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Heirloom Peonies

From America’s Expert Source for Heirloom Flower Bulbs
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Order these fall-planted bulbs NOW for delivery next OCTOBER.


‘Rubra Plena’

WHY GROW PEONIES? They’re old-fashioned, easy to grow, offer armloads of flowers, and can live a century or more.

PEONY HISTORY — As Alice Coats wrote, “The long roots of the peony strike deep into the past.” Learn more.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS — Give them full sun and a little patience as they settle in and peonies will reward you for decades. Learn more.


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PEONY PARADISEWeb-Only & Sampler

For a lifetime of luxurious beauty, plant our easy heirloom peonies this fall. We’ll send you 3 of our favorite old-fashioned doubles – 1 pink, 1 white, and 1 rose-red, all labeled and superb. Give them a sunny spot and they’ll reward you with abundant blooms for a century or more – and they make great cut flowers! For zones 3a-7b(8bWC) only, please. Peony care.

For 2, 3, or more of each variety, order additional samplers.

COF-90
1/$50
2/$96
3/$137
4/$176
5/$215

DUCHESSE DE NEMOURS, 1851It’s Back!

Grown and painted by Monet, this deliciously fragrant peony has been a favorite for over 150 years. Its abundant flowers open as “creamy chalices” (Harding, 1917) lit by a golden glow and mature into perfect white cumulus clouds. RHS AGM, strong stems, 3-5 eye roots, 34-38”, mid-season, zones 3a-7b(8bWC), from Iowa. Chart and care.

PE-11
1/$19
2/$36.50
3/$52
5/$82
10/$152
25/$342

EDULIS SUPERBA, 1824It’s Back!

This richly fragrant, deep pink relic is one of the oldest peonies of all, and yet, writes expert Martin Page, it’s “still one of the best.” Introduced in France soon after the first lactiflora peonies arrived from China, it has been cherished ever since (even in the South) for its “good form, strong color, and delightful fragrance” (Boyd, 1928). 36-38”, early-mid, zones 3a-8a(9aWC), 3-5 eyes, from Iowa. Chart and care.

PE-07
1/$18.50
2/$35.50
3/$50.50
5/$79.50
10/$148
25/$333

P. tenuifolia ‘Rubra Plena’, FERN-LEAF PEONY, 1765Web-Only & It’s Back!

This exquisite jewel, brought into gardens from the wilds of Ukraine, holds its small, bright red flowers above mounds of finely cut foliage. Less than two feet tall and blooming weeks before most peonies, it was listed by Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon in 1806, carried west by the pioneers, and blooms today in abandoned cemeteries throughout the Great Plains. Requires well-drained soil and full sun, 14-22”, zones 3a-7a(8aWC), 3-5 eyes, from Manitoba. Chart, care, and learn more.

PE-29
1/$45
2/$86.50
3/$123
Limit 3, please.

LADY ALEXANDRA DUFF, 1902New

Like an apple orchard in full bloom, this fabulous old peony combines pink buds and outer petals with mostly white inner petals for an exuberant and ineffably beautiful display. Its multiple side buds make each stem a complete bouquet and the bloom season last and last. It’s fragrant, too, and one of Scott’s all-time favorites. 36”, semi-double, mid-late, zones 3a-7b(8bWC), 3-5 eyes, from Oregon. Chart and care.

PE-47
1/$19
2/$36.50
3/$52
5/$82
10/$152
25/$342

MRS. FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, 1932It’s Back!

The rich fragrance and rose-like form of this APS Gold Medal winner make it distinct in the garden and terrific in bouquets. Opening “like a blush-pink waterlily” (Martin Page), it matures into a graceful, cupped flower of pale, silvery pink. Free-flowering, vigorous, 3-5 eye roots, 30-34”, mid-season, zones 3a-7b(8bWC), from Iowa. Chart and care.

PE-21
1/$25
2/$48
3/$68.50
5/$108
10/$200
25/$450

Paeonia officinalis RUBRA PLENA, 1568It’s Back!

Celebrated for its herbal powers by the Greeks and Romans, Paeonia officinalis was grown in colonial gardens long before the P. lactiflora ancestors of most of today’s peonies arrived here from China in the early 1800s. Its early bloom-time – two weeks ahead of standard peonies – and vibrant color made it the classic Memorial Day “piney” of Civil War graveyards. 28-32”, early, zones 3a-7b(8bWC), 3-5 eyes, from Holland. Chart, care, and learn more.

