Tree Peony From Seed or Cutting

pecanviewApril 15, 2007

Got bit by the tree peony bug and like every other tree peony lover I (we) want more, yes, some for my family friends as well.

When do I collect seed? Assume when the seed pod opens or should they stay in the seed pod until first frost?

And, would assume the seed needs some level of hot or cold stratification...and proper germination media?

Whats the best method for growing tree peonies from root hormone?

Tree Peony Cutting - Experiment One. Currently have placed a cutting dipped in root hormone in a one-gallon tree pot filled with moist sand, then placed a large freezer bag over the tree pot and placed it in a slightly sunny window...seems to be happy after three I on the right track?

Appreciate any help or guidance!


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collect the seed and plant when the pods open. And have patience. The first leaves generally do not appear until the second year of growth. At one time it was suggested that the seeds be held for later planting but many have found that planting immediately gives the best result. On one site someone used noir to start their seeds in and the roots erupted sooner than most.

As to the cutting. All the books say this was one of the ways to produce tp plants. However I have never found the exact instructions. For your cutting are you using fresh wood(this years growth) or woody tissue from last year? If you have access to an older plants person you could perhaps ask them for assistance. Most cuttings seem to be placed in a shaded area rather than sunlight but if your plant is doing fine don't move. One suggestion if you have not already done so trim the leaves so the cuttings energy goes into making roots rather than maintaining leaves.

Other questions I would like to know. What cultivar are you using, how long is the piece you are attempting to root.
Did you use a flat cut accross the stem or at an angle? What angle?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 9:29PM
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Contrary to nearly all tree peonies being offered , which are nearly always grafted ones, they will according to one source I read many years ago, do much better if rooted on their own, though that's a very difficult process, and hence the "normal" practice of grafting nearly all that are offered for sale. Seeds are an easier process, though I found I had no luck indoors sprouting any , and only the ones shoved here and there in the garden did come up, though truthfully I have no idea, if it was two years from planting or even after only the first winter from a fall planting. Best to keep records in that case, and the ones that came up had been forgotten completely til they did emerge. Having said that however, I did plant numerous ones last fall to see what happens, and thus far none are up, though as mentioned by some sources , they may have just produced some roots, before sending up leaves in the following year?
I'd also mention, not having started my seedlings in pots outdoors, and trying to transplant one to a cnntainer just as an experiment , I found it didn't do well from day one and died a few months later. I did find it had almost a single taproot , which was cut off in digging it for the potting up, and hence perhaps the not unexpected death of the plant?
In general I'd say it's best to have them potted from day one so they will take early trasplanting better, and they supposedly hate being transplanted, perhaps at any age!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 8:47AM
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I always let one or two pods stay on the plant, and let them fall to the ground naturally. I have found many seedlings that way that sprouted under the plants. The only one that has never given me a seedling was High Noon.I usually let then grow that way for two years before I pot them up and give them away.
I once laid a cane of Godashiu? down and layered it. Cut a small nick in the cane and bury it. I laid a rock on it so it couldn't move. It took 2 years to make very many roots, but it did live when I cut it off and potted it. It now lives in my daughter's garden in Wyo. This is all fun to do, but takes a lot of time and patience.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 9:46AM
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The reason I mentioned the "Own Rooted" thing was that some years ago reading an article in Horticulture by a peony expert, he claimed that tree peonies rooted on their own roots tend to live much much longer, than grafted ones , which can sometimes fizzle out after a few years, and I guess he'd leave them in containers for several years after planting the grafted ones, at which point when the grafted tree portions had formed their own roots, he'd remove the herbaceous rootstocks and then would replant them. Sort of made some sense to me, and since I had a "mislabled" duplicate and somewhat inexpensive one, I decided to try digging the plant after a couple of years so I could remove the rootstock and replant it on strictly it's own roots. At any rate though the plant lived, it seemed to be much less winter hardy and the top died all the way back to ground level after the first two winters and only in the fourth or later years, now has an above ground portion that survives the winters, and should get it's first branches this year. Meanwhile however, all the rest , left as I got them, with the rootstock still attached, are now big well branched three to four foot tall specimens with many flowers. Oh well, but I guess despite the very slow readjustment of the "experminental" one, only time will tell if some ten or twenty years from now, it's a healthier and superior plant to the ones that weren't altered. Sort of disappointing thus far , as far as I'm concerned, and I'm not tempted to try the process again , should I ever order more new ones! I guess perhaps I am lucky to still have a live and flowering plant though? It's quite possible of course that I didn't allow enough time and root growth on the top before removing that rootstock and hence the poor readjustment it suffered.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 9:12AM
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The cutting placed in a tree pot and sand was approximatel six inches long with one full leaf. The cut was straight across. The cutting at two weeks appears to still be green, not sure if I should check for roots, will likely wait until the cutting either turns complety brown or pushes new growth.

