Jim McKenney
Sat, 03 Jun 2006 04:43:57 PDT
Angela, here's something else to keep in mind in growing and selecting
garden peonies. If you are contemplating growing them for a cut flower
business, this may be very important. 

Here in Maryland, all of the dozens of herbaceous peonies I've tried  grow
well. Peony bloom season here ranges from mid-April to early June. The
temperatures during the mid-April to mid-May period are still moderate:
there may be overnight freezes or more likely frosts during the early part
of this period, and daytime temperatures do not go above 80 degrees F for
long. The peonies which bloom during this period bloom beautifully. 

In many years, the temperatures begin to soar in late May and early June.
Double flowered peonies which bloom during this time rarely produce good
flowers. And if they do, the flowers do not last more than a day or two
before they show signs of trouble. The colors are poor, faded or bleached
and the form is often irregular. Single flowered peonies which bloom during
this time open normally but frizzle in the heat right away. 

So I think you have two challenges to keep in mind: first you need to find
peonies with a low chill requirement (the peony societies here in the US
keep track of this and should be able to provide a list of cultivars
suitable for warmer areas).

Second, you need to find peonies which bloom during the coolest part of your
spring. These typically will be the earliest blooming sorts. 

I don't know conditions in Western Australia at all, but I'll bet that late
blooming double flowered peonies will not produce good flowers for you  even
if they survive, grow and produce flower buds. 

Good luck finding something suitable. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where the last of the peonies
are out there gasping for breath.

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