I have two Bartzella peonies. I live near Seattle. This has been a mild fall, and the leaves finally turned to mush and fell off. I went out today to hack them off to a few inches above ground, like a herbaceous peony, but they have big live buds all up the stems, like a shrub or tree peony. I know they are a cross between herbaceous and tree peonies. Should I cut them back anyway?
This is not my direct area of expertise - mine is lactifloras. But I would not cut anything live and growing on your peony. My lactifloras are all showing premature growth too (Buds). It seems to be happening with a lot of peoples' lactifloras, and perhaps that is what is happening to you.
My hope is that someone with more direct expertise will help.
I reported the same situation some months ago here in Alaska. And agree it appears to be happening all over. I don't know if anyone else has sent a note to one of the peony growers, so I sent a note to the Adelman's to inquire if they were also experiencing this and if so, did they have any ideas as to why. It is peculiar as it is occuring is such varied places and environments. I am glad for a very deep snow cover over the soil that I somewhat mounded around the buds last fall.
I potted up some peonies and put some in the ground and some in the garage. Two peonies I dug up in October, rather forcefully, are showing pips. I assumed that losing some of their root structure would set them back, but that is not the case. I've been growing peonies since 2003 - not really long, I know. But I have never seen this before. On the one hand it's creepy, but on the other hand I am now quite sure that my roughly dug up peonies will bloom in the spring.
So you potted up two you dug up and put them in the garage? Was wondering how peonies would fare if they arrived very late and needed to be held over winter. What is the temp in your garage? And congrats that your 'rough handling' didn't terminate them.
It is a fun experiment. It is a detached, unheated garage, and it has been as low as 20 degrees in there. I had a choice. I could leave Lady Alexandra Duff in the ground for someone else, or I could try to bring her with me. I installed her in October of 2005, and wondered if six years made her too mature. It was a great plant that produced flowers the first year after planting. But I had to tear the roots to get her out.
According to my notes I pulled her up on September 23. I did not even get her into a pot until October 1. The root was in the trunk of my car!!! She appeared to be completely dormant, with no activity up top, so I assumed that I would have to wait until 2013 for her to bloom. On December 10, as I was moving plants into the garage I noticed pips at the top of the pot that had not been there before. Imagine my excitement! The plant appeared to reach a state of development that exceeded everything she had shown me previously.
I also dug up a Kansas that had been in since 2003 that had never been successful. It was actually regressing, with dead looking root on top. I didn't feel that one was a risk, but I have always suspected that I did not install it correctly, and this was my chance to do so.
So my conclusion is that they just need cold and dirt. And the beauty of the potted peony is that, like the ones I pulled up and potted last April, you have the entire root system, so you are not disturbing them when you plant.
If Steve hadn't been driven so crazy with his own far more complicated move, he probably could have brought a lot of his younger peonies with him. I dug up every peony Steve gave me in 2009 and potted them (lovely man): White Cap, Lois, Burma Joy, Festiva Maxima, White Frost and Coral Charm. With the exception of Coral Charm, they all bloomed. And now they all are showing pips. (By the way, I had to tear out White Frost, too. It's like Festiva Maxima on steroids. It produced 5 first year flowers. And HUGE leaves. And grew two feet tall. It was actually a little scary).
I am beginning to think that necessity is the mother of invention. I have some incredibly beautiful, mature peonies I could not move. You can't snap your fingers and make them mature - it takes time (and I'm not getting any younger). I think I was so used to giving peonies ideal care that I didn't consider the abuse they can take in places where they are neglected.
My problem is that the garage IS heated. Even in the farthest corner on the floor, it is probably still 50F. I could put them by the door, but I have kept turkeys frozen on the floor (concrete naturally) by the bottom of the garage door, so too cold there. I checked my dahlias tubers (on a bottom shelf, wrapped in saran) and they are all still firm. I will pull them on March 1st I suppose as they will just start growning in the saran if I don't. Also have begoinias, gladiolus. Just never tried it with peonies.
