peonies - Knowledgebase Question

laurel hollow, Ne
Question by rowseys
August 12, 2010
My peonies have pods or something at the top of the old stems.I know it's time to separate the roots for new plants,but what are these pods?Can I plant them?


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Answer from NGA
August 12, 2010

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Many peonies, especially singles and semi-doubles, produce seed pods after the flowering season. The seed pods turn from green to a brownish colour as they ripen and can be quite decorative. The peony seed is about the size of a pea and is surrounded by a hard dark shiny coat. Most peony seeds are sterile but if you want to try to get them to germinate, here's how: Collect the seeds as soon as the pods begin to open. Either sow them directly in the garden or place them in a sealed plastic bag with some barely moist vermiculite or soil-less potting mix. Place the sealed bags in a warm area of the house (not in the sun) and check them every week to see if the root has emerged and ensure they are still moist (but not wet!)
Leave them in the warmth until the roots appear. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Once the roots appear and are about an 1 inch in length, move the bag to a cool location. The temperature should be around 40 degrees F. (I put them in an old refrigerator in my basement.) Leave them in the cold for about 10-12 weeks. Check them regularly to see if the shoot has appeared. If it has, remove them immediately and pot them up in a soilless germination mix. Otherwise, after 12 weeks remove the partially germinated seeds and pot them as above.

Depending on the time of year, you may have to grow them under lights for a few months before being able to transfer outside. Keep them under strong grow lights and keep them moist but not soggy. Over watering will kill the seedlings. Transfer them outside slowly as you would any other tender seedling They should however be outside in a seed bed by late summer. Be prepared to wait several years, perhaps 5 or more, before seeing any flowers The first flowers are not always indicative of a plant's potential. It may well be 7 years before a flower appears.

Best wishes with your peonies!

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