We are now taking orders for fall shipping of peony root divisions. Our peony roots are grown and divided by us in our own fields. The mix changes every year dependent on our own selections for field propagation.
Roots can be ordered NOW for shipping in September, October, and November. Planting peonies at any other time of year is not recommended.
We start shipping peony rhizomes in mid-September each year. We can usually ship through until the 3rd week of November. Orders go out on Tuesdays so as to ensure that you receive your plants before the weekend, thus minimizing the time that the roots are in transit.
It is important to prepare the planting area by digging a hole of at least 1 cubic foot per plant, and enriching the soil with organic material (preferably of the well decomposed cow manure sort). The ideal PH for peonies is 6.4 and so if necessary, please make amendments.
Peonies like full sun, well-drained soil, and a southern exposure (don't we all). They will still perform under compromised conditions. However, the better the location the better the outcome.
Peony roots have two growth spurts per year, in the spring, and in the fall. It is important that they get adequate water at these times. During the summer it is critical that they photosynthesize to their maximum potential, and so they should be kept weed free with as many leaves left intact as is possible. Peonies that are 4 years old, or more, can afford to have 50% of their stems harvested for decorative purposes. These harvested stems will make fabulous cut flowers for use in household arrangements. Always leave at least 50% of the stems for the plant to feed off and grow for next year.
Pay attention to your planting, as if planted too deep they will not flower, too shallow and they will heave in extreme cold. The colder your winter the deeper they need to be planted.
In Maryland we plant so that the eyes are 1" below the final settled soil level.
In Pennsylvania we plant so that the eyes are 1 1/2" below the final settled soil level.
In upstate New York we plant so that the eyes are 2" below the final settled soil level.
Peony plants are dependent on receiving sufficient cold degrees to vernalize successfully. That is why in the warmer climate they should be planted close to the surface to give them better exposure to the winter cold. In the colder climates they need to be planted deep enough not to heave when the ground freezes. However, not too deep so they can easily push through in the spring.
We recommend that plants should have 2 feet between one another, so as not to compete for root space. Mature plants have a wingspan of as much as 5 feet.
In choosing your varieties to plant, you should be aware that the singles, semis, and Japanese, varieties establish themselves faster than the doubles and bombs. they generally flower earlier, more prolifically, and are more durable when it comes to holding their flower in the garden. These plants tend to shed rainwater and are thus less prone to lodging. On the flip side the doubles and bombs make superior cut flowers with a huge varietal difference in aromatic fragrance.
During the summer, keep the peonies weed free, always maximizing their opportunity for photosynthesis. After blooming, cut off the spent flower prior to going to seed, thus saving energy for next season's bloom. Do not harvest the peony plant for three years.
The beautiful perfect blue-sky days of autumn make peony planting a memorable experience, we hope you enjoy it. In writing this I have almost convinced myself to go out and start digging dividing, and planting. Roll on the fall season, when everyone should be planting peonies en masse.