Peony News

Peony bloom season has come and gone here in Oregon. We had an early spring, with the first buds blooming on March 27th and the last few buds opening this week, giving us over 10 weeks of bloom this year. 

What to do next? I'll be deadheading peonies for awhile - one stem at a time. I move up and down each row with a bucket, clipping the stems just below the old flower blossom. I leave a few here and there, so they can set seed. Over the years, I've made a list of the the seed setters, so I am not saving stems on varieties that don't produce seed. Our peonies produce an abundance of seed, if we let them; and when we take the time to sow it in the fall, it readily sprouts for us the following spring and/or the second spring. It is exciting to see a seedling produce it's first flower, as like children, no two are exactly the same. We always anticipate the next, best peony plant - with exceptional fragrance and strong stems, no doubt. Sometimes they are really attractive and promising; other times they just don't do it for you. The flower can exhibit additional characteristics the second and third year; so, don't discard a one year old seedling that you don't care for. It may bloom into something special as it matures. If you allow your peonies to set seed, look for the pods to open in August, when you can place the seed in the ground. Water to keep moist until the fall rains come and in the spring check for tiny seedlings. 

Our peony farm is now closed for the season, except by appointment for purchasing potted peony plants (contact us at 503-393-7999 or brooksgardens@gmail.com). Bare root peonies for fall planting may be ordered online or via telephone. Peony roots will be shipped in September and October. Some selections are limited, so order early for your choice peonies. 

Thank you to all of our farm visitors this season. As always, you are a joy to meet and we appreciate your business.

Wishing you a wonderful summer,

Therese

Peony bloom season has come and gone this year. I always wish it would go on and on. We had unusually warm weather this spring, and some of the peonies bloomed earlier than usual or out of their normal sequence. Many of the mid-season and late season peonies popped out nearly simultaneously, as we experienced just the right amount of warmth in mid to late May.

We had peonies blooming over a 10 week period with the earliest varieties blooming by April 11th and the latest varieties holding onto a few blossoms this past week.   Scouting the peony field for the latest blooming peonies found Avalanche, Bouquet Perfect, Cheddar Surprise, Lavon, Lucky, Mt. Saint Helens and Princess Margaret still displaying blooms during week 10 of our 2014 season. Gay Paree and the Itoh peony Yellow Heaven, both mid-season bloomers with prolific side buds kept on blooming and blooming through the very end of the season.

After the bloom, we deadhead the peony plants, cutting off the flower heads. We leave a few to produce seed, which we will collect in late summer.  If you do want to produce seed, leave the flower head on the plant and wait until late August to see if it produced viable seed. The plant uses a lot of energy (food reserves) to produce the seed; so, if you deadhead the peony stems after the bloom is done, the energy can be used for future stem and root growth.

To deadhead a peony: clip (cut) the stem just below the dead flower head to remove it. Tidy up your plant by cutting the top couple of inches off the stems to even out your plant. Leave the bulk of the stems/foliage through the summer. They will be cut down to ground level in the Fall, when the plants go dormant for the winter.

Some gardeners like to give their peonies a bit of fertilizer after the bloom season. Be sure to water newly transplanted and young peony plants through the first couple of summers. Once they are established and several years old, peony plants are rather drought tolerant.

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