Prairie Yard & Garden: Peonies

(soft piano music) – [Voiceover] Prairie Yard
and Garden is a production of the University
of Minnesota, Morris in cooperation with
Pioneer Public Television. Funding for Prairie
Yard and Garden is provided in part by
Heartland Motor Company providing service
for over 30 years in the heart of truck country. Heartland Motor Company. We have your best
interest at heart. Farmers Mutual Telephone Company and Federated
Telephone Cooperative proud to be powering Acira. Mark and Margaret Yackel-Juleen in honor of Shalom Hill Farm a non-profit rural
education retreat center in a beautiful prairie setting near Windom in
southwestern Minnesota. – In 1923, my husband’s
grandparents got married and settled on their farm
near St. James, Minnesota. Shortly after, Grandma Minnie planted a long row of red,
pink and white peonies right next to her clothes line. Well, it’s almost a
hundred years later and the farm buildings and
clothes line are long gone. But that row of
peonies still remains. I’m Mary Holm, with
Prairie Yard and Garden and join us today as
we learn all about this durable, hardy and easy-to-grow
perennial called the peony. (soft lively music) One of my favorite jobs
is delivering flowers to the cemetery
for Memorial Day. It gives me a special chance
to remember friends and family and to see the beautiful peonies that are almost
always in bloom there. I really do love peonies, but
today we are going to visit with Jill Stevens, who
takes a love of peonies to a whole new level. Welcome, Jill. – Oh, thank you,
Mary for coming. I’m glad to show you my peonies. – How did you get
started loving peonies? – Well, like you, my
grandmother grew peonies and she used them
as a dividing line between the house
and the field area to keep grandpa from driving
his tractor on the lawn. – (laughing) My next question is what is the correct
pronunciation? I have heard Pee-Uh-Nee and I’ve heard Pee-Oh-Nee so which is the
right way to say it? – Well, Mary, I just
came back from the National American
Peony Convention and I heard it both ways
consistently, so whatever. – Okay, so both
are correct, okay. Um, what are the
different kinds of peony? I would have thought that
there was just kind of red, pink and white but
there’s many different kinds not just colors. – Yeah, you have
your single peony which is a single row
of petals, generally nine to 15 petals per flower. And then you have your
semi-double, which then after 15 petals becomes– they encircle and form
more than one row. And then you have your double,
which is nice and full. You have your Japanese
peony, which is a single row of petals with
a little tuft in the middle. And then you have
your bomb form, too which is kinda
similar to a double but it’s like, has, uh… ice cream, a scoop of
ice cream on the petals. But there are three types of forms of peonies. You have your
woody, or tree peony and they bloom
early in the season. And you have your
regular herbaceous peony where the foliage dies
back to the ground in the fall. You cut it down to the
ground and it dies. You also have your
intersectional peony which is a cross
between a tree peony and a herbaceous peony,
and they’re relatively a new bird, and so far
they’ve been mostly sterile. They cannot reproduce. – [Mary] How many
varieties of peonies do you have in your yard? – Well, Mary, I’m afraid
to admit it but (laughs) I have over 700 varieties
of peonies in my yard and my list is growing. I have some on the way. Best place to get
a peony is from a reputable
hybridizer or somebody who specializes in peonies only. That way, you’re sure to get
a good plant without disease and a plant that
is true to name. If you get a plant
from a box store you don’t know, really,
what you’re getting. It could be tissue culture,
which is bad in the peony world. There’s a chance it won’t
be true to the name. It could be a seedling. You know, if you’re out for just having a peony,
you know, go for it. But if you are– want one specifically
for color or shape or whatever, go to
the reputable dealers. There are five really
good reputable breeders in the state of Minnesota,
so you got a good selection of reputable breeders
right here in Minnesota. – [Mary] How do
you keep track of all of the different
varieties that you have? – [Jill] I’m a 4-H girl and I
learned to keep good records back in 4-H and I literally
keep a sheet for each peony. So I walk through everyday and I will check off if
the peony is blooming. I will count the number of
primary buds on the peony to see if it’s
