Winter Growth of Peonies in Oregon

The peonies are off to a fast start this year. The first day of spring is just 10 days away; and we have been enjoying ‘better than spring’ type weather here in the Willamette Valley for much of the past 6 weeks.  While we still wake up to frosty mornings, it’s been warmer than usual in February and March. The most defining difference from past years is the lack of rain.

February 1st was the last day we've felt a day cooler than 50 degrees; and, at least 14 days of the past two months have hit 60 degrees or higher. A smidge of rain is in the near forecast; I hope it is sufficient to more than dampen the ground. Then we may have temperatures in the low 70’s, just in time for spring break week. Watering in fertilizer is such a rare thought in our typical springs. 

I am enjoying these dry days as I am able to work outside without a rain coat and I haven’t had to dry my glasses off for two months.  I just think like a farmer or gardener on the long-term impact of rain – or lack of it.  It’s March, and I am watering potted peonies – unheard of in these parts. 

Our ‘Coral Supreme’ peony plants in the field are over a foot tall and looking spectacular.  While the earlier season varieties are off and running, the later peony varieties are barely showing their 'eyes'. Weather always plays a role in the spring growth of peonies, with the early varieties sprouting first and the late varieties sprouting later.  

If this weather pattern keeps up, we will have cut peonies in April – the ‘Athena’ peonies practically came out of the ground with buds. They are now fully budded. I will be watching to see how early they bloom. 

Watch our website for a likely early opening date this bloom season – it sure will be interesting to see how our spring goes here in Oregon.

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