Peony News

Perhaps garden space is at a premium or you’d like to try growing a peony in a patio container. Because peonies grow very large roots, it is best to plant peonies in the ground for the long term; but, you can raise any peony in a large container – for a time.

While the average peony height ranges from 32”-36” tall, there are a number of shorter varieties 18”-28” tall that can be perfect patio peonies.

Some shorter peonies to consider: Allan Rogers, Border Charm, Joker, Lois’ Choice, Mandarin’s Coat, P. Lutea ‘delavayi’ and Shirley Temple.

 Border Charm peony Joker peony

Lois' Choice peony Mandarin's Coat peony P. lutea 'delavayi' yellow tree peonyShirley Temple peony

Select a large container, preferably ceramic, stone or wood. Plastic heats up and may not be the best choice depending upon summer temperatures. I have some compact peonies planted in 15 gallon containers that are about 7 years old and are still blooming profusely each spring. At some point the roots will want more space, they will lose their vigor; and, then I will divide them into two or three pieces and start over with fresh soil.

Three things to keep in mind if you raise peonies in pots: use big containers, as the roots are quite hefty; water more frequently than you would a peony planted in the ground; and protect them from prolonged severe freezing (below 15 degrees or so). Peony roots planted in the ground will endure severe freezing; but, you might want to protect potted peonies in arctic type winters. They should have a bit of moisture in the container soil. In the spring, summer and fall, container plants, including peonies, will need watering more frequently than those planted in the ground. 

When it’s time to re-pot them, you’ll likely end up with several nice divisions for more containers or to share with friends. The best time of year to divide and plant peonies is in the fall (September - November), before the ground freezes (frost is no problem). 

Potted and bare root peonies are for sale at our farm - open Fridays and Saturdays in September and October 2016 from 10 am – 4 pm.

Order bare root peonies online now for fall planting.

Brooks Gardens, an Oregon peony farm is located at 6219 Topaz Street NE, Brooks, Oregon, 97305. We are just over one mile north of Brooks, OR (between Woodburn and Salem, off of 99E) and 30 minutes south of Tualatin, Wilsonville and Canby, OR. About 40 minutes south of Portland, OR.

Our peonies are off to a great start this spring (or, should I say, winter). The Coral's reached over 2' high days ago and the late varieties are still pushing through the soil. As I wandered the gardens yesterday I was amazed at the size of the buds on 'Sugar 'n Spice', an early peony bloomer with great big salmon-pink flowers. It's incredible to see buds like this in mid-March in Oregon. Our 'Little Red Gem' fern leaf peonies are starting to show a little color peaking out of the buds. 

peony buds on Sugar 'n Spice March 17 Oregon           Fern leaf peony Little Red Gem

A lot can happen with the weather between now and May; sometimes it cools down so much that plants seem to stand still for a couple of weeks. We'll see how this spring plays out and adjust our May 1st 'bloom season' opening date as the weather dictates. 

I love the look of new peony stems, glistening in the morning dew or the afternoon sun. The dark red stems and foliage of 'Topeka Garnet' is such a stark contrast with the green stemmed varieties. Our potted peonies are showing off all of the variations in stem and foliage colors, now. 

After 8 days of good rains, I will be relishing the dry, perhaps sunny days we may be blessed with this weekend. Today is off to a beautiful start. 

I'll be here Friday and Saturday, March 18th and 19th, selling potted peony plants for those of you looking to get a jump on spring transplanting. We gardeners welcome spring, watching plants grow and anticipating the glory of all the flowers to bloom. 

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