A photo of a colorful bouquet of cut peony flowers.

How to Grow Peonies from Seed: A Complete Guide

Peonies are one of the most beautiful and popular flowers in the world. They come in various colors, shapes, and sizes, and they can brighten up any garden or bouquet. But did you know that you can grow peonies from seed? Yes, you read that right. You can start your own peony plants from scratch, and enjoy the rewarding and satisfying experience of watching them grow and bloom.

In this article, we will show you how to grow peonies from seed, step by step. We will cover everything you need to know, from collecting and preparing the seeds, to germinating, transplanting, and caring for the seedlings, to dealing with common pests and diseases, to enjoying and sharing your peony flowers. By the end of this article, you will have all the information and skills you need to grow peonies from seed successfully.

Key Takeaways

  • You can grow peonies from seed by harvesting them from mature plants, cleaning and drying them, stratifying them in the refrigerator, sowing them in pots or trays, germinating them in a warm and moist environment, transplanting them to larger pots or garden beds, and caring for them as they grow and bloom.
  • Growing peonies from seed takes time and patience, as it can take several years for the plants to produce flowers. However, it is a rewarding and satisfying experience that allows you to create new varieties of peonies that are unique and original.
  • Peonies are hardy and adaptable plants that can thrive in various climates and soils. They prefer full sun or partial shade, well-drained and fertile soil, regular watering and fertilizing, occasional pruning and mulching, and protection from pests and diseases.
  • Peonies are stunning and versatile flowers that can be used for various purposes. You can cut them for bouquets or arrangements, preserve or dry them for crafts or decorations, or share them with friends, family, or community.

How to Collect and Prepare Peony Seeds

A photo of peony seed pods being collected from a plant

The first step to growing peonies from seed is to collect and prepare the seeds. Here is how to do it:

When and How to Harvest Peony Seeds

You can harvest peony seeds from mature plants that have produced flowers. The best time to do this is in late summer or early fall, when the seed pods have turned brown and started to crack open. You can use scissors or a knife to cut off the pods from the stems, or simply pull them off by hand.

How to Clean and Dry Peony Seeds

Once you have collected the pods, you need to clean and dry the seeds. You can do this by breaking open the pods and removing the seeds from the pulp. You can use a sieve or a colander to rinse off any dirt or debris from the seeds under running water. Then, you need to spread the seeds on a paper towel or a newspaper and let them dry in a cool and airy place for a few days.

How to Identify Different Types of Peony Seeds

Peony seeds come in different types depending on their color and shape. There are two main types of peony seeds: black seeds and pink seeds.

  • Black seeds are dark brown or black in color, round or oval in shape, and hard in texture. They are also known as true seeds, as they contain embryos that can grow into new plants.
  • Pink seeds are light brown or pink in color, irregular or kidney-shaped in shape, and soft in texture. They are also known as nurse seeds, as they contain nutrients that can support the growth of embryos in black seeds.

You can easily tell apart black seeds from pink seeds by looking at their appearance or by squeezing them between your fingers. Black seeds will remain firm while pink seeds will collapse.

How to Stratify Peony Seeds in the Refrigerator

The next step is to stratify peony seeds in the refrigerator. This means exposing them to cold temperatures for a period of time to simulate winter conditions. This is necessary because peony seeds have a natural dormancy mechanism that prevents them from germinating until they experience cold treatment.

To stratify peony seeds in the refrigerator, you need to do the following:

  • Mix both black seeds and pink seeds together in a plastic bag or a container with some moistened peat moss or vermiculite.
  • Seal the bag or container tightly and label it with the date and the name of the peony variety.
  • Place the bag or container in the refrigerator, preferably in the vegetable drawer, and leave it there for at least three months.

How to Germinate Peony Seeds

how to grow peonies from seed

After stratifying peony seeds in the refrigerator, the next step is to germinate them. This means sowing them in pots or trays and providing them with the right conditions for sprouting. Here is how to do it:

When and How to Sow Peony Seeds

You can sow peony seeds in late winter or early spring, when the seeds have completed their cold treatment. You can use small pots or trays filled with a sterile potting mix that is well-drained and slightly acidic. You can also add some perlite or sand to improve the drainage and aeration of the soil.

