Collecting Seed to Grow New Varieties of Peony Plants

September 23, 2014

Today is the first day of autumn. I have always loved this time of year.  As a child, I discovered I loved the crisp coolness of the air as I walked along our farm or to our neighbors’ farm.  The oak leaves were changing colors and falling to the ground. I liked the scent of the air, fresh apples and grapes.  Today it is drizzling rain – such a nice start to fall, after a long dry spell here in Oregon.  

Fourteen years ago, when we bought this farm, we added peonies to our falls – digging peonies, dividing peonies and planting peonies. I get so busy that I rarely take the time to collect peony seed that has matured on the plants over the summer.

Last June, I left a few spent flower heads on varieties of peonies that have produced seed for us in the past.  I also left some on varieties that I wasn’t sure if they were seed producers. This seed season, I have been good about collecting the seed, putting it in envelopes and labeling it.  Some varieties produced so much seed, that I needed baggies to fill, rather than envelopes.

I knew that Gay Paree, Lemon Chiffon, Lemon Queen, Mischief, Senorita, Sugar ‘n Spice, Topeka Garnet and White Cap were great seed producers. I didn’t expect to see pods filled with seed on Blitz Tort, Bride’s Dream and Cheddar Surprise peony plants. I was excited to find nice, big seed on Bartzella, Old Faithful and Scarlet Heaven. I know that not all of the seed will be viable; but, it is always a thrill to be hopeful that they will sprout.

There are all kinds of methods to sprouting peony seed; but, our best results come from direct seeding in the ground. The anticipation of growing new varieties of peony plants sparks my fantasies of finding one that has all the right characteristics. Just thinking about it can make a mundane task, pleasant.

Now, I hope to actually send some of this seed to the American Peony Society seed collection program. I have a few more areas to scout, and when I take a break from packaging peony roots, I hope to gather more seed.

Here’s to fall – and new peony plants!  


Back to blog