandala Art Images

While looking at peony photos on Google, I came across these stunning works of art using flower photos to create mandalas. Several of these works of art were created using peony photos. These peony mandalas were just so mesmerizing, I just had to share it with all of you. I obtained permission from the artist, David J. Bookbinder, to use one of his peony mandalas here. David began making the mandalas ten years ago from photographs he began to take after a near death experience. He says he now uses the mandalas as "a means for healing and personal growth." If you want to see the rest of the collection, you'll have to check out his web site, the Flower Mandalas Project. I hope you enjoy his art as much as I did! Also David has a book coming out this fall called Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas detailing his journey and his art. You can email David at licensing @ to find out more. :)

Pink Peony I
© 2005, David J. Bookbinder

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

2014 Giant Peony Blooms on Peony 'Myra MacRae'

Isabella Holding Peony 'Myra MacRae'

No, this is not an optical illusion. Yes, this peony bloom really is bigger than her head! This is a photo I took on my phone last May, and forgot to publish. These photos are of my lovely daughter Isabella and Peony 'Myra MacRae'. Peony 'Myra MacRae' is really a stellar performer as long as you provide her ample support for her large blossoms. :-) In fact Peony 'Myra MacRae' was a Southern Peony Best Performer this year. Late in my bloom season Peony 'Myra MacRae' was one of the last peonies blooming in my garden and she put on quite a show. So she was named Peony 'Myra MacRae' Best Performer - Week 6. So if you'd like a peony that could be a true Southern Belle, give Peony 'Myra MacRae' a place in your garden.