Best, darkest peony?

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

I wonder if anyone has suggestions for their favorite very dark peony? I'm trying to put some "edge" into my garden with some nearly black flowers. So far I'm considering Chocolate Soldier, John Harvard, and Mahogany, among others. I do have a Buckeye Belle which is dark red, but I'm hoping to go even darker in a peony that is not too fussy or hard to grow.

Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

I have a 'Hot Chocolate' planted last fall. Try the nursery link below. They have both 'Chocolate Soldier' and 'Hot Chocolate' plus a few other dark peonies.

http://peonyparadise.com/herbaceouspeonies.aspx

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Thanks. I hope you'll tell me about the blossoms this spring.

Minot, ME


One of my personnal favorite blooms last year was John Harvard beautiful dark peony.I also planted Hot Chocolate last fall and can't wait to see it bloom.

Naugatuck, CT(Zone 5a)

my fav is Chocolate Soldier, was beautiful in the garden last spring.

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

check here
http://www.peonysenvy.com/e_zilianwangyue.html

In my search for black, I've only had the darkest tulips, irises and zantedeschias.

Naugatuck, CT(Zone 5a)

Like that Black dragon! They will be at the flower show this weekend, maybe they will have that.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Darn. I just went to Adelman's. Have bought from them before and saw Chocolate Soldier but took a pass. Now with the discussion above I went and looked at both of the. I will be traveling down there in May and was thinking I could just pick one up. What am I thinking? I have two coming this fall from Reath's and will probably have to dig up 'something' in my garden to make room for them! So many gorgeous colors and forms and sooooo little garden space.

Naugatuck, CT(Zone 5a)

Hit the flower show today, Peony Envy was there, buy 4 get one free. Came home with BlackDragon, Henry Bocktose, Blue Chrysantemum, Black Mulberry and Show Girl....making me one happy girl!

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I drool with envy!!

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

I agree that Black Dragon looks great and very inviting in the photo. The Peony Envy catalog looks very very appealing all around. I have read that singles that are dark in color stand up better in hot sun than the doubles which might need a little sun protection. I don't know if there are any more New England flower shows left this late in the season to get good deals, but I want one! I want to fill my yard with peonies...

Kansas City, MO

Dark peonies especially the tree ones do better in light shade. The flowers last longer because they do not absorb as much heat from the sun when planted where they can be screened especially during the bloom season.

Naugatuck, CT(Zone 5a)

Did not know that, thanks for the info

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Thanks from me too. Seems there will be much to learn about the herbacious dark ones as well to to get some dark "trees" in the spots with afternoon shade. For example, the dark color is desired, but so is a vigorous plant. I'm also trying to consider whether the darkest ones will be better in my "red" garden, which has room now that we had to remove a large tree, or with the mixed lavenders and pinks and blushes in another area. It helps to see them in bloom and I haven't! The answer is probably both places. It is sooo hard to be patient and wait for some blooms on a mystery peony (very vigorous growth of foliage in the gallon pot) that the historical society gave me during a peony hunt at their plant sale last year. I'm hoping it will be a dark variety, or at least red, considering the leaves are dark, the stems retained their red color all season , and there was even some red veining on the leaves. I didn't use my camera last year as I was so busy planting!

Kansas City, MO

Plant where the foliage looks best. You can not go by the coloration of the foliage when it is opening in the spring. Off the top of my head I can not remember the name but there are several peonies that have very yellow green foliage as the season progresses. Which then leads to watching the foliage all season for the various changes. Some have leaves that split naturally and others expand without splitting. The ones that split always seem to have the best flowers but should be planted to blend in rather than to stand out in the garden as cutting foliage too early can reduce the number of flowers as the foliage feeds the roots.

I won't get into the fall colors some peonies have for now.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Thanks for the suggestion, Ah3815. To continue your thought, the peony Picotee has a pale pink blossom and bright red stems and dark green leaves, so that might be my mystery plant too. Of my current plants, the mystery plant is also the only one with vivid fall leaf color. Indeed, an interesting quality. If there's a dark single peony with yellow-green foliage, that would be a must have!

Greenwood, IN(Zone 5b)

I have Chocolate Soldier though no bloom last year (first year) but it is budded out this year so we'll see.

I have several Hot Chocolates.....one of my absolute favorites...this plant had about 10 blooms last year and I counted 22 buds this year, which is I think year four. And it absolutely does not fade at all...even in Texas' sun and heat. Fairly late bloomer for me relative to the other peonies. Really a great peony. Striking with the yellow lilies. This is last year's pic.

