Peonies forum: Help - Peony shoots and late winter freeze?

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Feb 21, 2018 1:03 PM CST
I'm a little late to the game on this, but we are experiencing a freeze here in the PNW and we are on day 4. January was quite warm, so everything has already gotten started on spring growth.
My beautiful and established Cora Louise itoh peony already has some hefty shoots on it (maybe 5 inches long?). Is there anything I can do to protect them at this point? I mulched the base of he plant last week, I had thought this would be a one day occurrence, but I woke up this morning to the third morning sub 30 degrees!
Any reassurance or ideas?

I have a few smaller itohs, the most promising of which had it's main shoot chomped by an animal (argh!) yesterday, so, I am panicing I will not be able to enjoy peony blooms this spring in my garden. Thanks!
Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Feb 21, 2018 1:09 PM CST
As long as temps are above 30F, you need not worry much about them. If there is an extended freeze like 30F and below, best to cover the bush with either a big pot or trash can. You should be ok. Extended temps in the 20's and below is when most damage occurs (at least for my peonies anyway).

Feb 21, 2018 3:44 PM CST
Thank you! I will try to protect it tonight. Last year we had a cold snap and I tented my young rhododendrons, but had to get rid of my materials this spring.

It has been below 30 for a few days (very rare this time of year for me). I am very proud of this plant - I will try to post a photo of the shoots this evening.
Name: Gary Ray
North Carolina (Zone 7b)
Feb 21, 2018 6:22 PM CST
My experience last spring was the itohs are very hearty. If you don't see any bloom buds yet you will be fine. The foilage can take the temps. Here is a picture for reassurance.

Thumb of 2018-02-22/graycrna4u/62e689

That was March, 2014. A tree peony already leafing out sticking out of the snow. The plant did fine that year. Itohs are more hearty and tree peonies. If it is below 20 degrees and you have bloom buds I would cover the plant. Make sure to take the cover off during the daylight hours. Good luck and hope this helps ease your mind.

Feb 23, 2018 9:25 AM CST
Thanks you both! I woke up to the temp at 24 this morning Sad we are having quite the cold snap. I've tented it for the past few days, but I wanted to share a picture. The weather should let up soon, I don't even want to think about what is going on with the younger tree and herbaceous peonies.... An excuse to try some new varieties at best.

Thumb of 2018-02-23/Slprice3/e3785e

This is the current situation this morning.
Thumb of 2018-02-23/Slprice3/4f3abd

And this was a few springs ago. The plant is at least 16 years old.

Thumb of 2018-02-23/Slprice3/c8e364

[Last edited by Slprice3 - Feb 23, 2018 9:27 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1646355 (5)
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing
Bulbs Region: Canadian Garden Ideas: Master Level Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Feb 23, 2018 9:41 AM CST
We use styrofoam rose huts to protect tender plants from late freezes. The dollar stores have styrofoam picnic coolers which work too.( up side down) I use these for transporting plants in cold weather too.
Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Feb 23, 2018 10:04 AM CST
The buds look to be ok to me. If they have been damaged, they would have become blackened. Also, eventhough the temps for your area maybe 24F, it looks like your tree peony is grown in a sheltered spot(a warmer microclimate), protected from winds and cold by your fence. As a result, your tree peony buds are safe from freezing. Had that TP grown in an open field with buds like that exposed to 24F, I think they would have been frozen and turned black or brown.
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader Irises
Hummingbirder Cat Lover Lilies Daylilies Dog Lover Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Feb 23, 2018 12:21 PM CST
At worst it might be a season setback, reduced blooming, but it's really rare to lose one completely to a single really cold winter. Oh, the joys of gardening, huh?

May 5, 2018 10:19 PM CST
Update: the bush made it. I did some last minute staking of one branch that did not work out well. I need to look into better pruning practices.
Thumb of 2018-05-06/Slprice3/026fd0

Thumb of 2018-05-06/Slprice3/75d9d7

Name: LG
Nashvillle (Zone 7a)
Peonies Hummingbirder Hostas Region: Tennessee Butterflies Garden Photography
May 6, 2018 3:48 AM CST
Great news! They really are pretty!
Thanks for the update. Hurray!
LG - My garden grows with love and a lot of hard work.
Name: Tracey
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
Forum moderator Hybridizer Tomato Heads Pollen collector Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Cat Lover
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Garden Photography Seed Starter Region: Wisconsin
May 6, 2018 7:20 AM CST


Your gardens look very nice. That's a long time to have had Cora Louise around, long before it became mass marketed and tissue cultured. Slprice3, have you ever divided it in that time?

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