Plants: Peonies

last update June 2020

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Most are quite shade tolerant and are good woodland plants, in addition to doing well in sunny areas too. They flower earlier than the garden peonies, have shorter stems and single-flower shape. The only detractors are that a few are not as easy of cultivation, few double forms exist (and none of those are growing here), and most have no fragrance at all while those that do, lack the heady perfume of the garden peonies of lactiflora origins. In addition to the information on this page, I had been posting a running commentary on these plants at my Web Log (or Blog) (please use Copy and Paste into browser address box - for some reason I can't create a proper link to this page!); a look at the 2006 and 2007 entries will give an idea of their time and order of flowering as well as additional photos and comment. (the blog stopped a few years ago because I can't get into it anymore; nor have I started a new "Part 2")

Garden peonies are now grown in pots of decent sizes as are some of the species, but many species are now growing in beds.

I currently have for sale:

All peonies were started from seed either in pots or in beds.



2005 was the beginning of an era here, marking the first year of flowering, and hence of availability for sale, of some of the species which I've started growing more recently than anomala and veitchii. Additional selections came into flower and became available in following years, although a few of those may be temporarily unavailable in a flowering size due to fluctuations in population due to sales and coming on of new crops (but they are expected to be available again soon).

Canadian Gardener magazine carried an article in 2006 entitled "Six Weeks of Peonies", which pretty much ignored most of the species, as they were far and away outside of the authors' and consultants' ken. In fact here the first of the peonies to flower according to that article is three weeks after the first to flower for me and there are several species which precede their 6 weeks. So if I had some of their later candidates, I could have 8 or 9 weeks of Peonies; as it is, I have 7 weeks here. The first to bloom here, P tomentosa, starts in late May (early June in 2019!); the latest are the Garden peonies, of which some are still in flower in mid-July.

Plants listed are available by ordering by mail prepaid for August/September delivery. September is the best time of year to transplant bare-root peonies (August is good too for some of the species), with second choice being later in the fall.

My species peonies are all grown from seed and come to you as the entire root, I aren't [sic!] doing divisions of them. Seed origins these years is almost exclusively from my own open-pollinated plants (Yay for bees!). The parent plants were mostly grown from seed which purportedly came from the wild, from plants in gardens (my own or elsewhere in the world), or in the case of seed acquired commercially: of unknown provenance. Seed from plants growing in gardens may have been pollinated from other species of peonies, or different forms of the same species. The hybrids may be fairly obvious to the untrained eye, or may appear identical to the seed parent.

Some seed batches have widely diverse foliage or flower characteristics, and some are quite uniform. So far, one of the most uniform batches is of wild origin, and the most diverse batches are anomala and veitchii from seed of my own plants; these two species flower concurrently here most years and may very well be hybridizing. Asian botanists consider veitchii to be a subspecies of anomala, which would explain why they are so eager to cross here. The fun continues.

Paeonia anomala 0570 $25.00

photos: ...flower ...plant ... seed ...carpel ...flower variant ... another ...

Common names: Anomalous Peony (but don't ask me why). Seed origin: my garden plants. A mid-height perennial, hardy to zone 3 or colder. LOW MAINTENANCE. Of Upright habit, colonizing mainly by slowly creeping rootstocks. Slow-growing and of very long lifespan. Height: to 2', and 3' wide. Native to Russian NW Kola peninsula/ C Asia/ the Altai/ Mongolia/ N China/ W Gobi. Should be the hardiest species! Variable in form and flower colour depending on where in its very wide range the plant or seed originated. My original plants resemble the form Halda finds "north of Baikal", but only somewhat. This is the plant written up on the Canadian Peony Society website Species pages. Plants of the current seed batch are more variable in fineness of leaf division and flower colour than I've seen before. Recommended site: sun or light shade. Soil: fertile to good, sandy loam, reliably moist but well-drained. Deep soil. Naturally occurs in coniferous woods, dry grasslands, rocky hillsides, amongst shrubs. For me, does well in some shade in a "normal" clay-based garden soil on a slight slope. Crown of the root likes to be exposed, and dormant buds form on the exposed part: probably trying to find a cold enough winter temperature. Foliage deep green; of fine texture. Fine leaves deeply divided in segments of varying width from one plant to another. Large flowers are borne as individuals for about a week in late spring. Flower single, rather flat, usually a rose pink with a silky sheen and texture which many find very attractive, but sometimes darker or lighter. Earlier blooming than garden peonies by a few weeks, but not the earliest of the species. May develop sidebuds if very happy in cultivation, but I haven't seen any on mine yet. Seed pods are not the showiest among peonies but not too bad either; green, turning brown when ripe, opening to display large shiny black oval seeds. Some uses: Accent, Borders and Beds, Focus, in Shrubbery, Specimens, Foliage, Cut Flowers, Decorative Seed Pods, Naturalizing Meadows, Naturalizing Woodlands.

