Peony Problems

immatater(5)January 2, 2008

I love peonies but they don't like me. I've planted them a few different times (from bulb/root) but they never come up. I made sure to follow the planting directions as far as depth, time of year and sun go. Is this a common problem am I just doing something wrong?

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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

You must be doing something wrong. Peonies are among the easiest of plants to grow. They take time and proper planting depth to bloom, but growing them should not be a problem. Al

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 10:28AM
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peonyman(Zone 5, Lawrence, Ks)


I really am sorry about your bad experience with peonies in the past.

I have to agree with Al. I am not sure you can plant a peony wrong enough that it does not come up at all. The first peonies I planted some 19 years ago were given to me by a relative. I knew nothing about what I was doing. I planted the roots 8 inches deep. Even those peonies grew fine, however they did not bloom.

I am wondering if the roots you are getting are alive when you receive them. I do see a lot of peonies for sale at Walmart and other places which have not sold that are still on the store shelves long after the end of planting season even though they have been dried out to a shriveled stick with no way of surviving. I wonder if you are planting roots that were not alive when you bought them.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 6:18PM
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Inmatater, I agree peonies are one of the easiest to have come up with proper planting so I'd like to hear from you about exactly what planting instructions you received, especially about the depth, time of year and sun you mention.

Something is definitely wrong in Denmark when continued bad luck with this plant results in failure.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 8:05PM
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These last peonies were from Sam's club... actually, LOL! I followed the directions on the back of the box. I don't have them any longer and it was last spring when I planted them so I don't recall what they were. Perhaps I need to purchase some from another source and I'll have better luck!

Thank you!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 1:47AM
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amulet(7b NC)


I have also purchased peonies from Sam's. All four that were in the same box are all doing very nicely now, but the first year only one of them came up.

So I think the problems you are experiencing are due to the source and the time of year the peonies were planted. The ideal time to plant peonies is in the fall.

Most nurseries that specialize in peonies ship their peonies in the fall (unless they are in the other hemisphere, in which case they would ship them in the spring). Getting peonies directly from a nursery will definitely be more expensive than buying 4 roots in a box for ~$15 from Sam's, but you will definitely get much better quality from a specialized grower (not to mention a much fresher root in most cases).

I would give those Sam's roots another year to determine whether they are alive. If you want to get a peony that will perform better for you, there are several reputable peony nurseries that have been mentioned on this forum before... Song Sparrow, Hollingsworth, Adelman are some of the most mentioned. I have ordered from all of these, and they are all excellent. Gilbert H Wild sells much more inexpensive roots, but they are not as fresh and are smaller. However you will most likely get a plant that is true to name. I'm sure other forum members can also recomment good sources.

Here is a link to the previous post I made about my experience with the peony roots from Sam's...

Here is a link that might be useful: Peony Roots from Sam's

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 10:11AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I buy a box of peony roots from Costco whenever I notice one I don't have already. They are certainly minimum and so is the price. I always pot them up in one gallon nursery pots the first season and into the garden the next year. I may lose one the first year once in a while but still a bargain. Al

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 1:54PM
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Start watching your stores like Walmart, Home Depot etc. about early to mid February they start putting out the new peonies for the year. Check for larger roots but also be aware that some of the better varieties do have small roots. Look at the eyes if pink or white fresh buds are showing chose the one that looks the best.

If it is like last year you may see some uncommon peonies at Walmart. They had a couple of Russian and one really old timer 1890's.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 5:59PM
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I bought 5 bareroot Sarah Bernhardts from Costco for like $12...the first year 3 came up, year 2 all 5, foliage only. Year 3 all bloomed. It takes a while for immature bareroots. But you wind up with 5 plants for less than the price of 1 nursery plant if you have the time and patience. If you are in zone 8, don't plant deep, the eyes should be right below the surface and don't heavily mulch in winter, they need the cold.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 12:58AM
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Thank you for all of your help. The original ones that I posted about (that didn't come up) are just now popping up! LOL! I wonder if I planted them too deep. If I did and they don't bloom after a year or two, can I dig them up and replant them? Will that fix the "too deep" problem or would they be non-bloomers for life?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 5:19PM
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Wait to do anything until this fall. Some peonies especially the so called late bloomers, mostly doubles, come up later than the others.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 9:25PM
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Have had good luck with Paul H. Wild. Peonies should be planted in the fall. The following year most of Wild's bloomed. A friend purchased hers from Wild and they were unbelievably large plants. The two she put out by the street are huge specimens now. Everybody walking by stops to admire them. As I recall, they bloomed heavily the second year.

I purchased my tree peonies from van Bourgondeins years ago. They were only about 4 to 6 inches high. So glad I did because they are much more expensive to purchase now -- not to mention that they have grown into very large plants at this point. My lesson learned: If you can afford to purchase something you're thinking about getting now, do it. It can be in the ground growing while you're thinking about it and the price is going up! Have posted this on other threads, but here are some of them as they appear today (although these were taken in 2004, they look the same, only larger).

Here is a link that might be useful: Tree Peonies

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 11:00PM
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I got about 5 of mine from Sams this fall and planted them. None of mine came up. I got so dissappointed. When I saw all of my neighbor's plants coming up and are ready to bloom, I thought mine are a failure. I actually saw them in many places here in Bloomington while I am driving. Today I went to Kroger and saw peonies plants and bought one just incase. I am still not sure why, not even one of my roots showed any growth. I will be happy if atleast 1 or 2 come up.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 9:39PM
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That is exactly what happened to me! I had gotten them from sams as well. It was not until the following year that they started coming up. (See my original post that started this topic). Don't give up on them!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 1:45AM
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For those who just can't get peonies to grow or bloom, there is a great alternative. Try some roses which look identical to peony flowers. Pink cabbage rose is one of such rose you can try and it will bloom much longer than a peony and will not need staking. In addition, it is not fussy about planting depth. This is only when you just can't get peonies don't come running after me with pitch forks :-)

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 7:51AM
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