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211 W Smith Street
Seattle, WA, 98119
United States

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Frequently Asked Questions

I really want a specific peony, but I am having trouble finding it, or it costs too much.  Can you get it for me?

We can sure try!  We can't spend the money up front on every peony available to us, but the European and Chinese farms we import from have large varieties that we don't carry.  If you have a peony you really want but can't find in the U.S. or afford to buy elsewhere, please consider asking us about it.  We can talk to our suppliers and if we can get what you are looking for, we will write you back with a price.  Then you can decide if you want us to special order it for you.  Just contact us at info@rarepeonies.com

 

Why aren't my peonies blooming?

Peonies are really tough, so if they aren't blooming it is almost always because they are planted too deep (eyes should not be more than an inch or two deep), or they are not getting enough sun. Most experts agree 6+ hours is ideal.  If it is too shady they will produce few if any blooms.

While we send big, hardy tubers that should bloom the first year, many peony farms will tell you that newly planted peonies usually don't flower the first year.  If that is true, not to worry, they are just using their energy to develop a good root system and foliage and will bloom the next spring unless you have the above issues. 

 

What is the difference between herbaceous, itoh and tree peonies?

Tree peonies are the largest of the three types and in ideal conditions can reach up to 6 feet (4 feet is more average) although they are slow growers that will take many years.  They usually have a vase shape and have huge blossoms, mine are up to 12" wide when in full bloom. I love my tree peonies as they are interesting all year, and are such a unique form.  They bloom a few weeks before the other types. Itoh's come from cross breeding tree and herbaceous peonies and are the size and shape of a small bush.  In my personal garden, my largest itoh is 8 years old and is about 2 1/2 feet wide and 3 feet tall when in full leaf.  It has a longer blooming season than either of the other two types and has more blooms, in more varieties of color than either trees or traditional peonies.  They present like a shrub still have some woody forms in winter.  Herbaceous peonies are the kind you probably think of when you think peonies.  They bloom in May and June and usually have more blooms with each growing year.  They come in a variety of heights, but usually don't get much taller than 36 inches.  

 

Ants!?!

Old wives tales will tell you peonies won't open without ants.  While that isn't true, they like the syrup the buds produce and do not harm the peonies.  If you are going to bring them as cut flowers in the house, just put them into water to soak the ants off.  

 

Why is the foliage on my peony wilted and turning black.

Peonies are very hardy and don't usually have disease or pest issues.  But sometimes they get mold.  If that happens, remove and destroy the infected plant parts, making sure to even clean up leaves that have fallen onto the soil.  Cut back around your peonies for better air flow, and be sure not to overwater.  If your peonies are in a spot that isn't draining very well, you might have to move them.  

Also, don't forget to cut them back every October (or after the first frost) so their stems are only a couple of inches from the ground. That way your peony has the best chance of healthy new foliage in the spring.

 

Can peonies be divided or moved ?

Yes…? They can be divided, but they don't like it very much.  Once they have been divided or transplanted it can take several years before they bloom again. Unlike many other perennials, they don't really need to be divided, so you only need to do it if you want more plants.  Make sure they are large enough to divide, (several years) then dig up the clump and use a sharp tool to divide it into sections.  For healthy plants, try to keep three to five eyes on each division. Make sure they stay wet while they re-establish.   

 

My peonies are top heavy.  How do I keep them standing up straight?

You can try several things.  I've seen people tie their peonies to a fence, or use bamboo poles.  I think the best option is grow-through rings with the grids.  I put them out early in the spring and by mid-May they are barely noticeable, but they keep my flowers standing up tall.    

 

Can I grow peonies in the South?

Truthfully, probably not.  Most of the deep South and Southern Cal are just not the right climate for peonies.  Some species will grow in warmer weather, so check with a local expert to find out the particulars of your region.