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Six Weeks of Peony Blooms
by B. Porter
May 31, 2015

How long do your peonies bloom? If you have only a week or two of bloom, perhaps it is time to look for some new cultivars that bloom earlier or later than the ones you have.

In a favorable season, some peony cultivars may stay in bloom for two to three weeks, (sometimes nearly 4 weeks) provided they have side-buds to continue the bloom. Most peonies derived from Paeonia lactiflora have this trait. Hybrid peonies often have only one bloom per stem, but often they bloom earlier, so they are still useful for extending the season. There are also other species peonies that bloom very early, but you will need to look to peony specialist vendors to find them, or to societies that offer seeds.

On the Canadian prairies, the Ural peony (P. anomala) is one of the earliest to bloom, along with fernleaf peonies and their hybrids such as 'Smoutii' (see photo), 'Peter Barr', and other newer ones. Some tree peonies (usually best with winter protection here), especially Japanese ones, are early as well, with Lutea Hybrids following or coinciding with them.

The Canadian Peony Society (www.paeonia.ca) has compiled a list of peonies giving relative blooming dates. All are compared to 'Red Charm', a popular double red hybrid peony that blooms here about June 15 most years. By comparing lists of cultivars as to whether they bloom before or after 'Red Charm', you can find peonies to extend your blooming season. A list of vendors can also be found at that site.

Email: bjporter@accesscomm.ca
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