Thumbnail by SteveIndy
Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Steve, that is the absolute best photo of Hot chocolate I've seen! What is your yellow lily? I would hope to be able to achieve the same timing, albeit in my zone.

Greenwood, IN(Zone 5b)

Hi Rosemary and thank you!! I think the lily is "London". This photo is from May 1, 2010. We are off-set from a typical zone 5 garden by about a month...meaning any given plant will usually bloom about a month earlier here. That was the case with my mom's garden up in Illinois, which was 5b I think. Hopefully you could achieve the same timing and have no doubt you'll come up with something beautiful. I really do recommend HC if you're willing to try it. I think I got the one in the attached pic from Klehm and have several others I planted in the last year or two from Hollingsworth. All are budding up so I expect blooms within three weeks or so. Klehm advertised HC as an early peony and Hollingsworth said it was late; I have to say that Hollingsworth's statement was correct at least for me...this is one of my last ones to bloom.

Naugatuck, CT(Zone 5a)

I got my chocolate soldier from Swenson Gardens, huge roots, flowered first year.

Tomah, WI

Steve, I just love that photo of Hot Chocolate! I can see why it is one of your favorites!

Greenwood, IN(Zone 5b)

Thanks Becky.....I went overboard on the HC's since I like them so much, probably added 6 more over the past two years. They will look really great once they get some maturity. Maybe one will find its way to your house this fall :-)

BTW I moved your daylilies into my newer bed last fall.....they looked spectacular in the large pot I had them in and now I want to see what they really can do.

Kansas City, MO

Steve, are all the HC's from the same source? One of my pet ideas is that the same cultivar from different sources will be slightly different. Perhaps not in flower but in leaf and stem structure. It is something in the different growing conditions and soil type that makes a difference. After several years they adapt to your soil conditions.

Greenwood, IN(Zone 5b)

Alana, I have some from Klehm and some from Hollingsworth. They are in different beds so I know which are which. The "newer" ones are from Hollingsworth as they just offered it a couple of years ago and Klehm typically alternates years in terms of what they sell I guess to build up inventory. Both seem to bloom well and I will note differences I see in structure. I will say the "H" peonies seem to have much higher bud counts for this variety first year...Klehm's were generally one or two flowers first year and Hollingsworth's were four or five. both seem to grow well and the Klehm plants, in the ground longer, have multiplied eyes/stems/flowers and have expanded well. You make some interesting points so I will observe and let you know what particular things I find.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Steve, just saw your Hot Chocolate.

Ah, interesting what you say about differences. I was at a peony outing at Klehm's and the Adelmans (lovely people) were there and brought their peonies. The Adelmans' peonies were saturated with color. Others had very fine peonies but they didn't compare. I had some of the same peonies in my garden and the differences were incredible. Their flowers were 50% larger than mine. Clearly the soil made the difference. Others remarked on it. I'm wondering if those amazing peonies would "return to planet earth" if I moved them to my garden.

Donna

Greenwood, IN(Zone 5b)

Donna, that makes sense; I hear that lilies and other plants grown in that region have deeper colors as well. Might be soil but also sun intensity. Cloudy or overcast days will help deepen the color, too. Our sun is so intense it tends to bleach many things.

There is a physical difference between the roots from the three companies, also. Adelman roots tend to have one or two very thick, long almost "taproots" and few side roots or offshoots. Klehm's are much shallower and there are many more of them and the individual roots are smaller but the root ball from Klehm is wider around. Hollingsworth's are somewhere between the two but somewhat closer to Klehm's. The absolute biggest sets of roots I got all came from Adelman. Can'r really see much difference in number of eyes or flower development. If anything the Hollingsworth peonies seem to have the highest first-year budcounts. All three seem to do equally well over time.

Wonder if like you say they morph into a state typical for the geographic area they're in over time.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Ah, that explains the difference in the roots I've seen. Some of them have the eyes so far up the stalk that you have to dig halfway to China to get them properly situated. Those are the ones I tend to install so deeply that they don't bloom for years. But that has to do with my own ineptitude, not the roots.

I suspect that they come back down to earth in our soil and heat. Maybe they should send a few gallons of soil with the peonies (can you imagine the shipping costs?)

