Please help me choose

olga_6bMay 13, 2005

This is my first post on this forum. My regular place is antique rose forum.

I love peonies and grow many different herb. varieties. But I have no experience with tree peony. This fall I want to plant 2-3 different tree peonies. I am looking for something that will be hardy in Maryland (zone 6B), relatively easy to grow and give me a lot of blooms when mature. I am patient person and don't look for immediate gratification, but bigger plants which will bloom soomer is a plus. What is the best place to oder? Also would you recomend more Chinese or Japanese varieties. What is the main difference between them in terms of garden performance. Which are the best in your opinion, in different colors groups. Sorry, too many questions.

I want for example, one red, one pink and

one something else. Fragrance is a big plus but not absolutely necessary.

Thank you very much.


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Olga, with tree peony you should buy the oldest that you can afford. A three to four year old tree peony should bloom for you.

Regarding the difference between a Chinese tree peony and a Japanese tree peony. What I've been told is that the Japanese tree peony (hybridized from the Chinese tree peony) will get a bit taller and the flowers will stand out from the foliage more. Where as a Chinese tree peony will be more of a rounded shrub shape and the flowers will nestle down into the foliage more, even to the point of being obscured by the foliage. I think most of the tree peonies commonly seen in peoples gardens are peony suffruticosa, but there are many other species of tree peony, too, they are just a bit harder to come by.

To sum it up, just get one, you'll not be sorry. ;) Maybe someone else has some better information for you.

IA Z5a

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 3:29PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

A japanese variety will be grafted and cheaper for the same size plant. You may have to contend with herbaceous suckers for a few years but otherwise there isn't much difference. A chinese plant will be grown on its own roots which makes it slower to establish and so more expensive to buy at flowering size.

Look at different varieties for flower form and colour. The range is almost infinite. The best one is the one that you like the best. Try also to find out what a mature shrub will look like. Some are tall and graceful, others are dense mounds. Foliage shape and colour is nearly as variable as the flowers.

Fragrance is tricky. Very few growers will describe the fragrance on the different cultivars because it varies so much. I can tell you that Rimpo has a heavy rose fragrance in my garden, but others don't report any scent.

If you buy a potted plant locally, you'll be fairly restricted on choice. If you set your heart on a particular named then you'll probably have to order bare-root on the internet. Either way, I encourage you to make the effort. I feel that tree peonies are better in every respect than the herbaceous kind.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 5:01PM
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Thank you very much. This is all very helpfull. So what are the good mail order places for Tree peonies?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 5:16PM
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oshenar(rainy West Coast z8)

Hi Olga,

I remember you from the rose forum. You are the one with the beautifully large Abraham Darby rose...

Most peonies are very hardy so your area should not be a problem at all for them. Most actually need the cold to bloom and thrive. As for fragrance, most tree peonies are very fragrant (I think that many have very similar scents to Austin's Mary Rose, Tamora, and Sharifa Asma...).

Some good varieties of tree peonies that you may want to try:

Yellow - High Noon (citrus fragrance)
Pink - Hana Kisoi (rosa alba-like in fragrance)
Red / Purple - Kamada-Fuji (damask-like scent)

White - Renkaku (I don't grow this plant, but my neighbor has a huge one in his backyard, it is not as strongly scented but it's still fragrant).

these are some sites that you may want to have a look at. I have bought from Fraser Thimble's (he's the only canadian mail order big enough to carry a good selection).

Have fun. Unless the peonies are in pots, it may be quite late in the season now to plant. Maybe you should wait for fall.


    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 10:30PM
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Os, thank you very much for your information and recomendations. It really helps when you don't know where to start. I am glad you remember my Abraham Darby. It is huge now and loaded with buds. When it will bloom I will post a picture for you.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 2:49PM
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raptorfan(z5 Ont, Cda)

Olga, If you peonies end up as beautiful as your roses, then I can't wait until you start posting here! Always enjoy your photos. (well, except for the scary bug one last year!)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 3:48PM
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irinas(6B NJ)

Olga, we just visited a tree peony farm in Pennsylvania - Peonyland. If it is not too far from you you might consider going there. Being able to see plants in bloom made a big difference. As was mentioned above, they are all different - in form, height as well as habit.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 10:15AM
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jazzmom516(Zone 7 LI, NY)

THis link should help you care for whatever peonies you do decide to purchase.

Here is a link that might be useful: Peonies

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 4:26PM
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Thank you for kind words,Raptorfan.
Irina, I will do the search for Peonyland and see how far away they are from me. Thanks a lot.
Jazzmom, thank you very much. Great information.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 9:21PM
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