increasing or decreasing. I will note anything that
I should keep my eye on like if I’m having a
problem with a fungus or bud blast or anything,
I’ll make a note of that. And I’ll even mark the
number of days that the peony is blooming, so I
know if a peony is long-lasting or if it’s a short-lived peony. Then if people ask me, “Well,
my peony only blooms a day,” well, I can say, “Well, my peony
blooms for this many days.” The average peony does bloom,
here, for about nine days. – [Mary] About how long
is your blooming season? – [Jill] The peony season
can last seven weeks. If the weather cooperates, if
you have a nice, long spring and a nice, cool summer, we
can get it to last eight weeks. – [Mary] Do you
fertilize your peonies? – [Jill] I like to fertilize
my peonies in April and August the two A months, with a
time release fertilizer. No muss, no fuss,
just a little scoop. I’ll use either
10-10-10 or 14-14-14. Seems to work really well
and that’s about all I do. – [Mary] Are there any
insect or disease problems that you notice
with your peonies? – [Jill] Well, this year we
have a few things going on. There’s a little
chlorosis, which is when the peony gets a little yellow
and with the green veins. A little sign of
a little high pH with a little too much rain. And they probably just
need a little iron to get them to green up again. I just noticed this morning
that I’m just starting to get a little powdery
mildew on one plant. Starts out with
like a little star little white stars on them. And powdery mildew is not
harmful to the peony just… when we get in those humid
days of July and August they’ll just start to get
that powdery mildew and won’t hurt your peony,
just looks a little ugly. You can try to
catch that early by spraying a little
fungicide on it and slow it down a little bit. – Do you stake up or put
cages around your peonies to help hold them up? – Generally, no. I use the fence for
that, I have a fence. So if they slide against the
fence, the fence holds them up. I do have a cage
around one peony. It happens to be my
grandmother’s peony. My husband put it there. It was special to him,
so just one is caged up. Sometimes if there’s
a special one I have one called
Garden Peace, it flops. But I really, really like the
flower, so I put a stake down and then I take my
peony, I gather it up and I tie it up with a string. But other than that, I
don’t do much staking. – [Mary] Would you
be willing to show us some of your favorite varieties? – [Jill] Oh, of course. (both laughing) (soft piano music) This is Bartzella, this
is an intersectional peony and when it first came out a plant cost 3,000 dollars. But now you can find one
for under 50 dollars. – [Mary] Wow, but the
color is beautiful. – [Jill] It is a nice color and I think that’s what
everybody likes about it. And believe or not,
they are improving the color as we speak. There’s a lot of leaps and bounds on
hybridizing right now. – [Mary] That is just
such a beautiful yellow. It’s just amazing. And then what’s this one, here? – [Jill] That one is also
an intersectional peony. That one is called Unique. And the color is
really nice on that one and plus it’s got the red stems. – [Mary] And it’s got a
beautiful flower on it, too. Beautiful color. – [Jill] Yeah, and
it’s got a few flares on the inside that you
could probably notice that. A little darker flare,
it’s got its color and then the color is
deepening on the inside. – [Mary] And what is that one? The size of the
flowers on that peony are bigger than my hand,
even if I spread it as wide as I can, the
flowers are bigger than… than my fingers spread out. – [Jill] Yeah, that
one is called Queenbee and it is a nice one. It’s got nice tuft in the
middle, it’s got your staminoids on the outside, the yellow part. And a nice, full flower. – After some of the
peonies are done blooming they will form seed
pods sometimes. In fact, there’s one
right next to us, here. – [Jill] Yeah, Mary, this is
a nice example of a seed pod. This is done flowering. And the home gardener,
if it wants to put its– have the plant put its energy
in the flowers for next year you can cut it off at
the first set of leaves. If you wanna collect seeds and
try growing your own peonies you can wait ’til
somewhere between August and October
and there will be seeds in here that you
can harvest and plant. If you plant them right
away, not too complicated. If you save them over winter,
there’s a little bit involved. But what’s interesting about
the plant that you picked, Mary is that last year I had
