Tree Peony from Seed

Southern, WI(Zone 5a)

A small celebration here. After starting these in November of '08, I have my first true leaves. I know they have a ways to go, but coming even this far made my day. Thought I would share. I have 6 of them I think, maybe 7. It was from an open pollinated large double pink tree peony, likely with pollen from a neighboring lilac/pink colored double peony.

Thumbnail by magnolialover
Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

Very interesting. Peonies are supposedly difficult to propagate from seeds. I have read
where it sometimes requires two years just for the seeds to germinate. Could you give
a little seminar on how you accomplished the magic so quickly? Probably a lot of inquiring
minds would like to know.

Southern, WI(Zone 5a)

I used David Sims instructions on his tree peony website. Seeds were placed in a plastic baggie with a soiless mix. The way I achieved the 80-90 degree temps was placing near our pellet stove in combination with placing it for a portion of time on top of the water heater. I think achieving that targeted temperature is the toughest part. I was pretty sure I was getting it, based on my temperature readings, but until I placed it in a cooler area in my basement to root, I wasn't sure.....until I saw the roots ;)

When I read the instructions I had little hope. My seeds were free from my own tree peony, so what did I have to lose, right? I didn't put a whole lot of stock in it, to be very honest. Just thought it would be a neat winter project.

In May I brought what I had in the fridge to Roy Klehm at Songsparrow and it also happened to be that William Seidl was also there. They instructed me to wait until I saw a leaf while in the fridge, then to pull it out to pot up. I also inquired with Don Hollingsworth who also said that a gradually warm for the leaf would best mock nature. So from the fridge to the cool basement they went and are currently residing.

So....will they mount to anything? Time will tell. I'm just very excited to have gotten them to this point.

Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

Sounds like a labor of love. I would like to try the same with my fern leafs if they can produce
fertile seeds. Some do and some don't. Did the experts give you any idea of what will be the
end result as far as whether it will be a tree or a standard peony?

Great info on handling the seeds. Thanks for passing it along.

Southern, WI(Zone 5a)

It definitely has tree peony leaves and a cross with two tree peonies should render a tree peony. When the experts looked at what I had, they too called it a tree peony. So tree peony it is.

Thanks for sharing in the excitement ^_^

Lisbon, IA(Zone 5a)

Oh Mags, I totally missed this thread. You are clever girl! :) I can't wait to see how your babies grow!! :) Congratulations!!

Southern, WI(Zone 5a)

Thanks Ticker. Now I just wait and see.

Ripon, WI(Zone 4a)

Wow, I just found this thread too - congratulations! Now those will be some treasured plants! Can't wait to follow your progress.

(Warren)Lisbon Falls, ME(Zone 5a)

Nice Job...Can't wait to see how they do and what color they bloom as.

Kansas City, MO

Some suggest that starting seeds at this time of year rather than waiting until winter will help with germination. Since at this time all of mine are open pollinated I follow a friends suggestion and plant near the base of the parent plant. I have problems with friendly wildlife playing with planted seed pots so we will see how this works.

Southern, WI(Zone 5a)

The seeds I started did not ripen until late fall, as they were my own.

Good luck with your seed, however you try to germinate them.

Louisville, KY

I started two tree peonies from seeds a couple of years ago. I just stuck them in my cold frame which I usually start cuttings in. They took two winters and came up last spring. I have to transplant them next spring as they are swqmped by rose cuttings which I took after I forgot about the tree peony seeds. Picures will follow. Its rainingin g and dark right now.

Louisville, KY

The two tree peony seedlings

Thumbnail by timeinabottle
Greenbush, MI(Zone 4b)


First, congratulations on getting the Peony seeds started. Next---my big story: My friend has a beautiful Peony tree she bought off a reduced table. I would have got it, but she beat me there! LOL This tree is about 5-6 years old and beautiful and this is the first year she has noticed pods on it. I got about 25 pods from her and now I need to know what to do. I did copy the websites you recommended and they are very helpful, but I'd like an answer from you since you bred them.

They are still very hard pods and show no sign of opening soon. Should I just try and be patient with them ? HELP ME!

Carol M.

Southern, WI(Zone 5a)

The seed pods are very, very hard. And they will be. This is normal. Over the very long process, it will change. Just remember, patience is needed, great patience.

Good Luck!

Greenbush, MI(Zone 4b)

Thanks so much! I certainly will let you know if anything comes from this new adventure for me!


Greenwood, IN(Zone 5b)

Congrats Tracey!! That is so awesome. Will be interesting to follow these plants' lives and see how long it takes them to grow till they can bloom.

Southern, WI(Zone 5a)

My personal debate is when to plant them outside. I think I will this fall and may the strongest survive. I think they should do okay. If not, I can just say still, that I made it this far right?

Easton, PA(Zone 6b)

Newbie Question - how do you tell when the seeds are "ripe" ? Mine are currently green. I assume that they dry. Do the pods eventually pop open?

Southern, WI(Zone 5a)

I usually collect the seed in the fall, like late September or October. The pod actually splits open on its own and the seeds are brown and firm.

I'd be happy to send you some seeds this fall to try if you like. I have bumper crop germination on this double lilac x double pink. It's great fun! I won't promise that you won't be addicted though. ^_^

Easton, PA(Zone 6b)

I would love to try some seeds if you have a bumper crop.

cut the stalks and put the stalks with the pods upside down in a brown paper bag. It is a new yellow tree peony, so I wanted it to concentrate its energy on root development. I hope that the seeds ripen while it is still warm outside so that I can start them outside. I put a thermometer on top of the water heater to check the temp....hadn't thought of starting seeds there.

I love starting things from seed and just discovered winter sowing this year.

Southern, WI(Zone 5a)

Sometimes tree peonies are fertile (produce good seed) and sometimes they don't (and are sterile). I would guess that if you cut the stalk already they may not develop properly if it is one that produces seed. It's very, very early in the season. I have tested pods on tree peony pod in August and they aren't ready yet many times.

Yes, starting from seed is rewarding indeed.

Kansas City, MO

Doubt is there are any seeds if cut. Next time try to wait until the seed pod starts to split on it's own. Some plants will have seed, some will not. Part depends on the plant but a lot depends on any pollinator's that visit your plants. If you use insecticides to cut down on bugs you may not have any seeds other than self pollinated ones.

Easton, PA(Zone 6b)

Oops, looks like I cut the pod too early. I'll wait a while and see what happens, anyway. My first priority was getting the plant off to a good start in the garden. I usually cut back blooms, especially ones going to seed, on any new perennial. The pods are green, but a couple are turning brown, they feel firm.

The plant was pollinated (or not) at the nursery. It already had the pods when I brought it home.

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