Paeonia caucasica (Paeonia mascula) 1669 $35.00

photos: ...flower ...plant...leaf (darker form)... plant again ...carpel... seed...

...also goes by the name(s) Paeonia daurica; Paeonia mascula subsp. mascula... Grown from seed collected in SE Republic of Georgia (NOT the Georgia in the USA!). Common name(s): Caucasus Peony. A mid-height perennial, hardy to Zone 5, and probably colder. Clump-forming and of long lifespan. Height: to 1.5-2ft. Native and endemic to the Caucasus mountains (where Europe meets W. Asia). Stems branching, 1.5-3ft tall. Flowers rose-violet or deep-rose. Closely related to Paeonia mascula, or a subspecies thereof according to some botanists; from what I can see in my plants, any visual differences are rather minor (but flowers a bit smaller), but caucasica seems to be easier and faster to grow from seed. Naturally occuring in forests, shrub thickets and grassy meadows at altitudes of 900-2000m. Light required: part shade to sun (vigorous in my woodland test bed). Soil: not fussy-- does well in normal garden soil for us. Said to be lime-tolerant. Environmental Wetness: moist to dryish. Plants in sandy soils tend to have more leaves and flower sparsely, whilst those growing on clay take longer to become established but produce better blooms. Strongly resents root disturbance, taking some time to recover after being divided. Good foliage, dark green above, grey-green beneath. Attractive rounded leaflets. Large sumptuous flowers rosy-red to red-pink; borne singly at the tips of the stems for about a week several weeks before the garden peonies and one of the earlier species to flower. Fat fuzzy seed pods opening green and quite showy when open. For Borders, Woodlands, Foliage. Flowers used in a red dye. Also has herbal uses.

Paeonia mlokosewitschii 1348 $50.00

photos: ...flower ...plant...carpel... seed ...

There is just one of the good solid mid-yellow this year.

But I also have a few fine variants - see end of this segment.

... Common name(s): Golden Peony; Caucasian Peony. A Mid-height perennial, hardy to Zone 3. Low Maintenance in a proper site. Of Upright habit, forming colonies primarily by forming a slowly expanding (or creeping) Clump from rhizomes. Slow-growing and of very long lifespan. Height: to 1.5-2ft (approaching 3ft in cultivation). Native to SE Caucasus originally thought to be specifically to the region of the valley of Lagodekhi but their range is turning out to be somewhat wider, into Iran and Armenia etc. Stunning for a very brief period each year and with pretty good foliage for the rest of the growing season. A garden classic. Light required: Sun to Partial Shade. Soil: good, prefers a good loam. Environmental Wetness: Requires reliable moisture, and good DRAINAGE esecially in winter. Optimal Fertility: highly fertile (top-dressed yearly). Has a few pests to watch for. Seldom bothered by diseases. Naturally occurring on sunny slopes in hornbeam/oak forest. Generally easy to grow, but seems less adaptable than lactiflora or officinalis. Does reasonably well for me in mainly bright shade except for a few hours full sun around midday, in a raised bed with light soil mix meant for Azaleas (loam to sandy loam, with lots of organic matter); in the prairies reliable irrigation is critical, since this species seems to require more moisture than most others. Mloko was desperately unhappy in the dry open field, and grows reasonably well in my woodland test bed where the flowers stand out wonderfully in the shade, although it is not as vigorous as in a sunnier locations. Foliage of average density; mid-green to blue-ish green depending on the plant; leaves quite large, of coarse textural effect. Lobing is larger and more rounded than what we are used to seeing on Paeonia. Purple highlights and a waxy surface texture. Very excellent at all times throught the growing season. Very large light yellow flowers are borne one per stalk for a week or two in late spring. Single form. The colour is variably described as lemon to butter. Golden stamens, purple sepals. Seed pods sometimes colour to red as they ripen, and all are particularly striking when they open. In it's native area it blooms in April; here it blooms in early June usually. May be susceptible to bud damage by late frosts in some areas? Some uses are: for the perennial Border...for visual amongst a Specimen plant...for the effect of its Foliage...makes a good Cut Flower for arrangements... in wildflower Meadows...

Paeonia mlokosewitschii hybrids 1348P $50.00

photos: ...flower ...