What about putting them outside of the garage, but throwing an old blanket over them? I had to do that in early December with some perennials on a south facing because I couldn't get them in the ground. They went nicely dormant, and then I put them in the ground two weeks later. I think that might work. Can you give them a southern, but outside exposure?
Southern exposure not possible as that is the house side of the garage. Yeah, the garage is wonderful. I lived in Fairbanks dealing with -40 to -60 off and on in the winter. Only good thing is that there was less snow as it won't snow at that temp. But my car froze completely. Flat bottoms on all ltires, and like getting into a refrigerator. Too a lot of gas (even at .85 a gallon) to even begin to warm it up. Had to be plugged in (circulating heater, block heater, battery warmer) just to keep it running, or rather get it running. Every morning and evening, to and from work. I had a short somewhere, so every so often the fuse would blow and I would have not heater. Would have to open a window to vent moisture to see out the window. I would put the kids in the back with quilts around them so they wouldn't freeze. I so very much don't miss that. Just try changing a flat at -40. yuk
I've always thought that you have to be a special kind of person to live up there - and to be a gardener as well!
Ok, last thought. My 68 liles are in a minfridge in my basement (yes, I am crazy enough to have a refrigerator for my seeds and bulbs). 40 degrees. That's why I was able to keep my lilies (68 of them - I like to think they are throwing little parties) . But is 40 cold enough for peonies? Perhaps not.
I think the blanket (actually the old quilts I got at the thrift store - 3 for $9.99!) might do the trick. I would put them on top of potted roses in my unhesded garage, where it sometimes got down to single digits.
Well, I was moving to a new house, and I had a ton of lilies that I wanted. I knew that I was moving in early December, and while I couldn't take every single lily, I wanted to make sure that I had at least a couple of the out of commerce ones (Emerald Temple, Amethyst Temple, Silver Sunburst). Some times I just got greedy (no need to take all 4 Silk Roads!). Somwtimes I had grown them from seed and didn't want to start again (Candidum Cascade Strain). I had done this before. I had been sent lilies late in the year and I just put them in my mini, because I knew it would work. So, over a three week period, I dug up or took pots each lily, cleaned it, put it in a litttle plastic bag with some peat moss, and put it in the minifridge.
Sometimes I would walk around the yard and just impulsely take a few more even of lilies that grow easily, like regale. I just knew I couldn't plant ti December, and the alternative was to do this, orlose them. And don't many growers do the same thing with fall dug lilies?
Hey, no way anyone who does this is going to call ANYONE nutso!!!
I'm getting lots of fans in the new neighborhood, since the people here previously (for 20 years) grew puuple coneflowers in the front of the house. They can see a rose on a trellis and lots of promising perennial clumps - what they can't see are the four peonies, the anemonies and the nepeta, as well as pink and white daffs. It will be fun to watch it all develop. Since they were organic gardeners, and concerntrated on veffies, their soil is unbelievable, and there is a full composting set-up in the back. I have more shade, so I moved over epimedium and heuchera, shade tolerant grasses, ferns, and put in Burma Joy, which was on the small shady part of my yard.
I really think I put more energy into moving the garden than anything else, since the movers pointed out to me that they don't move plants - not that I would have let them do it!!!!
Oh my. I kind of wondered. Please please post pics of your new yard. I drool with envy. Of course, you also put a heck of a lot of work and expertise into your yard, so just having the soil, sun/shade combo, sf does not comprise the total equation for a fabulous garden. You are the main ingredient. Kudos.
I am looking forward to your pictures as well. Is your ground frozen or are you able to still work it? Ours is still workable - I went out to check to see if my peonies were putting forth anything new as some of the entries on this forum are showing new growth. I thought how nice it was to poke in the damp soil and not have to deal with any slugs! ^_^. I am not seeing any growth on my peonies yet, but I did see where my daffs are trying to come up and apparently a squirrel had found some of my Giant Snowflake and removed some of those bulbs.
