A peony bud about to open.
image by Brandon Blinkenberg/sxc.hu
Perennial peonies come back year after year with a colorful early summer show of bright blooms. Peonies live upwards of 50 years and require minimal maintenance to thrive in the garden. The green foliage graces landscaping all the way into autumn. Plant in beds, borders or containers for a bright summer show. Peonies grown from seed produce no foliage the first year as they develop their root system. In the second year, leaves begin forming, and within three to five years the peony will produce its first flowers.
Collect seeds once seed pods crack open naturally. Avoid collecting the seeds early or they won't be ripe enough to germinate.
Fill a plastic bag with vermiculite. Dampen it slightly then add the seeds.
Seal the bag closed tightly then place in a warm room out of direct sunlight. Ensure the vermiculite stays slightly damp by check weekly. Roots appear anytime between three weeks to three months.
Move the bag to a cool area once the roots are 1 inch long. Maintain a temperature of about 40 degrees where the peony bags are stored. Check weekly for the first seedling shoot to form. They form in approximately 12 weeks.
Fill a pot with soilless seed starting mix. Dig a small hole in the middle and plant so just the shoot is visible above the soil surface.
Place in a warm, sunny window or under a grow light. Avoid placing them where cold drafts will hit them.
Keep the soil moist but not soaking wet. Water lightly more often as opposed to deep watering.
Move plants outside for three hours each day once all danger of frost has passed. Expand the time over two or more weeks that they spend outside until they are spending all daylight hours outdoors.
Transplant to the garden bed by late summer. Peonies prefer well drained soil in full to partial sun.