All bulbs for fall 2015 are SOLD OUT. You can order for NEXT fall starting Dec. 1.

WHY GROW PEONIES? They're old-fashioned, easy to grow, offer armloads of flowers, and can live a century or more.

PEONY HISTORY — As Alice Coats wrote, “The long roots of the peony strike deep into the past.” Learn more.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS — Give them full sun and a little patience as they settle in and peonies will reward you for decades. Learn more.

PEONY PARADISE        Sampler

For a lifetime of luxurious beauty, plant our easy heirloom peonies this fall. We’ll send you 3 of our favorite old-fashioned doubles – 1 pink, 1 white, and 1 rose-red, all labeled and superb. Give them a sunny spot and they’ll reward you with abundant blooms for a century or more – and they make great cut flowers! For zones 3a-7b(8bWC) only, please. Peony care.

For 2, 3, or more of each variety, order additional samplers.

COF-90 1/$48.50 2/$93 3/$133 4/$171 5/$209 SOLD OUT
CHESTINE GOWDY, 1913        It’s Back!
“This richly fragrant, “tri-colored” peony is decidedly different – and lovely. Its soft pink outer petals frame a flurry of creamy white inner petals that open to reveal a central tuft of pink flecked with crimson. It’s free-flowering, too, with strong stems for garden and bouquets. 28-32”, late, zones 3a-7b(8bWC), 3-5 eyes, from Iowa. Chart & care.
PE-06 1/$16.50 2/$31.50 3/$45 5/$71 10/$132 25/$297 SOLD OUT
FESTIVA MAXIMA, 1851        
The most famous peony of all, ‘Festiva Maxima’ has been a standard of excellence since Hovey’s of Boston first offered it in the US in 1852. Its big, sparkling white flowers are highlighted by a few dribbles of crimson, its stems are strong, and it blooms reliably even in the South. 3-5 eye roots, 34-36”, zones 3a-8a(8bWC), from Iowa. Chart & care.
PE-01 1/$16.50 2/$31.50 3/$45 5/$71 10/$132 25/$297 SOLD OUT
FRANCES WILLARD, 1907        It’s Back!
Although rarely offered today, this is one of the best of the Brand family’s many great peonies. Experts throughout the 1900s praised its “perfectly formed” flower (Bonnewitz), its “very floriferous” habit (Boyd), and the “pearliness of its delicate cream-and-blush coloring” (Harding). Its name honors the Chicago reformer who urged women to “Do everything.” Lightly fragrant, strong stems, 30-34”, mid-season, zones 3a-7b(8bWC), 3-5 eyes, from Iowa. Chart & care.
PE-17 1/$17.50 2/$33.50 3/$48 5/$75.50 10/$140 25/$315 SOLD OUT
JAMES R. MANN, 1920        Rarest & New
The distinctively striped buds of this rare peony help to ramp up the anticipation for its big, rosy pink flowers. Introduced during the Arts and Crafts era, it has a romantically “loose and fluffy” form (Boyd, 1928) that may remind you of roses or lotus blossoms. Its name honors an Illinois congressman who championed women’s rights and loved peonies. 34-36”, mid-season, zones 3a-7b(8bWC), 3-5 eyes, from Iowa. Chart & care.
PE-33 1/$17.50 2/$33.50 3/$48 5/$75.50 10/$140 25/$315 SOLD OUT
MONS. MARTIN CAHUZAC, 1899        
Long known as the darkest peony of all, this French icon is a wine-dark maroon that looks even darker amid its pastel cousins. Its satiny petals have a shimmer of black, and the sometimes unruly form of its flowers only adds to its darkly romantic je ne sais quoi. Strong stems, 32-34”, mid-season, zones 3a-7b(8bWC), 3-5 eyes, from Iowa. Chart & care.
PE-03 1/$17.50 2/$33.50 3/$48 5/$75.50 10/$140 25/$315 SOLD OUT

PEONY HISTORY – “The long roots of the peony strike deep into the past,” Alice Coats writes in Flowers and Their Histories. The Roman Pliny called them the oldest of plants, and they’ve been grown in Asian gardens for thousands of years.

The first peonies brought to America by the colonists were forms of Paeonia officinalis, a European peony with herbal uses that’s often called the “Memorial Day piney.” Chinese forms of P. lactiflora arrived in the early 1800s, causing a hubbub, and before long many new varieties were being introduced by French and then British breeders. Enthusiasm peaked in the early 20th-century when peonies were enormously popular for both garden and cut-flower use. American breeders came to the fore then, and millions of blossoms cut in the “soft marshmallow” stage were shipped to florists across the country.

PEONY ARCHIVES — For customer tips and raves, the stories behind the flowers, links and books, history, news, and more, see our Peony Newsletter Archives.

PEONIES AS CUT FLOWERS — For tips for enjoying longer lasting bouquets without damaging your plants, see our Bulbs as Cut Flowers page.

PEONY PLANTING AND CARE — Peonies are tough, undemanding perennials that can bloom happily for a century or more with little care.

Plant in early fall. Do not delay! Since peonies are planted only 1-2 inches deep, the soil around them will freeze much earlier than it will for bulbs planted 6 inches deep. If they don’t have enough time to establish new feeder roots before the ground freezes, they will struggle and could fail altogether.

Choose a sunny to lightly shaded spot with good air circulation and plenty of room for them to grow. Because they like ample water, they do best in somewhat heavier (clay) soils and away from the roots of trees and shrubs.

Peony roots and eyes (buds) are brittle, so plant carefully. Dig a generous hole and position the rootstock so the eyes face up and are no more than 1-2 inches below the surface of the soil once it’s been filled in and firmed. Shallow is best; deep planting leads to poor or no bloom. Mark the spot with a stake or peony ring to protect it. Water deeply, and maintain even soil moisture until the ground freezes to help the plant develop as many feeder roots as possible its first fall.

To protect these delicate new roots the first winter, apply a winter mulch. After the ground freezes, mound the newly planted area with 2-4 inches of soil or 5-8 inches of a fluffy, non-matting mulch such as straw, cornstalks, peat moss, or evergreen boughs — but not leaves.

In spring, be sure to remove the mulch before top-growth begins, and be careful not to injure new sprouts. Different varieties will emerge at different times, so patience is advised. Scratch a couple of tablespoons of balanced fertilizer (10-10-10 is ideal) into the soil around the plant, outside the ring of stems, as its leaves begin to unfurl. Water throughout spring and till after bloom-time, especially the first year.

Bloom will be meager the first year as the plant pours most of its energy into establishing a strong root system. More blooms will follow the second year, and even more the third. As you cut blooms, leave as much foliage as possible to continue feeding the plant.

Staking – Even the strongest peony stems will bow when their gloriously double flowers are drenched by rain. Most of the time, though, they’ll stand back up if you gently shake the water out immediately afterwards, so most gardeners grow their peonies au naturel. We like to give them more support, though. See our Supporting Peonies page for two options: cheap and easy and the Hildene star.

In the fall when the leaves begin to turn brown, cut the stems to the ground, collect all the foliage, and throw it away instead of composting it. Though peonies are generally healthy and tough, this will help prevent diseases such as botrytis blight and leaf blotch from getting a toehold or carrying over to the next season.

After the first spring, fertilize only sparingly. Peonies generally need little fertilizer and plants that are over-fertilized will not bloom well. If you do fertilize, keep it away from the crown of the plant where there are no feeder roots. Spread it instead 6-18 inches from the crown, work it into the soil, and water well.

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