June 12, 2013
We have enjoyed 9 weeks of blooming peonies this season, from the very early species peonies through the late varieties that are in bloom this week. Albert Niva, Avalanche, Cheddar Surprise, Chestine Gowdy, Elsa Sass, Lemon Queen, Myra MacRae, Myrtle Gentry, Nick Shaylor, Pink Parfait, Rita, Sweet 16, Tom Eckhardt and others are holding on to some gorgeous blossoms, as others petal-away. Gay Paree and Bo Peep, two of our longest blooming peonies are ending the last of their 5 week bloom. Our dwarf, yellow species Paeonia delaveyi var. Lutea is continuing to develop new buds and blooms, after having bloomed earlier in the season.
Some gardeners are asking about growing peonies long-term in containers. This can be done, but as a peony root will grow quite large in three years, a very large pot is essential. The peony root can easily mature at 18” wide and 18” long (or larger); so, it’s best to grow peonies in pots that will provide ample space for their roots. If the pot/container is too small, the plant will eventually lose its vigor and thus, it’s abundant bloom. You can then divide the peony and re-plant a division, which will mature again, in three years. Planting in the ground is ideal, because once established, you do not generally need to divide them.
Patio gardeners can be successful growing peonies in large, well drained containers, placed in a sunny location. The peony root will sit near the top of the container, with just an inch or two of soil covering it. The planted container may be quite heavy, so you might want to place it on rolling castors, to be able to move it (to catch those sun rays). If your winters are quite severe, protect it by placing it in a shed or covered area during arctic blasts (frost and light freezing shouldn’t harm a potted peony root). Keep it slightly moist through the winter, to keep it from drying out. When it starts to grow in the spring, place it in a sunny spot. You can lightly fertilize with a slow release fertilizer in early spring – take care to follow the label directions on the fertilizer package. Be sure it is a fertilizer to use with potted/container plants (slow release), or your plant will likely suffer fertilizer burn and the leaves and stems will be damaged for the season. We have heard from a number of gardeners who are successful with growing peonies in containers – perhaps you’d like to give it a try.