Peony News

The last day of our open farm this season is today. I always want the season to go on and on; but, the petals are falling and barely a side-bud remains to open.  While there is still a bit of raggedy bloom in the fields to spy a flower form or color, our display tables are filled with nice blossoms for a good look at perhaps 80 varieties. 

We still have a selection of potted peonies and you can also order bare root for fall planting at the farm or online.

As we wind down another bloom season, I reflect on the wonderful help we enjoyed this spring. Friends and family pitched in to mow, weed, sell flowers and plants; and, do whatever needed to be done. We are grateful. With my husband's slow recovery from traumatic injuries he received 20 months ago when he was hit by a dump truck; I can not fully express how much I appreciate your continued support of our farm. You help keep the dreams alive.  Bless you all. 

 

Our 2017 bare root peony catalog is now available online. While we ship peony roots in the Fall (beginning September 1st), you can start browsing now. Ordering early reserves your choice peonies. 

As always, we guarantee our roots. We want you to be successful in growing these beautiful flowers.  Click here for our 2017 peonies

   

How to get your peony plants off to a good start - fall planting tips.

 

  • SUN & SOIL - Plant peonies in a sunny, well drained location. Peonies love full sun; at least a half day of sun will provide abundant blooms. Plant on mini ‘hills’ to provide better drainage, if needed. Often there is no need to amend the soil; peonies grow in clay soils.
  • PREP - Dig a good hole for your root, about 12” deep by 12” wide. Spade up the soil you removed from the hole and put some back into the hole. Leave enough room to set your root in the top of the hole. 
  • ROOT DEPTH - Plant peony roots near ‘ground level’ (not very deep).  You can place the root at an angle or straight up and down, with the buds (eyes) of the root at the top, just below the surface of the ground. The fleshy part of the root (kind of like a carrot) will be pointing down into the hole. Cover the peony root until only one to two inches of soil covers the ‘eyes’ (buds). The ‘eyes’ will be just under ground level. Planting too deeply can stunt growth. When planting a peony from a pot, remove the pot and plant the peony so that the top of the ‘root ball’ is at ground level, with only a tiny amount of soil covering it. 
  • Water - Give your new planting a drink of water. Check to see if the root settled deeper. If it did, lift the root, slip a little soil under it and re-position the peony root so the ‘eyes’ are just below ‘ground level’ with only an inch or two of soil on the top of it. Water occasionally the first spring and summer. Once established, peonies are rather drought tolerant; although they appreciate a little water now and then in hot summers.
  • Care - Many gardeners never fertilize peonies, others fertilize each spring with a little flower fertilizer. In the fall, cut the stems to ground level and remove the old leaves and stems from the garden. The peony plant ‘eyes’ will reappear each spring. Peonies can grow for decades in the same spot without needing divided.

As I dig and divide peonies this fall, I sometimes discover a more ample supply of some varieties and add a few to the Brooks Gardens online peony catalog.

   One such beauty is ‘The Fawn’. It has an amazing flower   form and color. The pink petals are covered in tiny, darker pink dots. I understand the hybridizer B. B. Wright named it so, as a baby deer, a fawn, is covered in spots. When this one blooms, I want it all to myself. 

   I also added a few ‘Campagna’ peony roots. Pure white petals surround a golden center in cup shaped flowers. One of the earliest peonies to bloom each spring, they are one of hybridizer A.P. Saunders great creations.

   'Kelway’s Glorious', known to many as one of the most fragrant varieties is a true heirloom peony. The double, creamy white flowers have occasional crimson red edging. They’ve been a world-wide favorite since being introduced by Kelway in 1909.

   I also added a few 'Sugar ‘n Spice' (Rogers) peonies. The unique salmon-pink color is a real eye-catcher and an early season peony. The huge flowers and broad leaves make quite a garden statement.

I may add a few additional peony varieties as the fall progresses, so check in and browse the offerings now and then.

Bare root peonies are being shipped now and throughout the fall, the perfect time to plant peonies.  

As fall approaches and the weather cools, peony planting season arrives. Bare root peonies are typically planted in the ground from September through November. You can also transplant peonies from containers in the fall.

Peonies don't mind being transplanted, contrary to old tales we've all heard. As perennials, they simply take a couple of years to establish to maturity from root divisions. They can grow for decades in the same garden spot, providing an abundance of flowers each spring. There is no need to divide a healthy, mature peony plant; however, if you wish to do so, fall is the best time to do so. 

While frosty mornings won't affect peony planting, you should plant before the ground is frozen. For many areas, mid-September through October are prime planting months. November is also ideal in warmer areas.  

Here are some easy peony planting tips I've previously shared:

Good Sun  Pick a spot in the garden or yard that gets good sun and decent soil drainage and your peonies can literally last a lifetime. Full sun is great; a little shade is fine. 

Soil - Peonies love clay type soils with good drainage. You can amend the soil if you choose; but, often, there is no need to do so. 

Not too Deep - Spade up a good sized hole, so the roots will have room to spread out and grow. Place the fleshy peony root going down into the hole with the 'eyes' (buds) near ground level. Cover with spaded soil. It's very important that the peony 'eyes' (buds) are close to ground level, with just an inch or two of soil over them. Take care to not plant peonies too deeply.

In warmer climates, such as in parts of California, the peony eyes are placed at the ground surface (with roots going down into the soil) and the eyes are barely covered with soil.  

Water - Give your transplanted peony roots a drink of water and keep slightly moist until the fall rains come. Once established, peonies are rather drought tolerant. 

Peonies do well in USDA zones 2-8 and many gardeners are having success with them in zones 9. They do best with a winter chill and thrive in warm summers.  

Peony plants add texture, foliage and fragrance to your landscape and the flowers can’t be beat for cutting gardens.  Plant peonies this fall to enjoy gorgeous flowers every spring. 

Click here for more information on planting, growing and care of peonies.

Our peony season was different this year – it started out early with blooms in late March and peaked by mid-May. From the very early varieties to the very late varieties of peonies, we enjoyed 10 weeks of peony blossoms!

It’s been a joy to meet so many of you and share tips on planting and growing peonies. We want you to enjoy the rewards of growing your own beautiful peonies, too.

You may contact us to pick up potted peony plants by appointment this summer.

Thanks again for being a part of our 2016 peony season.

Therese

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.

Therese

 

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