people from all over the world literally all over the world,
wanting seeds from this plant. This is Ophia, and apparently
it’s a pretty rare one that I– I didn’t know that
when I bought it. I liked it for its red flowers. But I literally had
people from Romania and the Netherlands asking
for seeds from this one. – Really? So, they actually
will form viable seeds if you leave the pods on? – In most cases,
if you get seeds there will be some viable
ones in there, mm-hmm. – I didn’t realize that. I always thought that you should
clip them off all the time. – Well, you know,
if you want flowers good ones next year, you
should clip them off. – Okay. I had somebody ask me
that after the peonies are done blooming, should
you clip the whole plant off at that time? Like, now, at this
time of the year should a person
clip this one down? – This time of year, I would
clip the seed pods off. In the fall, I would– before winter comes,
I would clip them off as far to the ground as you can. Collect the leaves and
put them in the garbage. So you don’t spread disease. Peonies are susceptible
to many fungal diseases and by disposing of
the leaves rather than composting them you will save
a lot of disease problems. – [Mary] That is a
wonderful seed pod. A very interesting seed pod. I enjoy seeing that. – [Jill] Well, Mary, if you
think that’s interesting I have another interesting
one to show you over here. (soft piano music) This is a cactus
flowering peony. It’s called a cactus flowering
because it has kind of the crazy-shaped petals. And this particular cultivar
is called Scatterbrain. – [Mary] The peony
right next to us has a beautiful unique color. – [Jill] Yeah, this peony
is called Carol and for– it is a long blooming plant. It starts out like this,
and it looks like this for maybe two weeks and you think,
“Ew, that’s an ugly peony.” But then, one day,
you’ll get a nice one bursting open. And there are probably
better ones to look at here. This is a nicer one to look at. Nice, full flower. – [Mary] Wow. It is beautiful and the
color is just wonderful. – [Jill] It is a nice color. There are very unique
colors in peonies and that’s really what
I like about peonies is the many different colors. – Speaking of colors,
when we walked in I saw one that you have
to tell me what it is. It is absolutely beautiful. But we need to go and find it. – [Jill] Well, yeah,
you’ll have to show me which one that is.
– Okay. (laughing) (soft piano music) – Okay, Mary, before
you show me the one that you were talking
about, I’m gonna show you a couple of my favorites. And this is an
intersectional peony and this one is called
Watermelon Wine. And it’s kind of got a nice dark pink color and it’s got dark
flares in the middle. And it’s got a little sheath right here around the peony,
a little pinkish sheath. And it’s got the nice
anthers and filaments. – [Mary] By the flare,
do you mean this color right at the base? – Yeah.
– Right there? – Oh.
– Kind of a nice flare. – [Jill] Little darker
color than the rest of it. – [Mary] That is beautiful. No wonder you like it so much. – And right next to it, Mary, is I have to say, my very favorite. People will wonder why
it’s my very favorite. (Mary laughs) Hard to say. But this one is
called Orange Glory and it is the closest thing
to orange that I have. It’s a very unique
color in my garden. You know, most people would
walk right by this one but I really enjoy the color. It’s a nice little single. – [Mary] It is, really– that is a unique color. Very unique color, you’re right. When you said, yeah,
single has the fewer petals around the outside.
– Right, yeah. – [Jill] Generally
nine to 15 petals. (soft piano music) – This is the one
that caught my eye as soon as we got out of the
vehicle and started to walk and look at your peonies. – Yeah, this is an
interesting one, Mary. This one is called Coral Charm and it blooms in stages. The first color you will see is a nice dark color coral. This one is just
starting to open. And then when it’s in its prime it’ll be nice and coral. And then it turns
almost a yellow color before the end. – [Mary] Does this one
bloom for quite a while? – [Jill] This one blooms
for quite a while. You got quite a long
life cycle in this one. And this one is
becoming real popular for weddings and cut flowers. People really enjoy the
variety of shades in this one. This is a real popular one. – [Mary] When people
visit your garden is this one that they
notice right away? – [Jill] This is the
one everybody notices. – Okay.
