What is your favorite peony and why? Is there also a great place to get inexpensive and quality peonies? Thanks
Try your regional peony society. Many have fall sales where you can purchase at reasonable prices plus meet others with similar interests. The APS bulletin listed the Midwest Society as having a early sale I think in August. Sorry I think I took it to work. Minnesota has a sale about the same time as the Heartland sale which is the first Saturday in October. I see your favorite forum is Wisconsin so depending on which part of Wisconsin you are in a day trip for you combined with a educational trip for the rest of your family could be in your future.
Maybe someone with the Bulletin or on the mailing list of both groups will put the dates of their sales on the forum for you and anyone in the areas.
I can't resist this question although everyone here is probably tired of hearing that my favorite peony is festiva maxima. In the 20 years I have grown it, I have moved it from place to place and it has never disappointed me. It can be grown in a wide range of climates and conditions. It is incredibly beautiful and it smells wonderful.
The best thing is that because it is as tough as nails and easy to divide and has been widely popular for more than 150 years, the huge supply makes it reasonably priced.
rian, are the stems of Festiva Maxima strong enough for the flowers or do they need staking?
I try to support all my doubles eb, because about the time they bloom it gets warm enough here that we begin to get pounding thunderstorms that will soak the big blossoms and bow them low.
If I haven't got around to staking them, I try to cut the first flowers just as they begin to open and either bring them into the house or give them away. The stalks are usually able to support the smaller side flowers if there aren't too many of them open at once.
Are there any big doubles strong enough to stand up to heavy rain?
My favorite (and only right now) is a 'Karl Rosenfield" peony. I wanted to take a pic for you but we are having a summer shower and will take a pic and post it tomorrow...beautiful very dark pink double-petaled blooms.
That is a hard question! I'll assume you're asking about herbaceous peonies...so my choice would be Red Charm. The plant is of quite imposing size, as are the flowers, the petals of which are piled up into a big mound. The red is an unbelievable tone. Some prefer the red of Alexander Wollcott, but I'm very partial to the smooth, velvety color of Red Charm. No problem with the stems being able to hold the large flowers. Being a hybrid, the leaves are not quite as coarse as you see on other peonies. The plant is in every way distinctive and regal. I grow a number of peonies, but Red Charm does not disappoint.
Where to buy plants? That depends on what peonies you want. I like adpeonies.com in WA or reathsnursery.com in MI. But if you are not looking for collector-type plants, you can get very cheap peonies from gilberthwild.com that will give you great pleasure.
Oh geez! My favorite peony is: ALL of them! I have Festiva Maxima, Coral Charm, Do Tell, The Fawn, the tree peonies Hana Kisoi and Kao, Paeonia veitchii and two of Klehm's "Rock Garden Peonies" (I can't recall the names off the top of my head) which have bloomed. I also have a double red, a pink Japanese style, Sarah Bernhardt, the tree peony Shimatanishiki(?--the red and white striped one) and Paeonia mlokosewitschii still too small to bloom.
I want to get a Paeonia rockii and/or an Itoh peony this year--good prices in town at one of the nurseries. And of course I want a Paeonia tenuifolia or a P. tenuifolia hybrid, and a Paeonia brownii, but those will just have to wait. I also want all of Klehm's offerings, but I don't have room for them, what with all the OTHER perennials and shrubs I want, too.
Ebster, I want to answer your question about 'Festiva Maxima':
THEY NEED STAKING!!!
If I don't stake every single stalk, they will flop, unless there is NO rain and NO wind during the week they're in bloom...and there always is!
Dont get me wrong: it's true that 'FM' is beautiful, smells heavenly, and is a gorgeous cut flower, but it is a major flopper.
In retrospect I would've planted differently had I known: more singles and Japanese types, and fewer doubles. I'd have saved the doubles for smaller spaces where I can stake more easily, or where there are other plants for support.
One last thing: 'FM' is tall -- shorter doubles flop a bit less, for example my 'Lady Alexandra Duff' does not flop as much as 'FM.'
"fewer doubles" sigh... I can't seem to get over the idea that the 'real peonies' are the doubles and singles are just some exotic variation, like a pink dogwood.
I know that is exactly backward!!!! But where I grew up ALL the peonies were full of petals and smelled like heaven. I've come to appreciate other flower forms but I still think that a lack of fragrance is a serious flaw.
I know what you mean, and yes, lack of fragrance in a penoy IS a big flaw. That's why I advocate growing a number of varieties! Some of the Japanese types (such as 'Bowl of Beauty') have a nice fragrance, and even approximate the many-petaled look, but don't flop nearly so much.
I guess I'll have to pay more attention to the FQ (flop quotient) I hadn't noticed any difference in the floppiness of any of my doubles or anemones.
I have seven more peonies coming this fall and now I'm tempted to add Big Ben (which I've heard praised for the strength of its stems) but I've never actually seen it growing. Does anyone have it? How does it compare?
Mons. Jules Elie is not only my favorite peony but my favorite perennial, my favorite flower. It is the essence of flower-y--beautiful, enormously double, exquisite fragrance. I love it!!!
Thanks for answering my question. I love peonies w/ great fragrance but am not very fond of staking.
If you are not very fond of staking I recommend 'Bowl of Beauty' and some of the other scented Japanese types with strong stems. Also do a search for strong-stemmed, shorter doubles. There are so many different cultivars that you will have a wealth of choices -- and I never met a peony I didn't like. Have fun!
Ebster, please bear in mind that unless you live right around the corner from jayco (and maybe not even then) your peonies may not behave in the same way. Peonies are variable--even the same cultivar can perform differently in different climates and situations.
Growers are often blamed when a peony does not fit its description, when the best they can do is describe how the variety behaves in their climate with their soil. The length of time the plant has been growing in one place and how much shade it gets are other factors to consider.
Just checking around--one site lists FM as 18-24 inches tall, another lists it as 36 inches--go figure!
Rian is correct: all I can do is describe my own experiences with a particular plant. However, this is a good argument for Garden Web members to include where they live and their hardiness zone in their screen name....
My 'FM' is growing in full sun in decent but not great heavy soil. I have personally never seen a full-grown 'FM' that was not at least 36". Mine is closer to four feet. Of course, that doesn't mean they don't exist in your neighborhood.
I just went outside with a yardstick. In Va. clay I have one clump of FM that is 36" All the rest are shorter 32"-34" No explanation for why... Some sun, some shade, some both.... Yours are almost 4ft tall, WOW!
If you look at the info tags on many trees, shrubs, and yes, peonies, you will usually see a size range, as opposed to a definite declaration of size. Sometimes the range is so wide as to APPEAR to be ridiculous--10-20' feet tall by 10-20' wide is a specific example I remember from work. (I work part-time in a garden center.)
It's all about growing conditions.
My favorite this year was 'Bowl of Beauty'...though I'm very found of my 'Sarah Bernhardt-that-isn't'. (I think she's actually a mis-tagged Karl Rosenfeld.)
I'm reviving this post because I've learned something interesting from Allan Rogers' book--Peonies. He says that a long cool wet spring can add up to 8 inches to the height of some herbaceous varieties. That is exactly what we have had this year and the FMs are the tallest I have ever seen.