PE-04
1/$18.50
2/$35.50
3/$50.50
5/$79.50
10/$148
25/$333

VICTOIRE DE LA MARNE, 1915New

Still a favorite of European florists – and hardy enough to be grown for cut-flowers by Boreal Peonies in zone-2a Alaska – this deep, purplish-red peony has a romantically loose form that’s often brightened by golden anthers. It was introduced by Auguste Dessert shortly after the Allied victory which saved Paris – and his nursery – from the German invasion. 32-34”, mid, zones 2a-7b(8bWC), 3-5 eyes, from Oregon. Chart.

PE-48
1/$19.50
2/$37.50
3/$53.50
5/$84
10/$156
25/$351

PEONY HISTORY – “The long roots of the peony strike deep into the past,” Alice Coats writes in Flowers and Their Histories. The Roman Pliny called them the oldest of plants, and they’ve been grown in Asian gardens for thousands of years.

The first peonies brought to America by the colonists were forms of Paeonia officinalis, a European peony with herbal uses that’s often called the “Memorial Day piney.” Chinese forms of P. lactiflora arrived in the early 1800s, causing a hubbub, and before long many new varieties were being introduced by French and then British breeders. Enthusiasm peaked in the early 20th-century when peonies were enormously popular for both garden and cut-flower use. American breeders came to the fore then, and millions of blossoms cut in the “soft marshmallow” stage were shipped to florists across the country.

PEONY ARCHIVES — For customer tips and raves, the stories behind the flowers, links and books, history, news, and more, see our Peony Newsletter Archives.

PEONIES AS CUT FLOWERS — For tips for enjoying longer lasting bouquets without damaging your plants, see our Bulbs as Cut Flowers page.

PEONY PLANTING AND CARE — Peonies are tough, undemanding perennials that can bloom happily for a century or more with little care.

Plant in early fall. Do not delay! Since peonies are planted only 1-2 inches deep, the soil around them will freeze much earlier than it will for bulbs planted 6 inches deep. If they don’t have enough time to establish new feeder roots before the ground freezes, they will struggle and could fail altogether.

Choose a sunny to lightly shaded spot with good air circulation and plenty of room for them to grow. Because they like ample water, they do best in somewhat heavier (clay) soils and away from the roots of trees and shrubs.

Peony roots and eyes (buds) are brittle, so plant carefully. Dig a generous hole and position the rootstock so the eyes face up and are no more than 1-2 inches below the surface of the soil once it’s been filled in and firmed. Shallow is best; deep planting leads to poor or no bloom. Mark the spot with a stake or peony ring to protect it. Water deeply, and maintain even soil moisture until the ground freezes to help the plant develop as many feeder roots as possible its first fall.

To protect these delicate new roots the first winter, apply a winter mulch. After the ground freezes, mound the newly planted area with 2-4 inches of soil or 5-8 inches of a fluffy, non-matting mulch such as straw, cornstalks, peat moss, or evergreen boughs — but not leaves.

In spring, be sure to remove the mulch before top-growth begins, and be careful not to injure new sprouts. Different varieties will emerge at different times, so patience is advised. Scratch a couple of tablespoons of balanced fertilizer (10-10-10 is ideal) into the soil around the plant, outside the ring of stems, as its leaves begin to unfurl. Water throughout spring and till after bloom-time, especially the first year.

Bloom will be meager the first year as the plant pours most of its energy into establishing a strong root system. More blooms will follow the second year, and even more the third. As you cut blooms, leave as much foliage as possible to continue feeding the plant.

Staking – Even the strongest peony stems will bow when their gloriously double flowers are drenched by rain. Most of the time, though, they’ll stand back up if you gently shake the water out immediately afterwards, so most gardeners grow their peonies au naturel. We like to give them more support, though. See our Supporting Peonies page for two options: cheap and easy and the Hildene star.

In the fall when the leaves begin to turn brown, cut the stems to the ground, collect all the foliage, and throw it away instead of composting it. Though peonies are generally healthy and tough, this will help prevent diseases such as botrytis blight and leaf blotch from getting a toehold or carrying over to the next season.

After the first spring, fertilize only sparingly. Peonies generally need little fertilizer and plants that are over-fertilized will not bloom well. If you do fertilize, keep it away from the crown of the plant where there are no feeder roots. Spread it instead 6-18 inches from the crown, work it into the soil, and water well.


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