Articles about Peony stems
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Sunday, March 11, 2018

2018 Top 5 Herbaceous Peonies by Stem Count

Southern Peony Top 5 Herbaceous by Stem Count

Now here we go to round out the rest of our Top 5 by stem count list, this time for herbaceous peonies. If you missed our 2018 Top 5 Intersectional Peonies by Stem Count article yesterday, you should definitely check that one out. So the herbaceous peonies have been growing much longer in my garden than my intersectionals, but the intersectionals have much higher stems counts. So while herbaceous peonies do grow here, intersectionals seem to grow much better! I only started my main intersectional peony garden bed in 2012, 2012 Intersectional Peony Garden Planting, but it has really taken off!

Back to the topic at hand, Top 5 Herbaceous Peonies by Stem Count... Just like I had a few caveats for my Intersectional Top 5 by Stem Count, I also have a few caveats for this list as well, but they are mostly to the credit of the peonies on this list. All of the herbaceous peonies on this list were started bareroot. These were not babied and grown in a pot. These were roots in a bag, in a box, through the mail, etc. And they have all grown into quite fine specimens.

Also two of these peonies have been divided before, and have now grown back in size to be in this Top 5 by Stem Count list. A section of my Peony 'Do Tell' was donated in the 2013 APS Peony Donation to JC Raulston Arboretum. Also a section of my Peony 'Coral Charm' was donated to the same arborteum in 2013 as well. So not only are these two peonies great at growing here in the South, they are also great plants that divide well and grow back to a large size in just a few years. Peony 'Coral Charm' seems to grow up from any pieces you've left in the ground (adventitious roots). So the more you chop this one up and divide it, the more plants pop up around it!

2018 Top 5 Intersectional Peonies by Stem Count

Herbaceous Peony
Stem Count
Year Acquired
Peony 'Coral Charm'
Peony 'Do Tell'
Peony 'Gilbert Barthelot'
Peony 'Coral Fay'
Peony 'Paul M. Wild'

So what does all of this mean for you? Well, some of these are the oldest peonies in my garden, yes. So they've had a long time to grow to obtain this size. However 2 of them have been divided and have still been able to regrow enough to be in the Top 5, Peony 'Coral Charm' and Peony 'Do Tell'. Peony 'Coral Charm' and Peony 'Do Tell' are also Southern Peony Best Performers, 2015 Peony 'Coral Charm' Best Performer - Week 2 and 2012 Peony 'Do Tell' Best Performer - Week 4. If you want reliable herbaceous peonies, that will come back year after year for you in the South, these peonies are definitely it.

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...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

2015 Peony Experiments - Intersectional Stems

With the success of my peony experiment planting intersectional peonies with little to no stem attached (2012 Peony Experiments - Intersectional Divisions / 2013 Peony Experiments - Intersectional Divisions Grow), I decided to try another experiment this year planting intersectional peony stem pieces only. I want to see if intentionally planting only the intersectional peony stems will grow a new intersectional peony. I'm sure this would be a much slower method of propagation, since they would have no roots and would have to develop their entire root system and then grow large enough to bloom.

Yellow Intersectional Peony 'Bartzella' Stems

Even if this does work, I'm not sure it would work for every intersectional peony variety. For this experiment, I am using the same peony variety that I used in my 2012/2013 experiment - Peony 'Bartzella'. After cutting back a peony I planned to divide, I saved any of the stems that contained pink growth buds. Stems without these growth buds probably do not have much chance of growing. So I reserved only those stems that had a visible pink growth bud. Also I made sure that the stems were long enough to include at least two of these growth buds, and even three if there were three growth buds present on one stem.

Small Trench Dug in Peony Test Bed

For this experiment, I have 10 nice looking intersectional peony stems, 7 stems with 2 growth buds and 3 stems with 3 growth buds. First I dug a small trench in my peony test bed. I laid the shorter, 2 growth bud stems diagonally in the trench and covered them with dirt. I planted the three taller, 3 growth bud stems vertically with one section of the stems sticking out of the ground. I intentionally planted these two different ways to see if one way roots better than the other. I did not use any growth hormone or fertilizers on these intersectional peony stems. I plan to let Mother Nature work her magic on these, and we'll see what she comes up with in the spring.
2 Growth Bud Intersectional Peony Stems Planted Horizontally
2 Growth Bud Intersectional Peony Stems Covered With Soil

