Peony News

It’s always a pleasure to hear how your peonies are doing and to see the thrill in your faces when you tell us they bloomed the first year. While we can’t know for certain if a first year peony will bloom, many do. We appreciate the reviews and testimonials on our peonies (yes, on rare occasions I have sent out a dud - and we do stand behind our product with a first year guarantee). 

I received a couple of phone calls this week from customers who planted peony roots from Brooks Gardens last fall. One lady expressed complete surprise that her plants were blooming just months after planting them bare root. I told her that most peonies will have a small flower or two the first spring; but, sometimes they need an extra year of root development to produce flowers.

Another woman came out to the farm to tell us her peony root was planted in a large flower pot last fall and produced 5 flowers. I forgot to ask her what she did, as that was amazing, even for a peony grower like me.

Then a nervous customer phoned. He planted over 80 peony roots from our farm last fall. He had planted them with just one to two inches of soil over the eyes (buds on peony roots), careful not to plant too deep. They grew beautifully and even though he was elated that virtually every one bloomed this spring, he was in a panic. Seems in his exuberance of seeing so many beautiful peonies, he cut many of them for friends to enjoy. Then a friend told him he shouldn’t cut a first year peony stem, she cautioned him that he might be damaging his maturing plants. He was filled with anxiety.

I explained that wisdom states we should pinch off a first year peony flower bud, early in its development – to encourage more root growth. This is extremely hard to consider for most peony gardeners – even more difficult to do. Who doesn’t want to see their baby peony bloom? You certainly may get extra root development by disbudding baby peonies their first spring; but, don't fret if you didn’t.

I suggested he leave a whorl or two of leaves on each stem, not cutting them to the ground, which will help with plant nourishment in the summer.  He was relieved that he had done that.

I told him not to worry, that I have done it all – and at three and four years, I see no noticeable difference in most peony plants, whether started from bare root or from a nursery container. First and second year peonies are generally small plants, growing a massive root for all the flowers they’ll produce after 3 years.  If we do something that hinders root development, it may simply take another spring to get the plant to maturity. 

Go ahead and enjoy your peony flowers – they should reward you each spring for decades.



The peony gardeners are keeping us busy as we go into the home stretch of the season. Our peony farm will be open through next Sunday, June 17, 2012 (extended one week). There is still plenty of bloom in the peony field to take a look at; and, we have over 100 varieties of peony flowers on display in the showroom (well, it’s a tent).  We keep stems of the earlier blooming varieties in the cooler, so you can see some of them, as well as what is blooming now. 

It’s fun chatting with customers and seeing them so excited as they walk the field and select their peonies. Susan is planning on taking out all of her roses, now that she sees ‘that peonies are twice as lovely’.  A couple of our regular customers who’ve purchased peonies and bearded iris from us over the years, commented on their observation that during the past few years – they’ve noted that Historic (older) bearded iris bloom longer than the newer iris.  I hadn’t heard that before; but, it sounds great to me as we have over 1,000 varieties of Historic bearded iris.

I often overhear customers tell other customers how peonies are easy to grow, low maintenance plants – music to my ears. Today a lady was talking about her peonies that she started from her grandmothers’ plants 48 years ago. She’s never divided them, and they bloom wonderfully every year. I couldn’t give a better testimonial to the ease of peony gardening. If your family has peonies, you may want to ask for a root cutting from them in the fall and plant a memory – it’ll last a lifetime; and, you’ll think of them each spring when it blooms. If you’re not that fond of your relatives; or, they don’t have peonies – come and buy a peony from me; it’ll be your new sweet memory.

Last weekend we had a real thrill, when a woman shyly asked my sister, Annie, if we were Sprauers….she’d heard from her neighbor that there was an Oregon peony farm owned by a Sprauer and she just couldn’t believe it.  So, she, her husband & their daughter checked it out and found, that yes, her husband has a whole branch of relatives that he’s never met! Our grandfather, Karl and his grandfather, Joseph had immigrated to the U.S. from Germany in 1910. I tell you, he has that Sprauer smile! We look forward to meeting more of their family in the future. You never know what you’ll find in the peony field – baby birds one day and relatives you didn’t know, the next day!

Today we enjoyed great weather and the farm was filled with happy people, laughing and smiling.  Our youngest visitor was 5 months old and another customer brought her 103 year old grandmother to see the peonies! Now, that’s making memories. 



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