I love the plants you mentioned for your shaded areas - especially the epimedium and the heucheras. I know if I were to move, there would be a lot of plants that would be coming with me as well...
Our ground is not yet frozen! I pu in some minor bulbs just yesterday - chionodoxa and alliums, that I had been keeping in pots.
I am trying to remember where I put my gravetye giants and particularly my ornigothalem nutans, since I was given them by mistake and they are great but can multiply like mad. And I had to put daffs back in the ground where the crazy squirrels dug them up. What are they thinking - Oh, let's dig this up - whoops , these are poisonous- ok, let's leave them sitting on the surface! What boneheads!
I do take the precaution, every winter, of leaving some finished compost in a place where it won't freeze so I can simply put it on top of any minor bulbs the squirrels have dug up.
I LOVE heuchera Firefly. After trying many heucheras, I found that they only the ones that persist, and grow, year after year. So I found it at JL Hudson and had the fun of growing a bunch of them and spreading them around the yard. After paying ten dollars plus for them, it was fun to be able to grow a dozen for about a dollar!
That is what I really do not understand about the squirrels. It isn't like they are eating them!
Love the H. Firefly. The colors are so vibrant and I know the hummers love them as well. I lost mine last year. Not sure if it was the horrible drought we had or the miserable winter that lasted forever afterwards.
You are quite right, they are not eating them. But they leave them on the surface. Which makes them a bit hard to sprout.
I have lost so many heuchers it's not funny. I was particularly persistent with Monet, which is variegated with red flowers, and Cherry Jubilee, which has darker leaves and red flowers. And I just love heucherella (particularly Britgette's Bloom and there was a tiarella called Lacquerleaf that did persist for a few years, and then became wholesale only. Unfortunately, they don't like me!
And yes, I really am having a good time!
Edited for more specifics and to get out the dreaded typos!
I have Purple Pudding (I think that is the color) and one that is 'black something'. They have done really well here. And I got tome tiarella by mistake but now I love the variation in the leaves, sort of green with tints of reddish orange. It would spread like made but I can easily cut the runners. I planted both in front of some bleeding heart and blue poppies and ferns. Just a little garden area but doing quite well.
Our squirrels can't dig up anything as it is all frozen solid. I cannot even imagine being able to see your ground much less dig in it. But we are gaining daylight now as we are past Dec 21 the shortest day of the year.
Couple of comments. The recommended maximum chill temp for peonies to bloom is 40 degrees F. Peonies need to be held at a temperature of that or below for several weeks.
Most refrigerators stop chilling when the surrounding temperature is cold. Some will start sending out warm air or just not work. Depends on which brand you have. Ask a refrigerator sales or repair person.
Donna, I thought I was the only person still planting bulbs at this time, LOL. I've been traveling a lot for the month of December, and just have not had time to finish them. BTW, love your huechera. I've got H. Creme Brûlée that I found years ago, and haven't been able to find it since. In the same bed, some of them have thrived, while others have died off.
I take over our fridge in the basement in the fall to chill my bulbs, and had to get my DH to accept this last year, but he was fine this year.
Ah, you are such a wealth of information, I always learn something new whenever you post.
Thanks for the compliment but most of my information comes from experience. Like putting a frozen turkey in a refrigerator in the garage to thaw only to find that it had spoiled in only four days when the temps in the garage went below freezing and the refrig heated instead of cooled.
Of course learning is the best experience sometimes.
Hmm, I wonder if that is why the fridge in our garage doesn't seem to freeze stuff very well. But our garage is about 50F. The fridge is in a corner by the garage door (where the cars go in) so it might be colder, but that even happens in the summer. I suspect it is just old and tired.
Happy New Year to all! I have been trying to learn how to protect camellias in my zone 6a area, so maybe some of the advice for overwintering carries over for peonies in the colder climates.
