I live in Zone 6, southeast PA. Some of the peonies I planted last fall are showing growth. Some plants are showing an inch of growth and others just beginning to poke through the soil, and others showing no sign of activity. Is this normal?
Yes. That is the reason that some are considered early, mid or late.
Peonies do rise relatively early. Many species start out even before the soil thaws out. Here's my latest blog post with some pictures of how early the peonies start.
Here is a link that might be useful: Taking plants out of the tarp
Wow, Stevelau1911, your blog is really nice. It really helps to see the pictures. According to your blog, the peonies need to be covered if temps get down to 29? There is already a layer of mulch under the growth.
The only reason I am covering them up whenever there's a deep freeze is because they never got adapted to cold temperatures under the tarp which got no lower than 25F. The ones outside handled a winter low of 2F, and don't need any protection.
I also partially cover them up because they may fry under full sun after being in darkness for so long. By now they have turned a bit redder, and should be getting more and more used to outdoor conditions.
I grow peonies from seed every year so it is always fun seeing them come out. I only have a few 1st year ones emerge so far this year, but that should just be the tip of the iceburg as there should be hundreds of seeds in the ground from various sources. I just hope that some of them are viable, but I will be finding out in the next few weeks.