Fri, 30 Jul 2004 11:21:49 PDT
Hi Gang,

this is a group of plants that have long captured my attention.  Especially
the Moutan section.

Jim McKenney mentioned the current rush of Chinese imports, which I would
like to put into perspective.  The Chinese plants usually represent
different cultivars than what we call the Japanese cvs.  They are increased
mainly through division, which is why we receive larger, twiggier starts.
They tend to grow quite a bit larger than the Japanese varieties, typically
reaching 6 ft or more at maturity.  The Japanese cultivars are normally a
scion grafted onto a P. lactiflora root stock and they do not originate in
Japan.  They are a local product in just about every land which sells them.
This has given rise to a relatively stable group of cvs being available for
US/European markets.  An important cultural point for the grafted plants,
even if they were to be Chinese sorts, they MUST be planted with the scion
well below soil level.  The theory is that the scion should root itself over
the coming seasons and the lactiflora root-stock will wither and die.  This
is much better for the plant, as the root stock is incapable of creating a
long-term shrub, which is what the tree peonies are.

There is a group of European cultivars which were bred in the previous
century using the Chinese and Japanese varieties, as well as P. lutea
(ludlowii) and P. delavayi.  These are, also, largely offered as grafted
scions on a lactiflora.  They have typically European names, such as
Souvenir de Maxime Cornu or Chromatella.  Ironically, these names have been
translated back into Japanese and one will find them offered under Kintei,
Kinkaku, Kinshi, etc.  These are not Japanese varieties!  Funny world, huh!

I have tried a few of the commercially offered Chinese cvs, which are
offered in the Spring as pot plants, often budded, no name, just a colour.
They have been mainly fine aquisitions, only the green sort, presumably Dou
Lou, didn't make it.  The white is typically Fen Dan Bai, which is thought
to be a cultivar of P. ostii.

As to handling warmer temps, I don't know, as I am a Zone 8.  I've read
references to tree peonies being traditional pot plants in China, sent down
the mountains, where they were grown, to bloom in city gardens and then be
discarded.  They could not adapt to the heat!  Mind you, southern China is a
bit warmer than Los Angeles.


Jamie V.

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