To sow peony seeds, you need to do the following:

  • Make small holes in the soil about half an inch deep and one inch apart.
  • Place one or two seeds in each hole and cover them lightly with soil.
  • Water the soil gently but thoroughly until it is moist but not soggy.
  • Label each pot or tray with the date and the name of the peony variety.

How to Provide the Ideal Conditions for Germination

Peony seeds need a warm and moist environment to germinate. You can place the pots or trays in a sunny windowsill, a greenhouse, or a heated propagator. You can also cover them with a clear plastic bag or a dome to create a mini greenhouse effect and retain moisture.

The optimal temperature for germination is between 65°F and 75°F (18°C and 24°C). The optimal light exposure is about 12 to 16 hours per day. The optimal ventilation is moderate and consistent, as too much or too little air circulation can cause fungal problems or damping off.

To provide the ideal conditions for germination, you need to do the following:

  • Check the soil moisture regularly and water as needed to keep it moist but not soggy.
  • Remove any condensation from the plastic bag or dome daily and wipe it dry.
  • Ventilate the pots or trays occasionally by opening the plastic bag or dome slightly or by placing them in a well-ventilated area for a few hours.
  • Monitor the seedlings for any signs of germination or problems.

How to Monitor and Care for Peony Seedlings

Peony seeds can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to germinate, depending on the variety and the conditions. Some seeds may not germinate at all, while others may germinate in batches over time. Therefore, you need to be patient and observant when growing peonies from seed.

The first sign of germination is usually a small white root emerging from the seed coat. This is followed by a green shoot that will grow into a leaf. The first leaf is usually round and simple, while the subsequent leaves are more lobed and compound.

To monitor and care for peony seedlings, you need to do the following:

  • Remove any ungerminated seeds or dead seedlings from the pots or trays to prevent mold or rot.
  • Transplant any overcrowded seedlings to separate pots or trays to give them more space and avoid competition.
  • Move the pots or trays to a cooler and shadier location once the seedlings have developed their first true leaves, as they are more sensitive to heat and light at this stage.
  • Fertilize the seedlings with a diluted liquid fertilizer once every two weeks to promote their growth and health.

How to Transplant and Grow Peony Seedlings

how to grow peonies from seed

After germinating peony seeds, the next step is to transplant and grow the seedlings. This means moving them to larger pots or garden beds and providing them with the optimal conditions for growth and flowering. Here is how to do it:

When and How to Transplant Peony Seedlings

You can transplant peony seedlings when they have developed at least three or four true leaves and a strong root system. This can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more, depending on the variety and the conditions.

You can transplant peony seedlings to larger pots or garden beds, depending on your preference and space availability. If you choose to grow them in pots, you need to use containers that are at least 12 inches in diameter and depth, with drainage holes at the bottom. If you choose to grow them in garden beds, you need to prepare the soil by digging, loosening, and amending it with organic matter such as compost or manure.

To transplant peony seedlings, you need to do the following:

  • Choose a location that receives full sun or partial shade, as peonies prefer at least six hours of sunlight per day.
  • Space the plants about two to three feet apart, as peonies need room to grow and spread.
  • Dig a hole that is twice as wide and deep as the root ball of the seedling.
  • Carefully remove the seedling from its original pot or tray by gently loosening the soil around the roots.
  • Place the seedling in the hole and adjust its height so that the crown (the point where the stem meets the roots) is about one inch below the soil surface.
  • Fill the hole with soil and press it firmly around the roots.
  • Water the plant well and add a layer of mulch around it to conserve moisture and prevent weeds.

How to Provide the Optimal Conditions for Growth and Flowering

Peony seedlings need regular care and attention to grow and flower well. You need to provide them with adequate water, fertilizer, pruning, mulch, and protection. Here is how to do it:

Water

Peonies need consistent moisture throughout their growing season, especially during hot and dry weather. You need to water them deeply and thoroughly once or twice a week, depending on the soil and weather conditions. You can use a soaker hose, a drip irrigation system, or a watering can to water them at the base of the plant, avoiding wetting the foliage. You can also check the soil moisture by inserting your finger into it. If it feels dry an inch below the surface, it is time to water.

Fertilizer

Peonies benefit from regular feeding during their growing season, especially in spring and summer. You need to fertilize them once a month with a balanced organic fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You can use a granular or liquid fertilizer that is specially formulated for flowering plants. You can also add some bone meal or fish emulsion to boost their blooming potential. You can apply the fertilizer according to the package directions, spreading it around the base of the plant and watering it well.

