Peonies are unusually happy this year.

The fact that peonies do not perform well in such mild climates does not dissuade some of us from growing them. After all, they can sometimes be found in local nurseries and even farmers’ markets as if they belong here. Tubers of more of the countless varieties can be purchased online or from mail order catalogs while dormant in autumn. Unfortunately, without much winter chill, few peonies perform as they should.

Peonies can be white or various shades of pink or red, with considerable variation of flower structure. Tree peonies that bloom yellow are the most likely to be wimpy without winter chill. All peonies are good cut flowers. After spring bloom, the distinctively coarse and rich green foliage stays until autumn dormancy. The more popular herbaceous peonies should not get more than three feet tall and broad. Tree peonies do not actually grow into trees, but develop woody stems that can hold flowers nearly six feet high. Larger flowers may need support.

Because plants get established so slowly, they should not be moved or disturbed. Small new plants can be divided from larger plants while dormant, but take a few years to actually bloom. Peonies like rich soil and regular watering, where they do not get crowded or shaded by other plants.

4 thoughts on “Peony

    1. Oh? I really know very little about them. I just know that they do not bloom well if they do not get enough chill. I am not aware if extra chill enhances bloom. I suppose it could. It does for many other flowers and fruits that appreciate a good chill.

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  1. I always thought Peonies loved sun but I have three peonies in a shady spot and they go on blooming year after year. I also have a single white peony called ‘Snow Swan’ in a hot, sunny spot and it gets bigger and better each year.

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    1. A bit of shade might elongate their stems. I would not expect them to actually enjoy the shade though. Those that I remember in my former neighborhood were quite exposed, and did not see to mind the sunny and dry warmth (in a chaparral climate). They probably appreciated the little bit of extra chill that they got through winter in that exposure though. In your region, chill is not a concern.

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