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We have lived in Arlington, Texas, since 1971 and have tried to grow peonies here almost that long, since I'm from Kansas and my wife from Brooklyn.
The main problem is the warm winters, and in our garden too much shade. We have managed to get a few blooms from a Karl Rosenfeld and from a Festiva Maxima. Nothing else even survives. Festiva Maxima is by far the best adapted variety for this area. In properly planted, sunny beds, Festiva Maxima can, and will, thrive here and develop into enormous, bloom-covered plants. I've seen them, in old gardens, looking as good as any up north.
I live in Lewisville - My peonies are flourishing. I never saw so many blooms. Just moved here and never had them before. So no special winter over treatment from me. They have taken a beating however from rain last 2-3 days. They are so heavy with bloom the are laying on the ground. I guess I just need to cut them and bring in the house. Gorgeous.
Ival, I don't think temperatures are the issue here; most likely it is poorly draining soil or as you mentioned perhaps the beds are too shady. I have many peonies and mine have done really well. I am from Illinois originally and have found that with good site preparation and an exposure that avoids the hottest western sun, they will thrive. Also, try the single varieties and eary or mid-bloomers that open up earlier - you'll find they do very well here. Also, plant very shallowly - eyes right at the surface, not the 2" recommended for northern sites, and no mulch around the crown.
Thanks for this article! I planted some seeds early in April and noticed something coming up in my patio container just this week. I had forgotten what I planted till I saw your pic today of the peony seedlings. Thanks for reminding me! I got the seeds in a trade so dont know what they will look like but think I will put some support over them now before they get too big. I have never grown these before so wish me luck!
Just looked at them again and I think these were not from seed but a bare root I bought early in the year. Do you think I can transplant them to a very sunnny area? My place has a choice of heavy shade or very sunny. Nothing really in between.
Joyce - I tried peonies in a container once - no go. And yes, they would have come from a (?) rhizome or one of those non-seed type thingies! Hes, they like sun and organic matter, are heavy feeders (just telling you what I was told).
Joyce move it into the sunny area please - it will not do well in heavy shade - should have at least 6 hrs a day. It is unlikely you will see anything from your seed this year - I think it takes at least a couple of years if not longer to grow from seed.