This article was written and submitted by Laurie Jensen, Wright County Extension Master Gardener
Peonies in July, August or even September? Peonies are a favorite wedding flower, yet they flower in our Minnesota gardens in late spring and early summer – mainly in May to early June. So how can we enjoy them all through the summer?
The peonies in the picture are from my grandmother’s garden in Central Minnesota. Grandma Genevieve passed away just a few days after my daughter was born, her first great-grandchild and they never got to meet. As a remembrance, I dug up her two peony plants from her garden in late-October 1999 and transplanted them to my Buffalo home. They have been thriving for the past 21 years and I am reminded of my grandmother every spring thanks to this historic perennial.
This year, I decided I wanted to have peonies for our July wedding anniversary. Of course, the peony flowers and blooms had long faded, but just a couple of months earlier I had a plan. When the peony plants were about to bloom, I selected a few of the early buds (those that were soft like marshmallows). I cut them off in the early morning, removed any leaves, and wrapped them in plastic wrap—making sure they were tightly wrapped so air could not penetrate the buds. I immediately laid them horizontally in a refrigerator.
A day before our July 23 anniversary, I unwrapped the plastic wrap, snipped off the ends of the peony stems and put them in tepid water and placed them in a cool place to rehydrate. The next morning we were able to celebrate our anniversary with this lovely bouquet of flowers. Thank you, Grandma Genevieve for this beautiful gift!
Some peony planting tips and information:
- The best time to plant peonies is in October or late fall. If they are planted too deep, they may not flower. Peonies need to be planted with the eyes (the budding stems) no deeper than two cm below the surface. They love the sun but will tolerate part shade. This plant needs a good amount of water and well-drained soil.
- If moving peonies, dig around the plant carefully and try to lift the entire clump. You will want to take as much soil as possible avoiding breaking the tuberous roots.
- If you want peonies from cuttings you need PATIENCE! It may take up to three years for a cut planting to have any blooms.
- ANTS! Do they need them or not? No, ants are not needed to bloom. They tend to like the sugary substance on the early buds, but will disappear when they bloom.
Peonies can transcend many generations. If you love peonies and want to add to the joy for generations to come, check out the following local peony gardens.
Countryside Gardens, Inc. - Peony Farm
10602 Fenner Ave. SE
Delano, MN 55328
PO Box 209
Howard Lake, MN 55349