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I have to admit I don't know a thing about them. I noticed most just post pics of the flower, but I am interested in seeing some pics of the whole thing, how tall do they get, are they tall or more wide like a bush? after they bloom, then what? will they bloom again or wait til next year? deciduous I assume? Are they hardy down to -10?
Do they need any fancy pruning?
Hi Frillylily - I have 5 different tree peonies, and all of them have different growth habits. I have two of these single reds. They grow very slowly, and always have only a few flowers, and do not branch much. So, no pruning is needed. This one has stayed about 3 feet for the last few years. The flowers are striking, and is an early bloomer - beginning of April All tree peonies only bloom once a year. I purchased these tree peonies from places where they are sold as red, pink or white tree peony, so no idea of the species.
Next to bloom is my pink tree peony. This one is about 10 years old. For the first 5 years, no pruning was needed. It got to be over 6 feet tall, and I wanted to keep it in check. I cut off about a third of it's branches each year, until I got it back down to about 4 feet. Now I prune off the tallest branches each year.
This white tree peony is a few years younger than the pink one. I have not had to prune it yet. It tends to grow out and branch out more than it grows upward . It is getting bigger than I like. The set of branches on the left that is leaning out of the brick planter - I will be pruning those off at the end of the year, and maybe prune a few of the taller ones.
This last one is an entirely different matter. I have had this one for about 7 years. It never gets taller than 3 feet. Sometimes it is due to my accidentally knocking off a branch or two, or there is a natural dieback, or other reasons. This is the only one that has enough of a distinct coloring and growth habit (flowers hanging down) that I can pin it down to being possibly a kinkasu.
I do like to take pictures of whole plants - for the very reasons that you stated in your post. It is nice to see what the plant looks like in the garden and whole plant shots gives you a good perspective. I am throwing this close up in because you can't really appreciate the bloom of the Kinkasu with it being face down. LoL.
So, in short, tree peonies comes in all shapes and sizes. You will just have to see how yours do in the spot that you have it in, and how tall you want it. Pruning to shape does not appear to hurt the peonies that I have. And yes, they are deciduous.
Since I live in a climate where 20 degrees F is considered downright freezing, I will let others answer your question in regards to their hardiness down to -10 degrees.
Hi there. Figured I would chime in on tree peonies from the other end of the thermometer. I live in Alaska and +65 is a nice average summer day, with -20 being on the lower end in winter Anchorage. I have four tree peonies, planted three and four years ago. This year is the first time they have bloomed. I was told they set blossoms one year to bloom the next so my pruning probably exacerbated the lack of blooms. I didn't do it last year and one plant (Kimata Nishiki) had three huge blossoms. The other only one, but it was also huge. These are both Japanese trees. I think that next year the two Chinese trees will bloom. I caged them last winter, wrapped in burlap, and filled with leaves. Don't know if this helped or they were just ready to do their thing. Was told that the sun and wind desiccate them, killing off the bloom buds. It also worked well for my rhododendrums. They came through in gorgeous shape and were covered in blooms. I like the tree peonies because they have a sturdier stem and there is no need to 'prop' them up. I also favor intersectionals for the same reason. I only have one herbaceous, Red Charm, and it seems to have stronger stems also but huge deep red flowers.
The Research Station at Palmer Alaska will be doing research on growth of peonies in your state. There are several peony cut flower farms in your state that the research could perhaps help. You would have to contact them directily to see if they will be doing a newsletter or for future publications on peonies. Of course research on other plants can be used on your own plants. Just needs thinking outside of the box.
Yes, indeed. Even the University of Alaska, Fairbanks is doing research on them. Herbaceous only I believe. The peony farms are enjoying a wonderful success. Our peonies bloom far later than the ones 'down south' and so there is a worldwide interest in ours to cover the hole in production that occurs much past July. they have requests for thousands of stems from all over the world. The local botanical garden had a speaker on the subject at their annual spring conference aimed at commercial growers. Guess I should have also mentioned that I am in a tiny micro climate within the Anchorage bowl. I can grow things that are 'rated' for zone 5, while the rest of Anchorage ranges more like Zones 3 and 4. I don't know if anyone else in the lower part of Alaska has had success with blooming tree peonies. Thanks for the info on the Palmer Research Station. I honestly didn't even know they had one. Duh. Palmer is heavy into farming so I should have guessed.
You probably already know her but Judy Wilmarth there in Anchorage helped start the Alaska Peony Society. It is good to know you are having success with tree peonies. She grows them in pots but has had little success in the ground.
The research at Palmer is just getting off the ground. I found it funny that when I attended my hubby's school reunion that the lady sitting across from me wanted to know about growing peonies in Alaska thinking it could not happen. It turns out she live right next to the research facility. I suggested that she at least try tree peonies.
So it is through your husband that you are familiar with what's going on in Alaska? And since you are on Dave's Garden, 'things growing' would be of interest? How funny to find out all this from someone in Missouri. I will have to look up Judy Wilmarth. I can't remember the name of the lady in the valley who rather leads the pack in commercial peony growing. Could be her. Thanks again for your information. It is much appreciated.
Oh no. I have been a member of HPS since about the third year after it's founding. Also APS, NWPS and MAPS. However I found out about Palmer at this years APS meeting. Hubby is only interested during bloom season. I am the all year peony gardener. I helps that although I talk a lot I also listen. Judy W. has been on at least one HPS field trip to Gilbert Wild in southern Missouri and has emailed me several times about her in ability to winter over tree peonies. I have given her several suggestions to try. A big but is that what works in one are may not work in another. So I have a tendency to pick up tibits on various types of gardening from here and there.
One of the things I am against is the reliance on the zone system. More depends on your own weather, spring rains vs late summer etc. and types of soils than the zones. I used to be repressed and never opened my mouth. Now I can not shut it. Would be nice if I had the follow through for my ideas but would rather have someone follow through on my suggestions.
but you say that Judy keeps her tree peonies in pots, not in the ground to winter them over?
I agree on the zone thing. I lose some of my experiments when I buy out of zone, but I will try anything up to a zone 5 here in Anchorage. Maybe I should get wild and crazy and try some zone 6 stuff. lol. Might work. My Helleborus are doing great after three years. Flowers have been fairly few but I hope that after several years in the ground they will kick in as have many of my other flowers. Now, if I would just stop moving them.
Judy told me that putting in pots and bringing them in was the only way she had been able to have them live over. Last time we corresponded she was pruning dead areas out. I suggested what I normally do that she cut some of the branches that had live buds on them short and put in an area that they would not be disturbed to see what would happen. My theory is that if the buds live they would be adapted to her weather and climate differences.
As far as pots go someone in PA sent me an email of a Japanese company that sells tree peonies. Luckily the part I was sent was in English. In the far right column some of the plants have notations that they are suitable for growing in pots.
I should have mentioned that the spelling on some of the plants is apparently the translators own version. There are a couple on the list I will be looking for for the HPS sale. HPS does not use this group and I have not ordered from them. The list is just for information.