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Growing Peonies in Alaska

"Growing Peonies in Alaska" by Judith Wilmarth

Flower Parts
Peony Types
Planting Your Peony

Flower Parts

The peony flower is composed of the following parts:

Sepals
The outer green covering of the bud, which is never transformed.

Petals
The colored leaves, of which there are five or more, depending on the type of flower.

Stamens
The male organs of the peony, consisting of the anthers, (the pollen sacs) and the filaments, which are hair-like bodies that support the anthers. The anthers are usually yellow, though the filaments may be other colors.

Carpels, or pistils
The female organs, that when impregnated, form seed pods and stigmas, the tips of the carpels, which receive the pollen. The carpels are usually some shade of green, but may turn to other colors with age. The stigmas are of many different colors, varying with each variety.

Discs
often appear as seed-like bodies of various colors around the base of the carpels, or a sheath surrounding the carpels as in some hybrid and tree peonies.

Peony Types

Click on thumbnails to see larger views of photos.

Single Peony
Japanese Peony
Semi-Double Peony
Double Peony
Itoh Peony

Planting Your Peony

A well planted peony can remain in one spot for 50 years or more.

Location:
          • Peonies prefer a sunny location, but will tolerate partial shade. Shady locations will also produce flowers, but it may take an additional
           1-2 years to become well established.

Planting Time:
          • Bare root peonies are best planted in the fall. This encourages a good root formation before the plants begin their top growth in
            the spring.
          • Leave 2" soil over the top-most eye.

Soil Type:
          • Plant in well drained soil! Peonies will not tolerate moisture settling around or near the crown. No wet feet!
          • A raised area (even up to 6") or a slight slope will extend the life and production of your peony.

Planting:
          • The planting hole should be at least 18" x 18"; 24" x 24" is better. (It is better to err on the shallow side than to plant too deeply!)
          • Preparing the planting hole in the spring will avoid any settling problems of the soil.
          • If planting in newly dug soil, plant the peony shallow, and heap the soil 6-8" above the eyes the first fall, and then remove any
            excess soil in the spring.
          • Leave 2" of the current years' stems on the root as a planting guide.
          • When removing soil in spring, the top of these stems should be at ground level.
          • Bone meal or aged compost should be placed in the bottom of the hole and covered with approximately 2" of top soil.
          • Any additives added to soil should be kept well away from the crown of the plants. Back fill the hole with garden soil, allowing
            room for roots.
          • Compact soil around the roots, using caution not to disturb the eyes (next spring's growth).

Amendments:
          • Wood ashes in the spring (after the new shoots appear) are helpful.
          • Aged compost (3-5 years) can be applied after the first weeding.
          • Lime and bone meal can be applied in the late summer before the rainy season begins. (In Anchorage, usually in August.)
          • Peonies prefer soils with a pH of around 6.

Links:
         • AlaskaPeonies.org
         • http://www.alaskabg.org/Education-Learn/HowTo/worldofpeonies.pdf

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