– Yes, it is. And it fits real
nice on the fence and you can see
it from both ways. It’s just a nice one. – [Mary] You had mentioned that
it’s nice to have the fence to help support the flowers,
and even on a windy day it still looks very,
very nice here. – [Jill] Yes, it does, Mary. I enjoy having the fence
hold up my flowers for me. It does all the work. (soft piano music) – [Mary] Jill, this
is the one that I saw when we were down looking at
one of the other varieties and it’s so unique. – Yeah, this one is
called Pink Patterns, Mary and you mentioned
that you thought it reminded you of a tulip. And the inside is
really nice, too. It’s got kind of a speckle
defect on the outside. – [Mary] And it’s
got those cupped flower petals like a tulip. – [Jill] Yeah, I think
it’s my new favorite. (both laughing) Wow, it is a nice one. It’s very nice. (soft piano music) – I have a question. A friend of mine recommended that I grow some native
plants in my yard. What would be the
benefit of doing that? – There is a lot of value
to growing native plants. First off, they come in a
quite of an array of color and display, a lot
of them can rival. A lot of our bedding
plants for beauty such as cardinal flower
and butterfly weed they’re just beautiful
plants to have. And not only are they beautiful but they also benefit the
native insect population because the insects… they use them as host plants
and pollinator plants. And beyond that the water that they require,
they’re already used to the rainfall that we get here. So there really isn’t
a lot of maintenance that goes into
growing native plants. After they’re established unlike a lot of our
cultivated plants you can really just let
them be on their own and do their thing. Another benefit to growing
native plants, of course, is that they’re hardy. There’s a lot of plants
that you find in catalogs and you think
they’re so beautiful but you never know quite
if they’re gonna make it through the winter or not. So, with native plants
there’s no need to worry about whether or not they’re gonna
make it because they’re perfectly adapted to
our situations here. And, you know, another thing
is, that is, the pollinators. With bees, the way
they’re declining and monarchs, the
way they’re declining it’s important to
have plants that are a refugium for these insects so that they can keep
on keeping us happy. – [Voiceover] Ask
the Arboretum Experts has been brought to you by the
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen, dedicated
to enriching lives through the appreciation
and knowledge of plants. – [Mary] Jill, you call
this your nursery area. Explain what this is. – Well, these are the plants
that I divided last year and these are the new ones
that I ordered last year. These are the newest
plants in here and I try to plant them
four feet on center so you know that there’s
a nice wide space here between the peonies. You might think at
this stage of the game that they’re too far
apart, but they will grow and they’ll grow together. And you wanna usually plant
them about four feet apart. They need a lot
of air circulation to help prevent fungal diseases. And I feel that if
they’re far enough apart you can enjoy the
peony individually. In the fall I will come
in here with my sheers that has been bleached, so
I don’t spread any diseases and I will come in here
and I will cut these down to the ground, and I will
dispose of those in the garbage. Herbaceous peonies and
intersectional peonies are treated the same way. You wanna cut them as close
to the ground as possible. When they’re a little younger I give them a little
bit more stemmage so I can find them in
the spring next time. Well, tree peonies I do… do a little bit
differently in the fall. I usually just let them go to bed on their own. And I do not trim them back. Usually, however, the rabbits
come by and do the job for me. And so the rabbits usually
knock them back to the ground in the fall, but they
come back in the spring. If the rabbits would
leave them alone the tree peonies could
get as tall as you or me. But the rabbits like to eat
tree peonies in the winter. – [Mary] Do you have
any trouble with deer? – [Jill] Once in a while,
Mary, a deer will come by and a deer will take the bud. And he will eat it,
and he won’t like it and he’ll spit it out. And he might even move
on to another plant take a bite and spit it out. You know, you’d think
they would learn that peonies do not taste good. But every once in a while
a deer will come by and take a nibble. – One more thing that I
wanted to ask, to go back, is how do you divide the peonies? – Well, I like to
use a tiling shovel. And I will work my
way around the peony ’til it gets nice and loose and I will pull the
whole thing out. I will remove any
roots that are damaged or that are petrified,
little hard. And I will whittle it down
to the best-looking roots and then I will re-plant around about the size of
my hand in the ground. And the rest of the peony I
will either share or discard. – [Mary] Do you use a
shovel, then, to cut it or do you have a knife that you
use to cut the chunk itself? – [Jill] I generally use
a knife to divide it. Sometimes you’ll find
a peony that just naturally breaks
in the right spot. If you don’t have a full root,
just cut off any bad parts. It’ll come back. – [Mary] Then how deep
should you plant it when you put it back
into the ground? – When you put a peony
