Peonies and sun or lack of same

Racine, WI(Zone 5b)

I live on a wooded lot with a lot of shade. But I really, really would like to find a peony that can grow and bloom, if not flourish, with only about four hours of full sun a day. Is there such a wonder?

Fenton, MO(Zone 5b)

I had a Sarah Barnhart in those conditions, about 5 hours of sun and it did wonderful. I'd give any of them a shot if its getting light.. pre sun or after sun, I think that would be enough to keep it going. In fact, After 3pm when the sun went off the Sarah, it appreciated it in the real hot months, it actually seemed healthier in way more sun.

Lisbon, IA(Zone 5a)

Butterflywi, watch your sun patterns. There may be spots that are getting more light than you think. Areas where early morning light gets in but is gone by 1 or 2. Areas where you might get reflected light. We tend to forget that the sun is up for a good seven hours or so by noon in most areas and at all different angles while it's on the rise and then after noon during its descent the light angles are different too. I have about six or seven peony in light shade and I really don't think they get any direct light for most of the day except for very early in the day, and they seem to do ok. If anything, I have more problems with them not getting enough water... Just watch your sun patterns in the early spring. If you really want some sun, limb up some trees and create some areas where sun can get in. just my .02. ;)


Keene, NH(Zone 5a)

butterflywi- hi- just saw this post and thought I'd mention that though they aren't as spectacular as the hybrids, some of the species peonies actually need shade, esp. afternoon shade- they are beautiful in a more quiet way, but still beautiful- p. obovata, p. japonica, p.veitchii are 3 that I grow in shady spots. These are a little hard to find, but Heronswood sometimes sells them- though someone else must have them too...Some of the early herbaceous hybrids (not the lactifloras) would probably do well too, as the trees would be just beginning to leaf when they bloomed- the Saunders hybrids are all lovely- check out Hollingsworth peony for those- also, you know, tree peonies appreciate afternoon shade- the ones that I have that do the best seem to love their spot-which is quite shady by the hot afternoon.-The ones I have in the full sun are terribly wilted in the afternoon-- anyway, I am sure there are peonies you can grow!!

This message was edited Feb 22, 2006 11:58 PM

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

Just want to second sjms suggestion of the species peonies. I planted my first one last year so nothing much happening there but it is in a location where it will only get a bit of morning sun. Purchased from a wonderful local backyard nursery who grow in their yard the type of plants they sell and they have many species peonies in the shady side of their yard.

Hollingsworth is another peony supplier in the USA

Union Grove, AL

I know they are common old things but when the peony beds at my mothers were shaded out over many years Mon. julies Eile (sp) and Festiva Maxima were the last to stop blooming. when they quit it was time for a new bed, lol.

Racine, WI(Zone 5b)

Thanks for your wonderful suggestions -- I've been searching peony Web sites this morning after reading your responses, looking at gorgeous peonies -- as I watch the beginning of the "up to" six inches of snow we expect today. We know spring will eventually come to southeastern Wisconsin but for now I can only find solace in catalogs. Since I can't plant peonies till fall anyway, I'll have time to improve the soil(once the ground thaws enough to use a shovel), watch the sun and do some more research. Please keep the suggestions coming! Barbara

(Zone 5a)

I have peonies planted by the house with an overhanging roof. We don't face true East, so mine get Southeast sun till late morning. They always do as well as those in full sun.

Mystic, CT(Zone 6b)

I second Sarah Bernhardt and Festiva Maxima. I keep thinking I will have to transplant mine in a North bed with a Kousa Dogwood on one side and Redbud on the other, but they just keep blooming. Plus, FM has the most delicious scent that wafts through the yard every year!

(Zone 5a)

I think I have Festiva, white with red flecks? I dug it from a real old bed, but none of mine have a strong scent. I wonder if the amount of sun makes a difference?

Lisbon, IA(Zone 5a)

My Festiva has a wonderfully strong scent, too... :) Mine is on the north side of the house, but about 20 feet out from the house. I do think that the heat of the sun helps them be more fragrant.


Oostburg, WI(Zone 5b)

MIL planted peonies next to a new hedge, 2 ft. tall, about 20 years ago. The hedge was so huge, plants were dying beneath it the past couple of years. Lost two large peonies. Last month, DH said it was time for the hedge to go, the spruce trees next to them were showing damage from the hedge growing into them. So he lopped them off and I've got a sun bed back. The rest of the peonies will be fine now but I have to move the hostas and Lily-of-the-Valley that I planted underneath. :)

Union Grove, AL

Time of day and weather conditions make a difference in FM's scent, but there are other white with red flecks/streak out there, got some in mistake for Sarah Bernhart (sp) for a client, they stank enough that i threw them out, different flower shapes as well, more of an anomone type but almost as loose as FM

(Zone 7a)

would like to ditto all of the above who mentioned Festiva Maxima - takes so much more shade than other herbaceous peonies

South Hamilton, MA

Sarah Bernhardt often needs support as the stems can be weak. However after growing for 26 yrs. north of Milwaukee and getting afternoon sun, it was moved to CT., less sun and then to north of Boston for 30 yrs. and the dividsions are still going strong. It now has morning sun about 4 hrs and doesn't complain about the light, just wind so is supported. flowers are just as fragrant.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

I have read that Krinkled White requires a bit more shade and does not like noon sun. I'm going to try it near a wooded area where it might get four hours of sun. If that doesn't work I think I'll have a few branches above cut off. As someone else said, I'm also trying some hybrids and some Saunder's peonies in less than perfect spots. My FM that I started with blooms pretty well in about 5 hours of sun at best. I'm still a beginning gardener who likes to read. I did plant two peony gardens last fall-- a white and a mixed color peony garden, two tree peonies and two ITOH's, but I'd still say they're all an experiment. Anyway, I too am interested to learn about shade needs for particular cultivars.

(Zone 5a)

RosemaryK, your beds sound beautiful! I used to have a long line of peonies, but they were all the same three, so I gave most of them away. I miss it, but if I ever had room, I'd make a nice big bed!!

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Thanks, Billyporter. I hope to keep learning how to get the best peonies out of less than ideal conditions (here in new england it's all about amending the soil , nothing like I remember from the fertile midwest). My opportunity to plant so many occurred when a neighbor knocked down all their trees to build a monster house. So there is one side where there is sun and the other side is shade and i'm trying to push peonies as far to the shady areas as possible. We'll have a monster peony garden!

(Zone 5a)

You have to post pictures! We are all going to be peony hungry here. My little red tips won't poke thru till late April.

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