Saturday, April 14, 2012

Japanese Tree Peonies and Your Grandmother's Peonies

So I am working in the yard today. I am spreading wood chips and cutting nice clean bed lines. As I cut the bed line past the apple tree a see a small plant. It's a single leaf, really, growing right where I need to cut the bed line. A seed from my Japanese peony 'Hanakisoi' has germinated, right where I need to cut the bed line.

Amazingly, it has a single leaf and a nice 4" taproot coming out of the large seed and it comes free of the dirt very easily. I transplant it into my potager and mark it with sticks. I have collected seeds the last two years, and tried a couple different ways to germinated them without success.

Nature will find a way.

Japanese Tree Peonies are typically not grown from seed, except by hybridizers. I wasn't sure they were even self-fertile. There some intersectional peonies arising from crosses between the typical old-fashioned herbaceous peonies and the Japanese tree peonies. I do have two Japanese tree peonies, a white one which I thought had died this past mild winter possibly because I had moved it a half dozen times the last two years, and the beauty 'Hanakisoi'. Most likely, it is a cross with the Duchess du Nemours herbaceous peonies growing just across the path.

Japanese tree peonies are typically propagated by grafting buds onto the roots of herbaceous peonies. They need to be planted below their graft so the grafts eventually grow their own roots. Planting too shallowly tempts the herbaceous peony to try to grow foliage and flowers of its own, too.

The seedling has nice purpley-red edges to its lone leaf. I'm not sure how long it will take to bloom on its own, possibly up to five years. I'll have to find it a spot of its own eventually, unless I attempt to graft it and jump it ahead in its flowering cycle. I'll have a while to wait otherwise!

1 comment:

  1. Tree peony seeds are much easier to grow than most people think. All that is required is pushing them into good soil by about 2 inches deep to protect them from the freeze/thaw cycle or pests, and allow them to successfully vernalize over the winter.

    I really enjoy growing these guys from seeds. Here's a sample of what I grow.