Pruning

Peonies do not require much pruning, except for removing dead, diseased, or damaged stems and leaves. You can also deadhead (remove) spent flowers to encourage more blooms and prevent seed formation. You can do this by cutting off the flower stem just below the first set of leaves. You can also cut back some of the foliage in late summer or early fall to improve air circulation and reduce disease risk. However, you should leave some leaves intact until they turn yellow or brown in late fall or early winter. Then, you can cut them off at ground level and dispose of them properly.

Mulch

Mulching is an important practice for peonies, as it helps retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, moderate soil temperature, and enrich soil fertility. You need to apply a layer of organic mulch such as straw, pine needles, bark chips, or shredded leaves around the base of the plant in spring and fall. You should avoid piling up too much mulch on top of the crown, as this can cause rotting or suffocation.

Protection

Peonies are generally hardy and resilient plants that can withstand various pests and diseases. However, they may still encounter some problems such as aphids, thrips, spider mites, ants, powdery mildew, botrytis blight, leaf spot, stem rot, crown rot, or root rot. To protect your peonies from these problems, you need to do the following:

  • Monitor your plants regularly for any signs of infestation or infection.
  • Use organic or chemical methods to prevent or control them as soon as possible.
  • Maintain good hygiene by removing and disposing of any affected plant parts.
  • Avoid overhead watering, overcrowding, or overfertilizing your plants.
  • Provide adequate sun, water, and air circulation for your plants.

How to Deal with Common Pests and Diseases of Peonies

A photo showing examples of damage on peony plants from pests and diseases

Peonies are generally hardy and resilient plants that can withstand various pests and diseases. However, they may still encounter some problems such as aphids, thrips, spider mites, ants, powdery mildew, botrytis blight, leaf spot, stem rot, crown rot, or root rot. In this section, we will explain what are the main pests and diseases that affect peonies and how to identify and control them.

Aphids

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that suck the sap from the stems and leaves of peonies. They can cause stunted growth, distorted leaves, yellowing, wilting, or curling. They can also transmit viral diseases or attract other pests such as ants or sooty mold.

To identify aphids, you need to look for clusters of tiny green, black, yellow, or pink bugs on the undersides of the leaves or on the flower buds. You may also see sticky honeydew or black sooty mold on the affected parts.

To control aphids, you need to do the following:

  • Spray the plants with a strong jet of water to dislodge and wash off the aphids.
  • Use insecticidal soap, neem oil, or horticultural oil to kill the aphids on contact.
  • Introduce beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, or parasitic wasps to feed on the aphids.
  • Remove and dispose of any infested plant parts.

Thrips

Thrips are tiny, slender insects that feed on the flowers and leaves of peonies. They can cause brown spots, streaks, or scars on the petals or foliage. They can also reduce the quality and quantity of the blooms.

To identify thrips, you need to look for small black or yellow bugs on the flowers or leaves. You may also see white or black specks of their excrement or shed skins on the affected parts.

To control thrips, you need to do the following:

  • Prune and discard any damaged flowers or leaves.
  • Use sticky traps to capture and monitor the thrips population.
  • Use insecticidal soap, neem oil, or horticultural oil to kill the thrips on contact.
  • Introduce beneficial insects such as predatory mites or pirate bugs to feed on the thrips.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are microscopic arachnids that feed on the sap from the undersides of the leaves of peonies. They can cause yellowing, browning, speckling, or stippling of the foliage. They can also spin fine webs on the affected parts.

To identify spider mites, you need to look for tiny red, green, yellow, or brown dots on the undersides of the leaves. You may also see fine webs or silk threads on the affected parts.

To control spider mites, you need to do the following:

  • Spray the plants with a strong jet of water to dislodge and wash off the spider mites.
  • Use insecticidal soap, neem oil, or horticultural oil to kill the spider mites on contact.
  • Introduce beneficial insects such as predatory mites or ladybugs to feed on the spider mites.
  • Avoid overwatering or overfertilizing your plants, as this can create favorable conditions for spider mites.

Ants

Ants are not directly harmful to peonies, but they can be a nuisance or a sign of other problems. Ants are attracted to peonies by their sweet nectar or by aphid honeydew. They can crawl on the flowers or leaves and disturb their appearance. They can also protect aphids from their natural enemies or carry them to other plants.

