The Thing About Peonies

I suspect that Peonies deliberately synchronize their flowering to coincide with gardeners’ trips away from home. Given that the average Peony plant has a very fleeting period of bloom, this means that many gardeners get to see the swelling buds of their Peony plants, followed by the bare seed heads.

Peony ‘America’

Is this an evolutionary adaptation, or simply malice? We may never know.

DSC_0328At least we got one day to appreciate these two Peony ‘America’ blooms. We found them fully open this morning, but Judy and I both have to travel early tomorrow. We’re both returning by the end of the week, and I suspect all the ‘America’ blooms will have come and gone by then.

‘America’ has about a half dozen flower buds this year. Not bad considering that it’s really in too much shade.

Peony ‘Abalone Pearl’

‘Abalone Pearl’ has five buds, one of which opened today. It too gets less than an ideal amount of sunshine.

DSC_0333Peonia tenuifolia and a fourth Peony whose name I can[t remember have gone into decline. They are rather puny this year and with no buds at all. I’m ready to remove them but Judy wants to give them another season.

DSC_0342Last August I transplanted three Peony ‘Snow Swan’ to the Parkway Bed where they would get a good deal more sun. It was mild when I moved them but shortly afterwards we got some very hot weather, causing the poor ‘Snow Swans’ to faint away. Note to self: do not transplant Peonies, or most anything else, in August.

Fortunately, all three ‘Snow Swan’ Peonies reemerged this spring. The most robust of them has a single flower bud. I hope it is in flower when I return home later in the week. The others will most likely flower next year.

How have the Peonies done this year in your garden?

48 Comments on “The Thing About Peonies”

  1. I currently have only two peonies, planted in morning sun/afternoon shade. My Sarah Barnhardt is still in its leafy adolescence; it was also planted in spring, which caused it to lag behind in its growth. The other is a white peony whose name I can’t remember at the moment. I planted it several years ago, and it has held its blooms for the past couple of weeks, but they are fading now. Fortunately, I work from home and was able to enjoy them every day. I wasn’t enjoying this constant rain, though. 😀

      • I double-checked my garden photos, and my white peony was indeed blooming on 5/11; the blooms finally wilted over the weekend after a pretty hard rainstorm. We’ve had an unusually cool spring, and they receive only morning sun, so perhaps those conditions together played a part in preserving their blooms – or it could just be my particular variety of peony. I wish I could remember its name! Haha!

        I seem to have good luck with some plants and misfortune with others. My front garden is 70% in shade by noon, so the shade-loving plants run riot; I have an army of bleeding heart monsters marching across the lawn right now, devouring every poor plant in their path. Dividing them just increases their numbers and hastens their victory.

      • I found the name of my peony! I dug through my plant ID tags, which I keep forever in my pack-rat drawer, and it’s a Festiva Maxima peony. 🙂

        Although I believe it’s official bloom-time is roughly one week, on Dave’s Garden website, one poster from Vermont commented that it bloomed “for about 3 weeks”. Wow! I guess we get too much rain for the flowers to survive that long here. It does grow top heavy as it blooms, so I use a hoop to keep it from flopping over onto the ground. 🙂

  2. I’m afraid I part ways with you on peonies. I adore them and love the doubles. My inherited beauties are in full sun. Perhaps that is why they bloom profusely and gloriously. And the foliage is lovely, too. I love when their reddish hand-like shoots emerge in the spring. And after the blooms have passed, the plants continue to hold their own, all jaggedy edges in a lush, healthy rounded plant.

  3. Generally speaking, we’re pretty limited in Texas as far as peonies are concerned. There are only 2 or 3 that will grow here. I’ve not tried them, but maybe I should. I especially like the looks of your ‘Abalone Pearl’

  4. I’ll watch for your Snow Swan to bloom during my walks with Pepper, & will take a snapshot if I have my phone with me. My own unnamed peony came with me when I moved here. It seems this year will be its best, as it is blooming profusely but fully two weeks earlier than in past years.

  5. I have five peonies, four that are herbaceous and one that is an intersectional. None are flowering yet, but they all have plenty of buds. I wonder why some of yours have declined. Have they gotten buried in too much soil perhaps? Herbaceous peonies bloom best if they are just barely covered with soil, and in full sun.

  6. Or….when rain is imminent, I have 3 early peonies that are generally knocked by rain or winds every year. But they are fleetingly beautiful. My later ones are a few weeks behind yours with more buds this year than ever, so looking forward to a good show. Sue

  7. I have lots of buds this year. I have four established plants and two new additions this year. I think the mild winter really helped. Love that I am retired and can actually enjoy the garden. I hate to travel in summer and miss the blooms – plus you come home to lots of yard work.

  8. I have too many peony plants to count and in various beds and all in at least a half day of sun. Except for the ones I divided and moved last year, they are all loaded with buds right now. I staked them all as well because we’ve had a lot of rain. I went to a presentation on tree peonies a few weeks back, and a person asked about peonies falling to the ground. He responded that if they were well fertilized they would be stronger and there wouldn’t be a need for stakes. I will be gone for a week in June, and I surely hope I don’t miss the entire parade of blossoms and fragrance.

  9. I only have one peony it is a tree peony. It didn’t even bloom this year because I have moved it the last two years. I have since been told they don’t like to be moved. I believe it but it was sitting in too much shade so I had to move it…didn’t I? If I had as many peonies as you have I would whine about not being able to see them too. They are so pretty.

  10. I haven’t been traveling, but May has been such a busy month that I’ve missed seeing some blooms, too. A friend and I were commenting the other day that our white peonies weren’t as pretty as usual. The blooms are smaller and fade to brown too quickly. On the other hand, my ‘Scarlett O’Hara,’ which looks similar to your ‘American’ has done very well this year.

  11. Gorgeous! Ha, I’m convinced that my peonies time their flowering right before a big rainstorm, where all their petals will be blown to smithereens. I have a little tree peony that was loaded with blooms this year for about a day and a half before the rain got them. I have another peony that I just got from a friend last year that I am eagerly waiting to see bloom. Probably right before the next big rain storm…

  12. I third the part about the rain – never fails. I purchased an old Victory Garden book (it’s almost 30 years old, if you can believe it!) at a library discard sale and am just reading about a self-taught chap that bred peonies. Whenever I read about a particular plant, it always gives me the urge to run out and purchase a car load…but then I’d have to figure out where to put them and that’s usually when reason kicks in 🙂

  13. Oh, I do hope they hang on a bit for your return! I just checked on mine… the first two flowers of the white scented Festiva maxima have opened. I divided these into five clumps when I was given them many years ago, and they have all got dozens of buds. They obviously like my sun-baked rockery!

  14. I planted two peonies last year, my first endeavor with peonies, but always a favorite memory from childhood. Each peony plant already had a couple of buds when I planted them, and they were so pretty. Instant gratification; I love it! This year they returned, but no buds. I hope they just need another year to settle in and mature!

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