Answer: Peonies will, indeed, grow in Alaska. A well planted peony can remain in one spot for 50 years or more. You can grow them in pots, but they resent having their roots disturbed so choose large pots and you won't have to repot them very often. Peonies prefer a sunny location, but will tolerate partial shade. Shady locations will also produce flowers, but it may take an additional 1-2 years to become well established.
Bare root peonies are best planted in the fall. This encourages a good root formation before the plants begin their top growth in the spring. When planting just the roots, leave 2" soil over the top-most eye. If you have a plant that is already growing, go ahead and plant it now, setting it at the soil soil level as it was growing in the pot.
Plant in well drained soil. Peonies will not tolerate moisture settling around or near the crown. No wet feet! A raised area (even up to 6") or a slight slope will extend the life and production of your peony.
In the fall, after the foliage dies down, heap the soil 6-8" above the eyes. Remove this soil in the spring.
If you decide to plant your peonies in pots, plan on burying the pots in the ground in the fall, in a protected but well draining place. This will protect the roots from the freezing/thawing cycle which could ultimately lead to their death.
Best wishes with your new peonies.
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