To identify ants, you need to look for small black, brown, red, or yellow insects on the flowers or leaves. You may also see ant trails or nests near your plants.

To control ants, you need to do the following:

  • Control aphids by using any of the methods mentioned above.
  • Cut off any flower buds that have ants inside them and dispose of them properly.
  • Use ant baits or traps to lure and kill the ants.
  • Use diatomaceous earth (DE), boric acid (BA), or cinnamon powder (CP) to create a barrier around your plants that will repel or kill ants.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects peonies in humid or shady conditions. It causes white or gray powdery patches on the leaves and stems. It can reduce photosynthesis and weaken the plant’s vigor.

To identify powdery mildew, you need to look for white or gray powdery patches on the leaves and stems. You may also see yellowing or browning of the affected parts.

To control powdery mildew, you need to do the following:

  • Prune and discard any infected plant parts.
  • Increase air circulation and sunlight around your plants by thinning or spacing them properly.
  • Avoid overhead watering or wetting the foliage, as this can spread the spores or create favorable conditions for the fungus.
  • Use fungicides such as sulfur, copper, or baking soda to prevent or treat the infection.

Botrytis Blight

Botrytis blight is another fungal disease that affects peonies in cool or wet conditions. It causes brown spots, lesions, or rot on the flower buds, petals, stems, or leaves. It can also cause the buds to fail to open or the flowers to drop prematurely.

To identify botrytis blight, you need to look for brown spots, lesions, or rot on the flower buds, petals, stems, or leaves. You may also see gray fuzzy mold on the affected parts.

To control botrytis blight, you need to do the following:

  • Prune and discard any infected plant parts.
  • Increase air circulation and sunlight around your plants by thinning or spacing them properly.
  • Avoid overhead watering or wetting the foliage, as this can spread the spores or create favorable conditions for the fungus.
  • Use fungicides such as copper, mancozeb, or chlorothalonil to prevent or treat the infection.

Leaf Spot

Leaf spot is a general term for various fungal or bacterial diseases that cause spots on the leaves of peonies. The spots can be red, brown, black, yellow, or purple in color and vary in size and shape. They can reduce photosynthesis and weaken the plant’s vigor.

To identify leaf spot, you need to look for spots on the leaves of peonies. You may also see yellowing or browning of the affected parts.

To control leaf spot, you need to do the following:

  • Prune and discard any infected plant parts.
  • Increase air circulation and sunlight around your plants by thinning or spacing them properly.
  • Avoid overhead watering or wetting the foliage, as this can spread the spores or create favorable conditions for the pathogens.
  • Use fungicides such as copper, mancozeb, or chlorothalonil to prevent or treat the infection.

Stem Rot

Stem rot is a fungal disease that affects peonies in wet or poorly drained soils. It causes blackening, softening, or wilting of the stems at the soil level. It can also cause yellowing or drooping of the leaves. It can kill the plant if left untreated.

To identify stem rot, you need to look for blackening, softening, or wilting of the stems at the soil level. You may also see yellowing or drooping of the leaves.

To control stem rot, you need to do the following:

  • Remove and destroy any infected plants.
  • Improve soil drainage and aeration by adding organic matter such as compost or manure.
  • Avoid overwatering or overfertilizing your plants, as this can create favorable conditions for the fungus.
  • Use fungicides such as copper, mancozeb, or chlorothalonil to prevent or treat the infection.

Crown Rot

Crown rot is a fungal disease that affects peonies in wet or poorly drained soils. It causes blackening, softening, or rotting of the crown (the point where the stem meets the roots) and the roots. It can also cause yellowing or wilting of the leaves. It can kill the plant if left untreated.

To identify crown rot, you need to look for blackening, softening, or rotting of the crown and the roots. You may also see yellowing or wilting of the leaves.

To control crown rot, you need to do the following:

  • Remove and destroy any infected plants.
  • Improve soil drainage and aeration by adding organic matter such as compost or manure.
  • Avoid overwatering or overfertilizing your plants, as this can create favorable conditions for the fungus.
  • Use fungicides such as copper, mancozeb, or chlorothalonil to prevent or treat the infection.