One recommendation for winter protection is a product called Microfoam, available in small quantities at some nurseries or used in industrial packing. If the pots are stored in a too cold place such as by the door at Oberon's garage, this product might be worth trying as insulation. It is porous and it lets some light through. My camellia source says to put the first few rows of containers on their sides with tops facing the center, with the top of one container over the bottom of another, then a microfoam sheet placed over all with soil or bricks to secure. They say to put poison mouse bait inside the mound before sealing if there's a local mouse problem.
I actually have quite a few plants that are not zone 5 hardy. I do the same thing I do with my roses, which is to cover them with old quilts and then give them a bit of water at the beginning of each month. Gladioluses I have always dug up and dried, put in brown paper lunch bags, dusted with sulphur, and put them in my basemenet. True, by late spring they would start to sprout and I had to pop them into the ground, but I actually carried glads over for several years. They would tend to increase, espcially Matchpoint.
Here is a hydrangea shishiva I carried over for several years. Not only is it zone 6, but it's in a self watering pot, which exposes it to greater cold. I get plants from Raulston Arboretum and many of them are not zone 5.
I am starting to fall in love with camillia's. Have not purchased any but a small flowering one's picture "grape soda' has me salivating. Apparently they are now blooming in the Southeast but in another blog there are so many to lust after.
I'm finding that if you love something and are sufficiently anal you can make it work. Raulston gave me the plants as a membership bonus. They have very few members up north and try to reward me for a spnsor membership by giving me goodies. I'm supposed to get two plants, and last year they gave me five.
I went to Garfield Park conservatory a couple of years ago in March and camelias were blooming indoors. I had never understood the camelia "thing" until then.At first I didn't even know what they were. Exquisite!
I'm learning that camellia hybrids bloom from fall to spring depending upon the variety, and there is even a Franklin tree cross that blooms in June. There is a historical greenhouse from post revolutionary times that has a famous camellia collection near where we live. Growing them is more difficult than I initially hoped. They are very sensitive to rapid changes in temperature and to too much winter sun, so growing them in my climate is not a slam-dunk, even by purchasing the hardiest cultivars and planting in the shade. William Ackerman's books are probably the best source on cold-hardy camellias. i can't speak for the experts on Sourthern climates.
Some of the blossom types are classified as "peony-formed."
Growing them as foundation plants may solve the problem of finding an evergreen to grow where it's so shady the hemlocks are scraggly, and we can only tolerate so many yew bushes.
Isn't this way early for you to see pips.? I wonder if that means we will all see growth early. Oh, wouldn't that be wonderful. As long as the weather cooperates and doesn't back up on us. Still means three and one half to four more months for me, but still hopeful.
These pictures were taken today, and the pips are getting larger. I have 1 peony that looks as if it's about to put out stems. The weather has been much too warm for this time if year and the plants and bulbs that I have are really confused.
It's finally getting colder this week, and I hope the cold stays for a while to slow the plants down. I never thought I'd wish for cold weather.
Cem, I'm seeing what you are seeing, but we have in fact had cold weather. All but one of my peonies have pips, and they are really quite large. From what I am reading on these forums it has happened to a lot of people this year, and no one seems to know why. I dug up several fairly young peonies in April and put them in pots because I knew I was moving in the winter. Most of them bloomed rather well in pots. I got some into the ground in fall, and others in decorative terra cotta I moved into plastic (because terra cotta cracks in the freeze thaw of my climate) and put them in the garage. And as I noted above, I decided to tear Lady Aleaxnadra Duff out of the ground in September (no pips) and by December she had them.
I don't know what this all means, because I think, like most people, I've never seen it before. I did respond to it by planting my "pipped" peonies higher than I would have otherwise. It is going to be very interesting to see what happens toward traditional peony time.
The only thing I can think of to do is to pile the salt hay mulch higher than i might otherwise do. It is unusual that there hasn't been any real snow this year to create a cover. We've had enormous temperature swings and i don't want frost heaves to completely jettison the new plantings. I also like to plant high to encourage blooms the first year. Only some of my peony crop has pips, and I think the higher ITOHs have been chewed to near the ground where I can see tiny pips at soil level. Some new plantings had them shortly after they were put in in October, so I hope those are just getting their cycle established.
