Tree Peony Splurge

I absolutely love peonies.

They are one of my all-time favorite flowers.  I had hoped that when we finally found an apartment with yard space it would be sunny enough for a peony, but alas…the four large fig trees in the yard create a lot of shade come mid-summer – too much for a herbaceous peony to be happy and thrive.  (Tough problem to have, I know.  The figs were a totally unexpected bonus.)

After doing some research last fall I discovered that – lo and behold – tree peonies (which I’d never heard of before) can tolerate a healthy serving of shade!

I think I prefer herbaceous peonies, but I’ve come to really appreciate the tree peonies that I have seen and hey – I’m grateful to have a variety that can live in our yard!

So, I splurged on a tree peony at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Annual Member Plant Sale earlier this month.

The information on the container it came in didn’t seem to be correct (totally different color), so I don’t have the specific variety name, unfortunately.  The volunteer staff on hand didn’t know either, so I guess the peony falls into my mystery category.  It’s either Chinese or Japanese, and it’s definitely at least a few years old.

It was blooming and I expressed my concern about transplanting it while in bloom, but I was assured by a BBG staff member that she transplanted hers when it was in bloom and it was just fine.  (Let’s hope she’s right.) She said she has three tree peonies and that she gets mostly shade and they are all happy.  Wow.  Evidently “bright indirect light” works for them.

The one I chose is a real show-stopper and a total departure from my usual calm, cool blues and purples or the soft, romantic creams and light pinks that I usually prefer.

 Kind of gorgeous, isn’t it?

 This color really packs some serious punch!

  I’m hoping the round peony support stake I just ordered will arrive SOON – those heads are heavy!

  I know it will only bloom for a couple of weeks each spring, but wow…it sure makes a statement while it does!

I was in a hurry to take pictures – this one’s a little fuzzy – shoot.

Here it is after being transplanted into its new home.

I’m hoping it will be happy here, have enough sun, shade, room, etc. There are other places I could move it too if doesn’t seem to like this spot, but I’m very reluctant to do so after having just transplanted it here. I’d like to wait until at least next year and see how it fares.

The flower petals are now all falling off and the plant looks a little “wilty” over all. I am resisting temptation to give it too much water, as I’ve read that they do not like wet feet. I’m just going to take it day by day and see what happens, but I’m sure hoping this one will make it!

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14 thoughts on “Tree Peony Splurge

  1. Funny I have one planted in a sunny sometimes wet spot and it grew from a stick to a 2 X 2 ft bush and we shall see this yr…large magenta heads that did not flop…they are stunning…hope yours does well…I’ll let you know how mine is doing since every thing is so delayed this year…

  2. Hi Donna, yes – everything is indeed delayed this year!

    I’m glad to hear that yours is doing okay in a sunny spot…the place where I’ve chosen to put this one receives a lot of sun right now because the fig trees have not yet filled out (and probably won’t for another month, I’m guessing?)

    I’m a little worried about the heavy heads…the plants seems kind of delicate, but I have read that they are much sturdier than they appear.

    Do you support yours? Have you prune it at all? I’ll have to stop over to your blog to look for photos of yours.

  3. Oooh, it’s gorgeous! What an awesome splurge!! I love peonies too. Since moving here to our new house a year and 1/2 ago, I’ve planted 7 peony plants. You can say, I’m a little obsessed with them!!

    I bought a rose bush from BBG last year and this year it seems like it’s not going to make it. Which is a bit disappointing. Of my 8 rose bushes, it’s the only one that didn’t survive. I wonder why that is, you would think the quality would be better. (sigh)

    • Seven peonies! Amazing! I’d do the same if I had the room / light for them.

      You know, I have to say I was not all that impressed with the BBG sale. Granted it’s a huge event to have to manage and staff, but I expected there to be a better variety of perennial plants and more staff on hand to be able to answer questions. There were a couple of really knowledgeable staff, but not as many as I would have thought. A lot of the plants seemed to be mislabeled as well.

      So far everything I got from them is doing well, knock on wood! The tree peony is the only thing I spent a chunk of money on, and of course it’s the one thing that seems to be in the “please let it survive” category.

  4. This plant is on my most wanted list too, Love them!! Your photos are stunning, what huge, beautiful blooms…oh I just love it and am so happy you shared!! I am crossing my fingers it picks up soon and is happy in its new home =)

    • Thanks! It’s very exciting, but I feel a bit like someone just handed me an baby and I have no idea what to do with it! I keep checking on it and looking at it and coddling it…I’m even talking to it. Yes, I am.

      After having seen it in bloom, I really REALLY want to do right by this amazing plant and keep it healthy and happy so that I get to see those incredible blooms again next year and every year.

  5. Near Quakertown, PA, there is an gentleman named Michael Hsu who specializes in Chinese Tree Peonies, as in acres of them – 600 varieties. “PeonyLand”

    He was written up in the newspaper and in Country Gardens magazine in 2003.

    Best of all, my brother-in-law Rick does regular painting work for this guy. He loves Rick!

    I am trying to get a visit/introduction arranged. I think the nursery is open by appointment only.

    I am sad to confess I do not have one inch of free space left for something like this in my garden! I would have to chuck something to make room. I may be enticed to do so.

  6. Stunning. Oh my goodness.
    I had never heard of tree peonies before today, and yours is the second blog posting I have seen about them. I have 3 of the “regular” kind…and would love more. Lots of farmhouses around here have a long, long hedge of peonies, and I would dearly like to recreate that.
    Your tree peony though, is quite beautiful!

  7. Update on PeonyLand in Richlandtown, PA from the 5/15 post …. Michael Hsu says his nursery is now closed to the public.

    His tree peonies have been in bloom awhile and another hard rain (in progress as we speak) will shatter the blossoms.

    He agreed to let me in to see them, because it was my brother in law Rick who was asking, but would not agree to sell me any. (!)

    I thanked Rick and Michael and gracefully declined. A day late and a dollar short.

    There must be more to this story.

    • Bev, I remember you mentioning this guy last year. It’s too bad he is closed to the public (and that he won’t sell any!) I’m sure he must have an amazing collection. My blooms were short lived but lovely while they were here! The plant overall seems to have improved and -knock on wood- I think it’s doing okay!

  8. Pingback: Peonies and tree peony « Community Acupuncturist : Making Health Affordable

  9. What is the best time and way to transplant a tree peony? I have two that are about 5 years old and getting to big where they are .

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