Have you ever wondered if you can grow peonies where you live?
Peony flowers are so beautiful and exotic looking that it surprises some to learn that they thrive in areas with cold winters. When I mention that they grow in Alaska, Canada, Russia and Siberia, the ears perk up, as they thought it might be too cold to grow a peony where they have a cold or snowy winter. When they hear that Minnesota has many peony farms and growers – they immediately tune in; because they know (or have heard) how brutal the winters can be there. They smile in knowing, that they, too, can raise peonies. Peonies thrive across the Northwest, Midwest and Northeastern U.S.
What about growing peonies in warmer winter areas? You may be in luck.
A rule of thumb for growing peonies is to have at least 480 winter chill hours (hours below 45°).
There are warmer winter areas across the southern part of the U.S. were peony plants don’t get enough winter chill for root dormancy to produce the spring flowers; or, perhaps it's too humid. But, scattered throughout that same region are many areas that do get enough winter chill to grow peonies. California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and other southern states have many areas with enough winter chill hours to grow peonies.
To help you pinpoint whether or not peonies will grow and thrive in your warmer climate, check with area gardeners, your local garden center or one of the winter chill maps/calculators available online.
I stumbled upon the Midwestern Regional Climate Center’s website filled with information on winter chill. Their Vegetation Impact Program features ‘winter chilling hours’ maps of the U.S. - a wealth of information for growers of all kinds of plants.
For California gardeners, the University of California, Davis publishes Chill Calculators for areas within all counties. The variation throughout the state is eye-opening, with so many pockets of peony growing conditions.
If you live where ‘you can’t grow peonies’ – it’s sometimes amazing to learn that you do have enough cold temperatures to grow peonies. With a bit of research, you might be on your way to growing these ‘exotic’ flowers in your garden.