Rosemary, we haven't had any real snow either. We had perhaps a fraction of an inch, and it disappeared overnight.
I definitely see our point about salt hay because it is nice and light. We don't have anything comparable here. In past years I had a bit of an issue with people coming through and tromping the eyes, since I was on a corner and they would cut through. Surrounding my beds with granite and hardware cloth took care of almost all of them, but I actually have a gift Coral Charm I have never seen bloom because damaged the pips. Mt new peony locations are all off the beaten path. I'm really looking forward to seeing whether early pips guarantee at least some bloom. I certainly have my fingers crossed!
Seeing pips this time of year is completely normal. Expanding buds too early may be a problem however you can reduce the risk by providing some sort of shade to prevent the sun from warming the top's of your peonies. A mound of mulch to the side could be all you need.
I find it interesting that you say seeing pips at this time of year is normal, since I've had peonies since 2003 and it's never happened before, viewing my old photos. March, historically, has been the earliest for me. Some are at this stage in early April.
I have no idea what mine are doing under the snow. I was only reporting on what they were doing the first of last October. A definite eye opener. I hope to gosh they aren't sprouting in the snow. I may dig one out a little just to check -- diggout meaning removing about 2' of snow from the top of one, then recovering.
Most years in January we have a couple of days of warmth where I take a cup of coffee and wander my yard. It is amazing what plants are blooming and or starting to break dormancy. I suggest to all that they take a wander and actually look. Of course seeing is different. Love the blue and lavender weeds that bloom about that time.
Ah thanks for the suggestion about the mulch. How far away from the plant do you suggest putting the mulch, and how high? The only problem is that I fear it would get blown over into the crown of the plants. We get some crazy windy days here, and I don't want the crowns buried too deeply.
I understand about wandering around the yard. It's was the first thing I did when I got back from vacation this weekend, and I was out there poking around and taking pictures yesterday, despite the cold and wind. LOL.
Edited to add, I just checked our weather report for the rest of the week, mind you we had a low of 22 today, and I don't think we got out of the 30's. Our forecast for the weekend calls for a high of 76 degrees. Further, we'll get no colder than the 50's and daytime temps in the 70's all of next week. Last year this time we had a big snowstorm in January that shut the city down for a week. Maybe the peonies aren't crazy after all (sigh).
We have NO SNOW!! Weird for this area. I can see absolutely everything. Useful when small bulbs have heaved, because I can do something about it. I usually keep a small amount of compost available for warming up so that I can slap it on anything that has heaved. That's why the peonies are so conspicuous. We will usually have a thaw to the ground in March and I'll go out and look at them, and there is nothing. As it is, they are at that stage at which the unfurling of the leaves is usually two weeks away.
We got a low of 12 last night, but it is going up to 40 tomorrow and will be close to that for the rest of the week. Cem, we are definitely dull next to you! I wouldn't have imagined 22 in Georgia!
Please ignore my earlier post about the GA weather. My DH pointed out that my weather app was still on FL, not GA. Our weather this weekend will be in the 60's/40's instead. This message was edited Jan 4, 2012 11:51 AM
When the snow departs, the only way I could look closer would be to get on my hands and knees with a magnifying glass. I turn the errant leaves or small clods just praying to find a small bit of growth on anything, in particular my peonies.
Happy Peony Season.
I did not cut the Bartzella to the ground, just let them do whatever they wanted. They bloomed great, are just about done blooming after about a month. My not cutting the budded branches did not lead to any strange shapes. It was a VERY stormy June, with several hard rains on the blooms. They are STILL STANDING UP all on their own. No support at all! My iris fell over, and several other plants were flattened. By the way, I seem unable to capture the clear yellow of Bartzella on my camera- they look washed out in photo here but are really a beautiful strong clear yellow.