Category Archives: Peonies

The First Peonies are Blooming!

The First Peonies are Blooming!

Coral Supreme Peony

Here are the photos of the first peonies to bloom this spring.  The first ones are always the Coral Charm, Coral Supreme, Coral Sunset and the second and overlapping peony is Red Charm.  They were blooming in profusion (California’s version of profusion!) starting in mid April.

The First Peonies are Blooming!

Red Charm Peony

The coral peonies are semi-double and somewhat double but open up very flat rather than staying in a tighter bloom.  Red Charm stays very fluffy and the center bomb stands out with the larger guard petals making a skirt.  These are among my favorite peonies.

And then there is Mrs. F.D. Roosevelt.  There was only one plant blooming this early with others to follow later.

The First Peonies are Blooming!

MRS. F.D. Roosevelt Peony

There was one early Festiva Maxima and one Do Tell a few days later.  And one I didn’t recognize as well as a Japanese single, Doreen.

The First Peonies are Blooming!

Festiva Maxima Peony


The First Peonies are Blooming!

Do Tell Peony


The First Peonies are Blooming!

Doreen Peony

What is to Come?

Peonies will be blooming for another month, if last year’s experience was typical.  Usually, I just enjoy the blooms as they come and don’t bother to document the timing and sequence, but I did do that last year.  I missed the end of the bloom as I left for a trip near then end of May which surprised me as I didn’t remember having blooms extend into June.  I missed seeing the last ones to bloom.

The varieties left to bloom apart are more coral peonies, Henry Bockstoce, Sarah Bernhardt, Mrs. FD Roosevelt and Festiva Maxima in their regular time, Carol, Charlie’s White, Cheddar Surprise, Coral Fay, Paula Fay, Duchess de Nemours, Gardenia, Mons Jules Elie, Princess Margaret, and Mr. Ed.  Most are doubles or bomb form in this group.

If you are in the area do call and come see them.





What are Your Favorite Peonies?

Please tell me which peonies you have enjoyed or admired most over the years,  I have my favorites, but once in a while another one takes my eye!

Coral Supreme, Red Charm, Mrs. F.D. Roosevelt are favorites, but this year I was knocked out by Duchess de Nemours which had an extraordinary bloom.  Perhaps this peony takes a long time to grow large enough to produce such blooms, but only by looking it up did I figure out what it was!

From time to time, Doreen, a single pink Japanese (large, fluffy center of yellow stamens) has been a favorite as has Mons. Jules Elie.  Also, Sarah Bernhardt which has dense pink petals is wonderful as is the sturdy Henry Bockstoce with almost a rose form.

Ivory Victory was spectacular years ago and I’ve located some again. etc. etc.

So, write to me and let me know what you like most and maybe I’ll learn some new varieties!

Peonies on Table
From left, Coral Supreme (fading), Princess Margaret, Doreen, Mrs. F.D. Roosevelt (several at different stages), Henry Bockstoce, and others.

Planting, Growing and Caring for Peonies in California

Selecting Sites for Peonies:

One of the most important thing about planting peonies is that need to be sited in well draining soil as they do not like to have wet feet.  They need to be planted in filtered shade in warm climates, if possible, as they will not bloom in full shade and the flowers will have a shorter lifespan when in full sun.  Where they are adapted, they can grow for 100 years, and they do not require regular fertilizer or even water in some cases.  When I plant my peonies, I add compost and peat moss mixed into the soil at planting time and then neglect them as far as further feeding, unless I am adding a mulch between rows.  If you are mulching with shredded paper like newspaper or junk mail, sprinkling on a little nitrogen rich fertilizer over it to help the paper decompose.  Do be careful not to cover the roots of the peony with paper or mulch any deeper than it is planted.  In California and in other warm climates, the buds are planted just below or at ground level.  Do not let fertilizer touch the plant roots or growth or it can burn the peony.

Watering Peonies:

Peonies need lots of water when they are getting established and during the growth period.  After they have been in the ground for a few years, they will take some drought conditions but still need water occaionally.  They should be watered during the periods when they are growing and blooming.  As they will die back and go dormant at the end of the summer, water is not as important after the blooming season is over.

Staking Peonies:

Large, double peonies tend to need staking as the mature plants can get very tall and the weight of the blooms can make the stem flop.  There are several types of aids, individual stakes, circular wire with three legs that encircle the plant and put into place as the plant is sending up stalks.  Another type has a grid where individual stems are coaxed through the mesh in order to keep them in place.  Single peonies need no or less staking than doubles.

Cutting Peonies:

No stems should be cut during the first year of a plant’s bloom. When a stem is to be cut, try to leave as many leaves as is possible so that they can manufacture food and the nutrients can feed the roots at the end of the season.

Cutting Back at the end of the season:

The stems and leaves will dry to brown at the end of the growing season and can be cut away or pulled off when dry. These leaves should be removed to a compost pile rather than being left alongside the plants to avoid gettng disease or fungus. In warm climates, they do not need any top dressing or mulching to protect from cold.

Dividing Peony Clumps:

When dividing the roots, leave 3-5 buds on each division and replant with compost mixed into the soil and water well. This is done in the fall.

Bulbs, Corms and Peonies in Bloom May 7, 2012

Some new peonies are blooming in this first week of May.  I’ve seen the first blooms of Festiva Maxima, Mrs. F.D. Roosevelt is in bud, Henry Bockstoce, Gay Paree, Krinkled White, Charlie’s White, Mons. Jules Elie, Mr. Ed, other white variations of peonies are in bloom. Continuing to bloom are the ones listed last week, and still have some new buds opening on the Coral Charm and Coral Supreme.   The red peonies, Red Charm and Henry Bockstoce are in bloom.

Watsonia, a tall white bloom is starting to show up and the blue anemones are slowing down and about to call it quits, but there are new, shorter flowers coming up still.  The freesias are still blooming but also near the end.  Lilies are coming up including Stargazer and large Aurelian lilies that I used to grow for cut flowers, but are not easy to find these days.  They have big trumpets and strange downward drooping, hairy looking leaves, and will bloom in the later part of the summer.  Daffodils are still dying back and until they turn brown will not be cut or mowed.

These photos were all taken this morning.

Gay Paree

Gay Paree


Japanese Single Peony

Japanese Single Peony, White


Coral Peony

Coral Peony starting the change to Buff, White


Duchess de Nemours

Duchess de Nemours


Mr. Ed Peony

Mr. Ed Peony


Mons Jules Elie Peony

Mons Jules Elie Peony

Peonies in Bloom! April 30, 2012

I recently posted the photos of the first peonies to bloom this year and they are still in bloom along with a few others.

Red Charm, Doreen, Coral Supreme, Coral Sunset, Coral Charm, Duchess de Nemours and Single Japanese Peonies are blooming now.

Do Tell Japanese Pink Peony

Do Tell, Japanese Pink Peony and Bud


Do Tell Japanese Pink Peony

Do Tell, Japanese Pink Peony


Coral Sunset Double Coral Peony

Coral Sunset, Double Coral Peony


Coral Sunset Double Coral Peony

Coral Sunset, Double Coral Peony, beginning to Fade


Doreen Japanese Rose Peony

Doreen, Japanese Rose Peony


Doreen Japanese Single Rose Peony

Doreen, Japanese Single Rose Peony


Doreen Peony Japanese Single Rose Peony

Doreen Peony, Japanese Single Rose Peony


Red Charm Peony

Red Charm Peony, Bomb Type


Duchess de Nemours Double White Peony

Duchess de Nemours, Double White Peony


Double White Peony

Duchess de Nemours, Double White Peony