These "apricot" to "peach" hybrids (pale yellow-ish with pink markings) have in the past had a much better fragrance than the species itself, markedly spicey along the lines of cloves or allspice; but none of this year's batch do. The red/pink highlights are most marked upon the opening of the flower, and fade during the week or so of the bloom. They are all quite similar with only subtle differences in the markings (and the degree of pink changes each day as the flower matures and ages) so this year I have chosen not to give them separate numbers. The photos with the 19xx numbers are representative of the batch.






Paeonia mlokosewitschii hybrid "Ugly Duckling" 1348U $50.00

There are 2 of this curiosity available, from seed of the original. Frankly, these surprised me, I hadn't realized that any of them were in the pipeline.

buds open a dull pinkflowers fade to yellow over a few days

The fading is quite attractive, because the veins of the petals fade much more slowly than the tissue between the veins. Rate of fading depends on the weather: faster in warm temperatures. For more on this flower see this link (copy and paste):


Paeonia veitchii 0569 $25.00

photos: ...flower ...plant ...leaf (one of the finer ones)... another ...darker form ... carpel ...seed ...

... Common names: Veitch's Peony. Seed origin: my garden plants. A low perennial, hardy to zone 3 or colder. LOW MAINTENANCE. Of Upright habit, colonizing mainly by slowly creeping rootstocks. Slow-growing and of very long lifespan. Height: to 1-1˝', and 3˝' wide. Native to Kansu in NW China. Some of these resemble the smaller ssp woodwardii, others are in foliage like veitchii but with some darker flowers. Mostly 10 petals on the darker pinks, 5 on the paler ones. Recommended site: sun to part shade. Soil: good to rich, loamy, reliably moist but well-drained. Easily grown. Deep soil required, incorporating some clay and organic matter but NOT fresh manure. Plant with eyes no deeper than 1-2" or flowering will be drastically reduced. Some references recommend heavy (ie much clay) soil, others recommend a sandy soil (which may well be closer to the soils of its' natural range). Foliage of fine texture. Finely divided into pointed segments. Glaucous undersides. Large flowers are borne in a small panicle for a few weeks in late spring, 3 to 7 buds per stem although only 3 usually open; but the sidebuds increase the duration of flowering significantly. Flower colour: shades of pink to magenta red. Flowering is a few weeks earlier, and overlaps with, the "garden peonies". Single, flattish bowl-shaped. There is a white form. Some uses: Accent, Borders and Beds, Focus, in Shrubbery, Specimens, Foliage, Cut Flowers, Naturalizing Meadows.

Garden Peony:

Mid-height to tall perennials, hardy to zone 3 usually. LOW MAINTENANCE. Of Upright habit, colonizing mainly by slowly creeping rootstocks. Slow-growing and of very long lifespan. Height: variable by individual. Recommended site: sun or light shade. Soil: rich good, loam or heavy clay-loam, reliably moist but well-drained. Easily grown. Deep soil required, incorporating some clay and organic matter but NOT fresh manure. Plant with eyes no deeper than 1-2in or flowering will be drastically reduced. Some references recommend heavy (ie much clay) soil, others recommend a sandy soil (which may well be closer to the soils of the natural range of some species); the lighter, better draining soil is more necessary in the maritimes due to the warmer and wetter winters. Foliage coarse. Large flowers are borne as individuals for a few weeks in late spring, although some types have a few secondary flowers (sidebuds) per stem. Flower colours and form variable. May be fragrant. Some uses: Accent, Borders and Beds, Focus, in Shrubbery, Specimens, Cut Flowers.

One useful observation from several years of growing: if you find your peonies grow too tall or with too flimsy a stem, try them in sun in a dry, unwatered and unfertilized site on a slope, in full sun. My plants in such a field grow somewhat shorter and, because they are always exposed to the winds, the stems are stronger than those grown in sheltered sites. But I think the main factor is reduced water and nutrition.

Paeonia lactiflora or hybrids 0983 $10.75

photos: ...flower ...plants ...

Height: to 2-3'. Unnamed seedlings which I raised from seed of my named plants, and from plants in others' gardens. After years of struggling with label issues ranging from disappearing to (somehow!!) moving around, I'm simplifying my life by scrapping "free choice" and the picture gallery. Those who choose to order Garden Peonies will receive a random selection, that is-- whatever comes to hand first when I'm putting the order together. Well, not totally random: the plants must be healthy and have a decent root of course. Where possible I'll select for differences in foliage since that is sometimes an indicator of different flower colour. Nor will I always take just the largest plants, because sometimes a less common or outlier colour will be a less vigorous plant.



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