Root Rot

Root rot is a fungal disease that affects peonies in wet or poorly drained soils. It causes browning, softening, or rotting of the roots. It can also cause stunted growth, yellowing, wilting, or drooping of the leaves. It can kill the plant if left untreated.

To identify root rot, you need to look for browning, softening, or rotting of the roots. You may also see stunted growth, yellowing, wilting, or drooping of the leaves.

To control root rot, you need to do the following:

  • Remove and destroy any infected plants.
  • Improve soil drainage and aeration by adding organic matter such as compost or man

How to Enjoy and Share Your Peony Flowers

A photo of a colorful bouquet of cut peony flowers

After growing peonies from seed, the last step is to enjoy and share your peony flowers. This means cutting, preserving, or drying them for various purposes. Here is how to do it:

When and How to Cut Peony Flowers

You can cut peony flowers for bouquets or arrangements when they are in full bloom or slightly before. The best time to do this is in the early morning or evening, when the temperature is cooler and the flowers are more hydrated. You can use sharp scissors or a knife to cut the stems at an angle, leaving at least two or three leaves on the plant. You can also remove any foliage that will be submerged in water.

To cut peony flowers, you need to do the following:

  • Choose healthy and fresh flowers that have no signs of pests or diseases.
  • Cut the stems at an angle about 12 to 18 inches long, depending on your preference and vase size.
  • Remove any foliage that will be submerged in water to prevent rotting or bacterial growth.
  • Place the cut flowers in a bucket of lukewarm water with some floral preservative or sugar and vinegar.
  • Let the flowers hydrate for a few hours or overnight in a cool and dark place.

How to Preserve or Dry Peony Flowers

You can preserve or dry peony flowers for crafts or decorations by using various methods such as air drying, pressing, silica gel, glycerin, or microwave. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the desired result and the available materials.

To preserve or dry peony flowers, you need to do the following:

  • Choose healthy and fresh flowers that have no signs of pests or diseases.
  • Remove any foliage from the stems and petals.
  • Select a method that suits your preference and purpose.
MethodDescriptionProsCons
Air dryingHanging the flowers upside down in a dark, dry, and well-ventilated place for several weeks until they are completely dry.Easy, cheap, naturalSlow, may lose color or shape
PressingPlacing the flowers between sheets of paper or cardboard and applying weight or heat for several days until they are flat and dry.Easy, cheap, compactMay lose color or texture
Silica gelBurying the flowers in a container of silica gel crystals that absorb moisture for several days until they are dry.Fast, preserves color and shapeExpensive, messy, toxic
GlycerinSoaking the stems of the flowers in a solution of glycerin and water for several weeks until they absorb the liquid and become soft and pliable.Preserves texture and flexibilityMay change color or smell
MicrowavePlacing the flowers in a microwave-safe container with some silica gel crystals and heating them for a few minutes until they are dry.Very fast, preserves color and shapeExpensive, risky, may burn

How to Share Your Peony Flowers

You can share your peony flowers with friends, family, or community by giving them as gifts, donating them to charities, or selling them at markets. You can also use them for various occasions such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays. You can also join online forums or social media groups where you can exchange tips, ideas, or experiences with other peony enthusiasts.

To share your peony flowers, you need to do the following:

  • Choose healthy and fresh flowers that have no signs of pests or diseases.
  • Cut and hydrate them properly as described above.
  • Arrange them in bouquets, vases, baskets, wreaths, garlands, corsages, boutonnieres, or any other way you like.
  • Add some ribbons, tags, cards, or labels to personalize them.
  • Deliver them to your recipients or customers with care and love.

Conclusion

Growing peonies from seed is a rewarding and satisfying experience that allows you to create new varieties of peonies that are unique and original. It is also a fun and educational activity that you can enjoy with your family or friends. By following this complete guide on how to grow peonies from seed, you will be able to successfully grow peonies from seed step by step. You will also be able to enjoy and share your peony flowers with others.

We hope you found this article helpful and informative. If you have any questions or comments about growing peonies from seed, please feel free to leave them below. We would love to hear from you.

About The Author

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Samantha
Samantha

I'm Samantha, a plant enthusiast who has been growing plants for years. I believe that plants can make our lives better, both physically and mentally. I started growit.wiki to share my knowledge about how to grow plants. I want to help others enjoy the beauty and benefits of plants.

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