Donna

Greenwood, IN(Zone 5b)

LOL Donna your comment about digging to China made me crack up.....I had the same experience esp. with the Adelman roots. The Bartzella and Cream Puff I got from them were so huge and the eyes so spread out that I had to situate it diagonally just to a) have a hole deep enough and at the same time b) keep the eyes close enough to the surface as required here when the seemed to be spread out on all sides of the root. I think where the Adelman peonies are grown they must have a much deeper topsoil. I will say the Klehm and Hollingsworth plants are easier to plant. Can't say that the Adelman roots necessarily generate more flowers but that big root mass has to make for a strong plant. To be honest I would rather have more small flowers (relatively) on a plant than just a few big ones. If your showing them, the large ones would be more important but the masses of small ones make for a better show. I look at my plants that are three and four years old (I have not been doing peonies en masse as long as many of you....my oldest plant at this house has been here five years) and I see no difference in flower quality or quantity per plant.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Five years! I'm really surprised that your oldest peony was only installed five years ago. According to my records, my earliest one (Festiva Maxima, of course!) was installed in 2001). I always thought that you had been growing them forever. Of course, you are referring to your CURRENT house, cause I know you threw wild peony parties at your earlier house in Texas and probably when you were up north.

Those awkward roots were actually better for me. I had so much trouble getting them to where I thought they were supposed to be (two inches deep - which is too deep here) that they came up quickly. I have peonies that have been in the ground five plus years without showing a peep, simply because it took that long for the excess soil to wash away.

I agree that I'd rather have more smaller flowers. But now I understand why some of my peonies are so sumptuous. How time flies - they're ten years old!

Kansas City, MO

Adelman's is in the Willamette Valley. The valley is formed between two mountain ranges which contain several volcanos including Mt Hood. The last glaciers would have released their soils and various minerals down the valley since the Columbia River was the southern limit. All these combine to make a good base for growing many plants.

If any of you are going to the APS meeting you need to leave at least one or two extra days for shopping and if you are flying either bring an extra large suitcase or plan on purchasing a new one once you know how much room you need. Include some large plastic bags, I use the 1 and 2 gallon ones.

You should not take any of the soil home but rely on planting material since the virburnims from the area in middle Oregon have been found to have a problem that could effect your oaks.

For you history buffs the area is rich in history. To my joy it is also within couple of hours drive to the ocean depending which route you drive, wine or no wine.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

OK., that does it! I've gotten peonies from just about every other source. Now I'll have to get my next order from Adelman's. The roots of charm and coral peonies I got from The Peony Farm in Sequim Washington last fall have been super growing athletes already. On the Adelman's list for the dark ones , I see Hot Chocolate, John Harvard, Chocolate Soldier, and... has anyone ever grown President Lincoln? That's just their herbacious list. Black Panther is there too, I think. Course there are other beautiful colors to buy. Is it possible to get too many peonies on one's property? as in when they warned us not to plant all ash, or elm or hemlock trees because they could all spread disease? I'm watching for mildew or boitritis (sp?), but who knows? Are others using any helpful fungi or nemotodes for peony?

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

that does it! I am having my husband's putting green dug up. that will give me room for maybe another dozen peonies. And he won't care as he has used it exactly once if four years. Says he won't retire until I am gone (explanation: I am quite a bit older than he) and he can putt then. lol

Greenwood, IN(Zone 5b)

Rosemary, I have President Lincoln and it has buds...when it blooms I will post pics. Pretty sure I got from Adelman.

Donna, you are right...I did have some at my other house and they were just getting some size when I bought the new place. So I have FEW more years with them but still nothing like many of you!

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

The former owners had 3 tree peonies and about a dozen herbaceous peonies when we moved in 2005 (mostly pink double peonies). We've added at least eighteen herbaceous peonies, mostly singles and Japanese. We are in love with peonies.

Greenwood, IN(Zone 5b)

Interesting, cathy.......I have mostly Japanese and singles too though do have several doubles now. Another good dark variety is Port Royale - not as dark as Hot Chocolate but still really nice. This pic was taken May 2, 2010.

Thumbnail by SteveIndy
Naugatuck, CT(Zone 5a)

Steve, nice color and form, have never seen that one before, will have to have it!

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

It's a beauty!

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

I think I'm going to have to turn an entire area over to every kind of dark red peony. My kids don't need to play badmitten or basketball anywhere! If we had a putting green like mstella's I'd probably sacrifice that too!

Greenwood, IN(Zone 5b)

Thanks all - I have it next too Fancy Nancy and they look really good together. All budded up so can't wait till it blooms. Got it at Klehm about three falls ago.

Lewisburg, KY(Zone 6a)

Does Hot Chocolate have a fragrance?

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