Hoss, the easiest way to grow peonies is to get a peice of the root with a couple of eyes on it. Seed can take 2 years to germinate and then another 2 or 3 years to grow to blooming size. As far as I know, you really can't root cuttings of peony. But someone may have other information regarding that.
Herbaceous peonies do not come true from seed and starting from seed is usually not recommended. They also do not grow from cuttings. What is left is propagating from divisions, which is the method used commercially and suggested by Ticker. Al
I am not talking from experience, but the book that I have says that herbaceous peonies can be propagated from root cuttings as well. The basic process is that you cut off a root section, divide the root up into a number of segments and bury the sections in a moist potting medium. This is probably the fasted way to get a lot of peonies from one plant, but I think the book said to expect at least 3 or 4 years to get a plant big enough to bloom. I would think division is the easiest and most practical method for the home gardener. I am pretty sure the tree peonies can be propagated via stem cuttings, but not herbaceous peonies.
I wonder if commercial growers propagate Peonies from tissue cultures, root cutting, or division? I guess there is a reason that peonies cost $25 even at the big boxes.
I have been staying low on the subject of stem cuttings from a tree peonie, I have been wondering about that for a while. One place where I mow lawn, has one that is about 16 years old, and has one stem/or branch that grows out sideways. I have often thought about trying to trim that and see if it would work. I could have a cutting, as long as there is no harm to the plant. I haven,t found any other info on the subject. I think nurseries want to keep it a secret to keep the price up.
I did see that you can prune a peonie tree, if the branch looks dead and that new shoots will come up from below the ground. Was wondering when the best time to do this.
It can really vary. I've had roots take a couple years before I see a bloom, but then I've also had one bloom in the pot inside the house, (when I bought the root in EARLY spring and planted it in a pot to get it going). I planted some peonies last fall, 2 are blooming sparingly, the others aren't.
The easiest way to get more herbaceous peonies from an established herbaceous peony is to dig a chunk of the plant's root and make sure it has several eyes and plant that. I do not know of anyone taking a stem cutting of a herbaceous peony and getting it to grow roots. I would be interested in knowing how someone could do that. :)
Regarding tree peony. Most tree peony you buy in nursery's, etc. have the tree peony grafted onto herbaceous peony root stock. This is so they can propagate tree peony faster and less expensively than growing it directly from tree peony root stock. If your tree peonies woody part dies off and you start getting growth from the ground around it that is most likely the herbaceous root nurse stock that the original tree peony was grafted onto and the peony will revert back to a herbaceous peony. When planting tree peonies it is recommended that you plant the graft union (where tree peony is grafted on to nurse root) a good 10 to 12 inched below the soil line so that the nurse root will not send out shoots, but will in fact, help the tree peony establish it's own root system and then the nurse root will die off and the tree peonies own root will take over and sustain the plant. This is just contrary to what you do when you plant a herbaceous peony.
When you get into specialized species peony things change (like Lutea, etc), but for most Chinese tree peony, Japanese tree peony, herbaceous and lactiflora peony the above statement mostly holds true. I grow herbaceous, lactiflora and tree peony and I have the fern leaf peony. I do not have any of the specialized specie peony, as of yet. :)
Here's a bloom from the rootstock of a tree peony. The color doesn't come through in the picture. The lighter color is medium pink and the darker is (or was, the bloom is just about gone) an intense purple-magenta.
I'm going to have to take a picture of my tree peonies with their babies right by their sides- I didn't really mean to do it, but one of the new shoots popped off from the base on one as I was spring cleaning, and so, deperate to do something, I stuck it in the ground- as far as I can tell, it's growing real strong...sooooo...I went and did the same thing to my favorite purple tp, and that one seems to have rooted itself too. I'm no expert, but it seemed to work...
Oh my, I don't know of a way to "safely" take cuttings of tree peonies. But, maybe someone else does. You might want to talk to someone that raises tree peonies for a living and ask them. Me, if I wanted a new tree peony, I'd just buy one. It's easier.
If you find out how to "safely" divide a tree peony, let me know. :)
megalli: It would not really matter if the tree peony was grafted, because the cutting that you will take will be well above the graft point. Here is a link that talks about the basics of propagation by stem cutting: