The Q&A Archives: Peonies in Southern California

Question: I just bought a peony, dutchess with no instructions. Please help! Can we grow peonies in Southern California and how? I never thought we could. It is a bare root?

Answer: Herbaceous peonies bloom well only when they experience a period pronounced winter chill. In your mild winter climate your plant will probably produce flowers this year, but won't perform well for you in subsequent years.

You can plant your peony directly in the in deep, rich, moist soil. Dig a hole at least 1 1/2 feet deep (roots go this far down!) and amend the soil with lots of organic matter to help loosen the soil and to retain moisture. Then backfill, planting the dormant root clump so that the eyes are no deeper than about 2 inches under the surface of the soil. If you plant deeper, the buds will die before the sprouts reach the sunlight in the spring.

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