The Peony Store
Planting & Care
Tree Peony Section
This year I am offering a choice of Tree Peonies. The "Tree" in "Tree Peony" is something of a misnomer as it is actually a woody shrub, but what a shrub! In this country they usually reach around 3 to 5 feet high and approximately the same wide.
Most commercial tree peonies are grafted to herbaceous nurse roots which helps them survive the first 4-5 years of their lives. The problem with the nurse root is that it wants to LIVE which means that it is as much in competition as it is in nursing the tree. Unless it is planted just right the nurse root keeps sending up leaf stems of it's own, taking energy from the primary plant and if not recognized it can murder your lovely tree peony. This is why, after I replaced several of these, I decided to sell nothing but tree peonies that have grown to an age that have had their nurse roots removed and are surviving on their own root systems. They cost more but in my opinion, are worth the investment.
These are truly spectacular plants having both enormous, silk like flowers in the very early (2-4 weeks before herbaceous) spring and really gorgeous foliage. In the fall most give off brilliant colors before the leaves drop off for winter (October/November). The woody stems remain above ground and start to show signs of life again around February/March, weather dependent.
The care and feeding of tree peonies is pretty much the same as the herbaceous (click to care and feeding page) although you don't cut them back to the ground. Every year, until they reach maturity they will become a little larger. Tree peonies are somewhat slow to grow. They have huge longevity. They have tree peonies in China that are documented to be over 300 years old.
The tree peonies are shipped bare root and will appear kind of odd and dry, but when spring comes and these girls spread their wings they will jump start your heart. When you receive them you might soak them in a bucket with some root starting solution for 2-3 hours