back in the ground you wanna make sure the eyes
are less than two inches below the surface of the ground. Any more than two inches below
the surface of the ground and your peony might not bloom. – You know, I’ve had
some people say that “Oh, my peony doesn’t bloom.” So, they maybe
planted them too deep? – They maybe planted
them too deep. Or, you know, like, in a case
of a hundred-year-old peony you know, the dirt just
probably blown in, covered it up gotten it a little deeper. Sometimes you can just
brush the dirt away so it’s less than two inches and sometimes you just need
to lift them up a little bit. – [Mary] Oh, that’s
good to know. And when is the best time
to divide the peonies? – The best time to divide
peonies is in the fall when the roots go dormant. My general rule is Labor Day is a good time to start
lifting your peonies. And if you order peonies
from a reputable company they will generally
send them to you around Labor Day or later. But reality does set in there and sometimes it
isn’t always possible. For example, my daughter
just moved three weeks ago but she had some
heirloom peonies she wanted to take with her. So, when they are young,
when they are less than six inches tall, if
you are real gentle you can move them with ease. Otherwise, if you
have to move them at any other time of the year just go right ahead and
do that, but expect a year to three years of no blooms. – [Mary] They’re a
wonderful thing to pass down from generation to
generation, aren’t they? – [Jill] They are, but I was
grateful that my daughter was really concerned about
continuing the tradition and keeping the
peonies with her. – [Mary] I was at a church meal oh, about two-three years ago and it was in July. And they had all sorts of
peony vases on the table and this was in July. How did they have peony
blooms at that time? – [Jill] Well,
Mary, you can store peonies in your refrigerator for up to seven
months, actually. – [Mary] No. – [Jill] Yeah, and
what you need to do is you need to find a peony
that feels like a marshmallow. So the bud would feel like a
marshmallow, not a drumstick. Drumstick peonies, it won’t work but if you find one
that’s nice and soft you can store it for
up to seven months in your refrigerator. What you wanna do is you would
need to cut off the foliage and some people like to wrap
tissue paper around the bud. You don’t need to do that,
but you can if you like. And just put them in
newspaper or wrapping paper wrap them up like a burrito put them in your refrigerator and keep them dry. Don’t even have to
have water in them. Just keep them in
your refrigerator. In the right conditions
you can go seven months. But realistically,
maybe a month, you know? Just try it, explore it. You might get a feel of what
works and what doesn’t work. For example, a double peony will take longer to open
than a single peony, so… if you store it in
the refrigerator a single one will
probably just burst open where a double one
will gradually open up over a little period of time. – [Mary] So you don’t
even have to put them into a vase of water when
you put them into the fridge? – [Jill] Nope. – [Mary] Oh, so just
wrap them in newspaper. Moist newspaper? – [Jill] Nope, nope. – [Mary] Just wrap
them in newspaper and then how long before
you wanna use them should you take them out
and put them into a vase? – [Jill] Well, depends
on, you know, like– the doubles, you would take
out before the singles. The doubles will take
maybe a day to open the singles, less than that. – [Mary] Oh, okay. Wow, that is a– that’s great information because I was so surprised
and I wondered “how in the world
can that happen?” So, I’m gonna try that. – [Jill] You should. – [Mary] Thank you so much, Jill for sharing your
beautiful peonies and all of your knowledge
with Prairie Yard and Garden. – Well, thanks for coming, Mary. I always enjoy
showing my peonies. (soft cello music) – [Voiceover] Funding for
Prairie Yard and Garden is provided in part by
Heartland Motor Company. Providing service
for over 30 years in the heart of truck country. Heartland Motor Company. We have your best
interest at heart. Farmers Mutual Telephone Company and Federated
Telephone Cooperative proud to be powering Acira. Mark and Margaret Yackel-Juleen in honor of Shalom Hill Farm a non-profit rural
education retreat center in a beautiful prairie setting near Windom in
southwestern Minnesota. (soft lively music)

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15 thoughts on “Prairie Yard & Garden: Peonies

  1. "Do you stake up or put cages around your peeneez to keep them up?" Sorry ladies, couldn't help it. Wonderful video. They're all gorgeous. Are any endangered?

  2. Thank you for teaching this Florida native living in Virginia all about peonies, I inherited one when we bought our home. Also grateful!

  3. Thank you for your informative video. Do you have an email address where I can write you a couple of questions.

  4. Been a while since ive been back to planting and when I watched this video I loved every moment of it. Very thorough and the collection she has is amazing!

  5. Thank you for this very informative video on how to properly care for peonies. I lived in Florida for 38 years so not familiar with this plant. Your peony collection is beautiful. I was so surprised to find out peonies have such a long lifespan, over 100 years…that’s wonderful. 👍

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