There is a home near me that has been sold and will be knocked down and a couple of new houses built. There are seberal old peonies there and it happened one day I met the son of the original owner. He told me his mother put the peonies in in the 1960's and gave me permission to dig. One was a gorgeous deep dark red so I wanted a piece. It was still blooming beautifully this year.
Last night a friend and I went over well armed to dig a tough old root. To our surprise the roots came out very easily in many pieceslk some partially broken up, others filled with what appeared to be dirt, one was still quite damp. There were a reasonable number of eyes on some of the pieces.
I emailed a peony expert today wth some pics.
She told me this was typical of a very old peony and if there were eyes I should clean out all the rot ( what I thought was dirt was rot inside the large roots) , soak in a 10% bleachj solution for about 10 minutes and plant normally.
So I have clean out as much as possible, soaked in water and letting dry so I can clean of more of the old rot, cut the broken ends so they are smooth and will find a spot of two to plant and see what happens.
Amazing, huge plant there fancy. It seems like being in there that long, it would have been a bear to dig out of there. I was so surprised to hear otherwise! That's a lot of years in the ground. Look forward to seeing it bloom for you next spring too. It sounds very lovely.
Depending on the plant if you would dig the newly planted pieces in a couple of years you should find normal looking roots growing from the pieces. I have seen where all you have is the original piece with lots of hair roots also. You might want to plant several pieces separately to see which you get and report back for those people that look at your pictures and think nothing good would ever come from those pieces.
Oh yeah, i've seen roots like that before. :) I've dug roots like that before! I must say they all came back like champs, too. Of course, they are still settling in and it will take them a year or so yet to develop a nice bloom, but they are trying. :) I can't wait to see them next year Fancy!! Please do post pictures, ok?
I went back twice more with two different people and we dug the roots in the back yard - all we know is one is light, maybe pink and one is dark. We will all be surprised next spring ( at least I hope it will be next spring!) - so I have another 2 old timers. It has been interesting finding spots for all these extra roots!
Here is a picture of a root I just received in a trade. It was to be a fern leaf peony but there was no way to tell since it came with no leaf. It was from the yard of a 80 year old lady who shared with a member here and I hope I have a fern leaf peony when it blooms next spring.
I dont recall that I have ever seen a P. Tenuifolia root( even though I have one!) but Oldgardenrose has a couple of photos in the first 2010 peony thread - it is post number 7633684. Does look similar - do you see any eyes, I cant tell from you pic. Maybe OGR will see this and comment.
At first glance, it appears you just have a piece of a root from a herbaceous or a herb/fern hybrid. I do not see any eyes or a crown where the eyes/buds would sprout. A lot of people call the hybrids fern leaf but the root system is different and the leaves tend to be from slightly broader to as large as 1/4th the size of a normal leaf. Try washing the root sections you have and look for either remanents of green stalks or eyes which would probably be white at this time of the year. Without a crown for new growth, it should not sprout after planting. I may have some pics from where I replanted mine.
I did not see eyes and was not familiar with any root of this type. I have washed it well, turned it over and looked inside out but don't see eyes. It's planted in a pot where it has a 'sprout' like anything would in dirt - like a bean sprouts but there doesn't appear to be 'eyes'. I can take more pictures if that would help. I received this as a trade for some general plants but I don't want to send my side if this is a useless 'thing'. There is NO evidence of green or eyes.
This is a certified species P.tenuifolia from a highly respected peony grower. There are some longer, stringly roots with new eyes on them which are not completely visible in the pic. They are called stolons, as far as I can read, and the plant spreads as each eye on the stolons puts down new roots and possibly creates a new stolon. That is the overall explanation, subject to minor corrections, of the root system on the species P.tenuifolia. The one double red species I moved about 5 years ago had the tubers held together to the crown by stringy looking roots, much like small sweet potatoes. The one my wife tried to surprise me with a couple of years ago had the same type of roots. Sadly, she had no idea of what she was digging and chopped it with a shovel. A fifty year old heirloom destroyed but the thought was nice. Her grandmother had given it to her mother and I was to inherit it for preservation.
This is a pic of a standard peony about 5 or 6 years old. Showing it as a sample of a crown with multiple eyes. The one Fancy dug could easily be 4 or 5 times larger. I am afraid the roots you have are just roots. Without eyes, there is no peony except for an exception or two involving adventitious buds which are rare.
Those peony "tubers" do look odd and there is absolutely no signs of active growth. In fancyvan's case, the older roots were rotted, but there was green growth in parts of the sections. But, you did say that there were sprouts so at least it shows that it is alive???
I think the trader had at some point changed the description from a fern leaf peony to a regular peony. I asked for clarification, but did not receive any response. Here is a photo of a box of peony tubers that I got last fall from a friend that is in line of what healthy splits looks like. They were packed in perlite - hence the white coating. Granted they are newer plants, and not a really old one. It could be that you got the center, oldest parts, of the original plant? I would imagine the edges would have newer growth and not be so gnarly looking.
Each to their own but, without having it in my hands to look for active life, I would not invest the 2 or 3 years time to see if it is alive. I just participated in a peony co-op with peonies from a very major grower for 5 peonies + shipping & handling for $76.70. They will be first class clumps. You can find peonies at the big box stores for as little as $5 but the name has at least a 50% chance of being wrong and they are smaller divisions.
I need to move and divide 2 large clumps in order to till the plot and make room for some of my 8 new ones due in September. In order to help you get started, I would gladly send a generous chunk to you for postage. You would be looking at about $11 for a medium flat rate box. Could throw in some nice irises to boot. D-mail me by Sept 1 if you are interested. I forgot, the peony will be 'similar to' Sarah Bernhardt, a large white/light pink
That is a stunning pink !! I love that one. How wonderful of you to offer your Sarah B but I did just receive one from another buddy here. Iris - I've been trading those all summer long. I do appreciate your very generous offer. I guess the 'fern leaf peony' was a lost trade. How sad. One day I'm going to pocket enough money to buy a yellow peony (yeah right).
Fern leaf peonies are treated as special and most people hang on to them. I have 4 double reds and 2 single reds plus the original species single red and I would not want to part with any of them except for a special gift or trade. They are available some years from Hidden Springs Flower Farms at about $30 plus shipping. They are slow to multiply so they are not available all the time and then you need to be among the first to order them.
Maybe you will get lucky, shitsumom, and find one on sale. I just got a yellow tree peony from a local, typically overpriced nursery that caters to weekenders. It was marked down from $45 to $20. I offered $10 and they said yes! Happy me! I had admired it blooming several weeks ago. It didn't have the cultivar on the tag, but it is a very double light yellow.
I am researching it now that my modem was finally replaced and I am back online.
Contrary to the others I would suggest you go ahead and plant in an out of the way place but in the actual ground. I do not believe it is a fern leaf but could be a nice plant anyway. I rescued several peony pieces from behind a local church where they had been tossed. The pieces looked similar. Almost all of them survived and have produced flowers for at least 15 years. I will admit to being afraid of what I would find if I dug one of the plants so I have left alone. Some peonies tissues have the ability to develop roots or plants depending on the chemicals available. This could be just a folktale but since I have seen roots that looked like they had no living tissue grow into nice plants I will not deny there is some truth to the information.
Thanks for all the info and pictures. I too received a piece of "root" from the same member as shihtzumom. I had serious doubts about my piece as well, so am now going to go out in the rain and dig it up, wash it, and see if there has been any change in it since I planted it. Then I guess I will stick it in the ground somewhere, or in a pot, and see what happens. Anyway, thanks. I sure hope that there is something going on, as I really wanted a fern leaf.