The Q&A Archives: Peony Planting

Question: I inherited a wonderful, fragrant old double white peony that had many blooms it's third year. I would like to compliment my garden with another fragrant peony - a double, red or dark pink of medium height. Please recommend several varieties for the San Francisco Bay Area. When to plant and special instructions -- Grandma just said wait three years and you'll be surprised -- I was delighted!

Answer: Peonies should be planted in the early fall, 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. Some really fragrant peonies include 'Hoosierland' (wine-colored), 'Mons. Jules Elie' (large pink double), and 'Nancy Nichols' (blush pink).

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