3 Growth Bud Intersectional Peony Stems Planted Vertically

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'

Sunday, June 17, 2012

2012 Peony Experiments - Sun vs. Shade

I have one Peony 'Bartzella' that is growing in full sun, and another that is growing in partial shade. The difference between them is huge. The one in full sun has loads of blooms and the foliage is fuller and lower to the ground. The one in shade had only a couple of blooms, and the foliage is much thinner, taller, and upright. Both peonies were planted in 2007. So I've been growing both of them for 5 years. The number of stems and blooms on the one in full sun really outnumbers the one in shade. The plant growing in partial shade had 6 stems and 2 blooms this year. The plant growing in full sun had 20 stems and 19 blooms this year. So it is quite obvious that intersectional peonies can grow and bloom in shade, but their vigor and number of blooms is greatly reduced. So if you have a peony that's not doing very well that is in partial shade, find a nice sunny spot in your garden for your peony and move it there! :-)

Peony 'Bartzella' Growing in Sun

Peony 'Bartzella' Growing in Partial Shade

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2011 Peony Experiments - Intersectional Blooms

I think I read somewhere that intersectional peonies would not bloom on old wood, and that the old stems must be cut down every year in order to get blooms. Somehow this did not ring true to me, and I wanted to find out for myself. So for the last 2 years I have left some of the old wood on my intersectional peony 'Bartzella'. The first year I didn't get any blooms on the old wood, but this year I did. Considering that intersectional peonies are merely a cross between herbaceous and tree peonies, and tree peonies bloom on woody stems, it makes sense that intersectional peonies could bloom on their woody stems as well. Perhaps the climate the intersectional peony is growing in will make a difference. I could see how the woody stems of the intersectional peony may not be as cold hardy as the woody stems of the traditional tree peonies. However for my zone 7 southern climate, intersectional peonies can definitely bloom on their woody stems from the previous year.
Peony 'Bartzella'

Peony 'Bartzella'

Thursday, July 29, 2010

2010 Peony Stem Counts

Wow! I just braved the midday 90+ degree heat (head index of 99 degrees) to start on my peony stem counts. This is going to have to be done a bit at a time because it is HOT out there! Counting the peony stems gives me a good idea of which peonies are growing and increasing well from year to year. It may also indicate whether they like their growing conditions. If they are not increasing well, they could have too much sun, too little sun, too little moisture, etc. Also it tells me which peonies I should be dividing this fall. I believe a good rule of thumb is if a peony has 7-8 stems or more, it is a good candidate for division. My intersectional peony 'Bartzella' actually increased from 10 stems last year to 17 stems this year, almost double!
Semi Woody Stems of
Peony 'Bartzella'
Herbaceous Stems of
Peony 'Mrs. FDR'

Monday, December 21, 2009

2009 Fall Peony Cleanup

It's time for winter. Today is the Winter Solstice in fact. So I am a little late cutting back the dead peony foliage this year, but I did get some of it done before winter. I spent some time yesterday removing the dead peony stems and leaves from the herbaceous peonies. The foliage can carry the spores from the botrytis blight and reinfect next years stems. So it is important to remove all stems and leaves from and put this dead foliage in the trash. It is important not to leave these remains or compost them, as the diseases may still propagate. Here are some photos of my 'Karl Rosenfield' peony before and after cleanup. As you can see the hot pink buds for next years stems are visible above ground. Since I live in a southern climate, it is important that the peony be planted at this depth to get the required amount of chilling hours required for flowering.

Peony 'Karl Rosenfield'

Another interesting thing I've noticed the past 2 winters is that one of the intersectional peonies that I have, 'Yellow Crown', sends up new shoots in late summer/early fall that don't seem to die back with the first frost and last for some time into winter. The original shoots from spring have died back, but the later growth still remains.

Peony 'Yellow Crown'

Another intersectional peony that I have, 'Bartzella', has kept above ground stems like a tree peony. I accidentally cut off one of the stems before I realized they had buds on them. I don't know if the stems will survive the winter, but since this peony has never produced any flowers, I am going to leave them in place. It will be an interesting experiment to see if they survive the winter and produce any flowers.

Peony 'Bartzella'