The Q&A Archives: Heirloom Peony

Question: I have a variety of peony growing adjacent to my 100 year old house that I have been unable to identify. I suspect its been here at least 40-50 years. I would like to buy additional roots, but can't identify it. Here's the desciption, it is an early-blooming large headed pink peony that stands about 2-3 feet tall. It smells exactly like an old damask rose. I have ordered multiple peonies from various catalogs, and after waiting 1-2 yrs for a bloom been disappointed that this is not the same variety. I am afraid to divide the root for fear I'll kill it altogether. I hope you can identify this peony for me and tell me where I might purchase more.

Answer: Unfortunately, based on your description I am unable to identify your peony for you. As you know, there are many varieties of this ever popular flower, hundreds of them dating back to before 1900! I have several suggestions, however. One is to contact your local County Extension and area garden clubs and see if there are any peony or heirloom plant collectors in your area who might know it, or perhaps research old-name local nurseries in your area and see if they might have been the original supplier. Neighbors who might have known "the gardener" who lived in your house might also be able to help you track it down. Peonies are not terribly difficult to lift and divide, so if all else fails you really should consider this. If you are not comfortable in trying it yourself, you might be able to find a professional nursery propagator who would be willing to do it for you. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful.

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