INTRODUCTION – We are a duly registered specialty crop farm and grow, harvest and cut our own peony roots right here in the Midwest. The root divisions or “peony starts” are prepared by us to meet the industry standard Grade 1 (3 to 5 eyes) in general. The USDA and the Missouri Department of Agriculture inspect our roots prior shipping and certify the plants to meet standards, to be free of disease and pests. Some rare and novel peonies may not conform to these industry Grade 1 standards in regards to eye count or size and are so identified in our catalog. However, we prepare generous-sized peony divisions including the rare and novel peonies and will mail out the largest roots with as many eyes possible for any cultivar we grow. Peony starts are cut from plants that are 4 years old and would have flowered here in the upcoming year. Therefore, these divisions are programed to flower at your location in the first year. However, if subjected to adversity conditions or planted in chronically unfavorable growing environments, it may take several years to see a flower, or the plant may die. For helpful references, see our online library.
PLANTING – Peonies are planted in the fall. They do best when planted at the right time of the year. The peony starts are sent to you ready to plant and should be planted promptly upon receipt. See the diagram above. Dig a hole in previously prepared, moist soil that is deep enough and wide enough to receive the plant so that the bottom of the shoot buds (also called "eyes") can be placed two (2) inches under the surface and roots pointed outward/downward. Pack the soil around each root so the division will not settle too deep when watered. Hill up over the plant for the first winter to reduce frost heaving and prevent standing water. Mark each plant with variety name on a stake and make a planting chart for future reference.
PLANTING SITE AND CARE – Peonies need fertile soil and good moisture to perform well. For instance, an area that would allow for a productive vegetable garden soil, with high organic matter and good drainage. Full sun supports best growth, but flower durability may be prolonged by light shade and by shelter from strong winds. Do not allow lawn grass to grow over the root zone of your new peonies, at least not until after the bush becomes large enough to shade out the grass.
SPECIAL INFORMATION FOR THE SOUTH – The peony growing area includes certain parts of Alaska and the northern two thirds (2/3) of the continental US. This area consists of USDA Climate Zone 2 though Zone 7. Peonies are not expected to grow in the South (South of I-20). Peonies that may be marginally successful in USDA Climate Zone 8 include the Itoh hybrids and some Lactiflora Group peonies. Individual varieties are variable in this respect so that it should be possible to identify favorably constituted kinds. Ask locally.