Had thought about layering but would prefer to grow from a cutting or seed. May attempt additional cuttings and place on the north side of the house.

Will mark a location in the many flower beds for future seed germination.

Currently have the large yellow and very dark red tree peonies.

Anyone have tree peony seedlings or seeds they could bare to part with?


    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 10:35PM
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Not at this time, but the American Peony Society does have a seed exchange as part of the membership.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 11:44PM
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Hi, I took a shoot off of a peony tree today, it was a young one, still green. I followed it down to the main root system and cut it. It has small roots growing off of itself, seperate from the main. I filled a pot with soil from that area and planted it. Do you think it will survive? The original tree peoney is over 20yrs old, if that matters. Is there anything special I should do to it?

I wanted to try to grow from a cutting, but I was told that tree peonies could only be grafted.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 1:12AM
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There are many ways to propagate tree peonies. Go to your local library and ask for them to locate for you as an inter-library loan "The Peonies" by John C. Wister. Read chapter 4 in the tree peony section for propagation methods.

With the shoot you have now since it has it's own roots you have a good chance on it living for you. You may want to consider removing the existing leaves to force the plant into rooting. Make certain you pot is deep enough to grow lots of roots. A four inch pot is probably to shallow depending on the size of your shoot.

I have not tried it but before we became to rely on nurseries for all of your plants the victorians did grafts in the spring with the green material. But then the victorians did many things that we don't do any more.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 8:36PM
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Thanks, I guess I'll head out tomorrow to cut of the leaves, it's wilting badly. I'm not too sure its gonna make it. It's in a 1 gallon pot, filled with soil from where it came from. I'm worried cause it doesnt want to stand up, like I said, it was young, with no wood on it, all green (and red).

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 10:52PM
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Even when you think it is dead keep watering. Sometimes plants look dead before they start growing. Give it until at least this fall. Just put in an out of the way place where it can get rain. It takes a graft a winter to put out roots it may take your plant a summer to become established. This autumn if it does not have leaves by then turn out of pot to see if still alive.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 11:09PM
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ok, thanks again!! I'll let you know if it survives, if I remember by fall :)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 11:27PM
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From central Oklahoma, necessity forces me to contemplate dividing and transplanting some of my Japanese (herbaceous) peonies late in May, 2008. Questions: Will transplanted peonies survive in El Dorado Hills, California (located near Sacramento)? How about at 7,000 feet in Costa Rica? At 7,000 feet the air and ground will get cold, but it'll never freeze nor frost. Please advise,thanks Leester.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 11:24PM
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haveatry2(Zone 7)

I just read this post.
Doug, the tree peony cutting you tried in the last April is still alive? I am just tring some cuttings. Any experience from you?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 2:48AM
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haveatry2(Zone 7)

After about two months waiting, I've got several tp cuttings root. Good luck to all the cuttings!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 1:04AM
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JessicaBe(5-6 Central Ohio)

Can I treat a TP cutting as I would a rose cutting?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 7:44PM
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I think tree peonies are much harder to root from cuttings than roses would. From observing first year grafted tree peonies, only the very strong ones will produce their own roots the first year, and it won't even be that much, definitely not enough to support much growth yet. I plan on trying rooting gel to stimulate rooting when my order of 42 tree peonies arrives.

I purchased 14 species from Van Bourgondien, and bought 3 of each for the quantity discount.

You could also try making your own grafts in the fall if you have plenty of tree peony branches as along with herbaceous roots.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 9:36PM
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JessicaBe(5-6 Central Ohio)

I do know that it takes longer for a TP to take root but I meant prepping it so it can root..

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 7:34AM
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