On Saturday I saw peony plants for sale in a local nursery for the first time ever. Costco usually has bare roots that need several years growth to flower, but peonies have not been a plant of preference here. I really do not know why. Perhaps because we are called zone 9, and perhaps because most of our local nursery people are Puerto Rican, we get a lot more tropical type plants which do not take to our sloppy cold winters. SoCal is where you get your real zone 9. But now Monrovia has taken to growing and selling the old time plants like lilac and peony. Good!
So peonies are blooming! The key to growing peonies is to get the eyes (those little pink shoots at the top of the roots) situated correctly in the soil. Peonies need chill, and while we have enough for them to grow, the eyes need to be very shallow, even sitting at the surface, to grow well here. As perennials, peonies shoot up dramatically in the spring. The buds come up with the peonies, they flower at various times, all in April and May here, and then sit all summer with rich green foliage, and then die back in the fall, again at varying times. The dead foliage needs to be trashed, not composted. While peonies are lovely here, they really come into their own in cold climates with shorter growing periods. In Alaska, Denise has peonies blooming nearly all summer by planting early, mid and late blooming varieties. Her lilacs do the same. I am just happy enough to have some, even though my main plant is pink. My new species plant that Rob and Candace gave me last year does not have flowers this year. I am not sure if it is just settling in or if it actually needs more cold. We will see as time goes by.