Sunday, July 25, 2010


People have asked me, "Where are the seeds on the peony plant?"

The simple answer is, after the plant has finished blooming many cut off the spent flower during there cleanup and have lost the seed head. If you leave the plant shortly after the flowers are finished it will slowly start to grow this fuzzy 3 pronged capsule, inside each if fertilized will be a number of fat seeds.

Around mid July to early August you should start to see some of these fuzzy capsules splitting and little black, or blue balls inside. These are your seeds. Collect the seeds as soon as the pods begin to open (The harder the outer shell, the longer the first dormancy period) Using barely moist vermiculite or soil less seed mix place your seeds into a sealed plastic bag.
Place bags in a warm area of the house (not in the sun), check them every week to see if roots have emerged and ensure they are still moist (but not wet!) Roots can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
When roots appear and are about 2.5 cm or 1 inch in length, place them in the fridge. This is their cold period. Leave them for about 10-12 weeks, checking to see if any shoots have appeared. As soon as you see a shoot remove from fridge and pot in a soil less mix. At the 12 week stage remove partially germinated seed and pot them.
If you can, (weather permits) place them in a cold frame outside or under lights until March / April. Do not over water. Transfer outside as you would tender seedlings, making sure to have them all out in a seed bed by late summer.

Growing from seed is very time consuming taking up to 5 years for your first flower to appear. Even after this your first blooms may not convey the end result of your plant. It may take 7 years before you see the true flowers on a mature plant.

You could also sow your seed directly in the ground where natural temps provide the dormancy and growth conditions required. You may have to wait until the second spring before you see shoots. (Delay is precipitated by a hard seed coat not having enough time in fall to overcome first dormancy)

Seed sits in soil until following spring, bringing warm moist conditions to break first dormancy.
Near the end of summer roots should be produced.
Over winter seeds overcome second dormancy before producing a shoot the next spring.

Give it a try and see what happens!! I have several that should give me blooms sometime in the next year or two.

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