How to grow peonies from seed

Peonies are generally categorised as either woody (tree peonies) or herbaceous perennials. Both of which arguably include some of the most beautiful of all hardy flowering plants. However as beautiful as they are they can also be costly to purchase and so propagating your own stock from seed is an inexpensive way to produce large numbers of plants.

peony seeds -
Be aware that while all peonies can be raised from seed, any named varieties or hybrids will not grow true to the parents. That being said, species peonies are self-fertile and in the absence of other peony species will produce seed true to type. Just remember that species peopies will easily cross with other peonies (species or hybrids) and unless the species is isolated, hybrids may well occur.

Collect peony seeds fresh from the plants and sow during September on to the surface of pots pans filled with a good quality soil-based compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'. Dried, shop-purchased seeds should be sown as soon as possible but germination rates will not be as successful as freshly collected seeds.

Cover with a layer of horticultural grit, water in and then leave outside to over winter inside a closed, but ventilated cold frame. Make sure that the compost does not dry out in summer and protect from being eaten by rats, mice or squirrels.

Peony seedlings -
While some peony seeds will germinate the following spring, others will express 'double dormancy' which means only the root emerges after the first winter, with the stem and leaves appearing in the spring after the second winter.

In whichever year they germinate, they should be large enough to prick out in the May and can then be planted directly into a nursery bed.

Grow on in the nursery rows for a further three or four years before lifting them out of the beds and planting into their final position.

The young plants will be happy in any moist but well-drained garden soil in either full sun or semi-shade. Peonies will also benefit from having some well-rotted farm manure or garden compost dug into the ground beforehand.

Mulch annually and water freely during periods of dry weather.

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