Peony plants are herbaceous flowers that are hardy in USDA growing zones 2 through 8. Once the plants are established, they are easy to maintain, and they produce dramatic color and scent. Most peony plants are propagated through division, but seed germination produces a larger quantity of plants. Be patient while growing plants from germinated seed. It may take years before you see flowers.
Germinate Peony Seeds
Collect peony seeds from plant pods when the pods begin to open and seed coats are dark. The best time to collect is between July and September depending on the variety and climate. In dry climates, maturing happens earlier.
Place the seeds in water for several days. Change the water daily to prevent disease. Remove seeds that are rotted or mushy.
Remove the seeds from the water when they are plump. Disinfect by placing them in a solution of nine parts water and one part bleach for several minutes. Place them in a plastic bag that contains moistened horticultural grade vermiculite. Seal the bag and place it in a location that is a minimum of 75 degrees F to initiate germination.
Inspect the seeds every two to three weeks and remove any dead seeds or those that have begun to rot. Moldy seeds should also be removed.
Move the bagged seeds to a place where the temperature is 50 to 60 degrees about four months prior to spring planting. This initiates the production of roots, which become evident about a week after moving. Keep the seeds in the bag for a month after moving to a lower temperature.
Lower the temperature to 40 degrees after one month of rooting to simulate the wintering process. This step initiates the production of above-ground plant growth. Monitor the seedlings for plant growth. Some may show changes a month after lowering the temperature. Remove early-growing seeds and place in a separate bag that is at a temperature just above freezing to hold back growth while the remaining seeds catch up. This process takes 10 to 12 weeks.
Plant the germinated seeds in warm soil after the plumule shows. Planting the seeds too early will result in failed growth. Place the pots in a greenhouse or under grow lights to initiate further growth before planting outdoors.