Seed Exchange Donations Requested
Peony seed collection time is upon us. The Seed Exchange Program is interested in receiving seeds of both common and uncommon peonies. Carpels (seed pods) should be left on the plant to ripen at least to the point where the pod starts to split. When the carpels are nearly fully open, collect the seed. Place seed in an open paper (not plastic) container, such as an envelope or small bag, to dry for a week or so. If you don’t do this, the seed may get moldy after being wrapped for mailing. Lastly, place seed into small labeled envelopes and seal. Please keep track of the name of the carpel parent that the seeds were collected from and record it on the envelope with the seeds. Where the name of the plant is unknown, a brief description is useful. To mail, wrap envelopes in bubble wrap before placing in the mailing envelope or use bubble envelopes.
Mail seeds to:
Canadian Peony Society Seeds c/o John Moons
34 Langford Church Road
Brantford, ON N3T 5L4
Please contact John if you have any questions. E-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to Save Your Seeds
The Seed Exchange Program is interested in receiving seeds of both common and uncommon peonies. Before you dead-head your plants consider letting a few go to seed. It is desirable to know the name of the plant from which the seed is collected, so kindly keep track of this information. Where the name of the plant is unknown, a brief description is useful. Carpels (seed pods) should be left on the plant to ripen at least to the point where the pod starts to split. When the carpels are nearly fully open, collect the seed. Place seed in an open paper (not plastic) container, such as an envelope or small bag, to dry for a week or so. If you don’t do this, the seed may get moldy after being wrapped for mailing. Lastly, place seed into small labeled envelopes and seal. If possible wrap envelopes in bubble wrap before placing in mailing.
Peony Seeds by R. Jakubowski
Peonies are heterozygous and do not come true from seeds. Named cultivars must be propagated vegetatively to retain their cultivar name.
Seeds collected from species plants have an inherent variability within the population and not all are exactly alike, even in nature. Be aware that species plants grown in the garden are subject to cross pollination with other peonies that may be in bloom at the same time, but otherwise, plants grown from species seeds remain species plants.
Peony seeds can be started indoors, but it’s a rather involved process and it has to be started in the fall to get the timing right for planting sprouted seedlings in the spring.
By late winter it is much better to delay starting peony seeds until mid-June, perhaps as late as mid-July. The reason for this is that peony seeds have a stepped approach to germination which has evolved to maximize sprouted seeds emerging in the spring when they have the best chance for survival. Seeds need a lengthy warm moist period after which the root starts to grow with the onset of cooler fall weather. The cold of winter is needed to break down barriers which otherwise prevent initiation of shoot growth. This sequence of environmental factors must occur in that order or the seeds will not grow.
- In mid-June to mid-July soak the seeds in water for up to four days. Seeds which sink are considered sound and should germinate for you. Seeds which never sink are usually hollow, and not viable.
- Plant out in garden, or in a cold frame, 1 inch deep, 4 to 6 inches apart.
- Water to dampen the soil, and avoid letting it dry out, but don’t keep it constantly wet either.
- It is best to cover the seeded area to conserve moisture, to mark the spot, and to protect against animals digging them up. They won’t show above ground growth until the following spring, so covering won’t bother them. Use a board or flat rock or something similar.
- Remember to remove covering as early as you can in the spring. Blooms will not appear for several years. First blooms of peony seedlings are often different from those that will develop as the plant matures. Don’t judge too quickly! Some seedlings may resemble their parents, but they are not identical. New peonies can be registered with the American Peony Society. For more information on registration email email@example.com.
How to Germinate Peony Seeds Indoors
Collect seeds as pods begin to open. The harder the outer shell the longer the first dormancy period.
Wash the seeds in soapy water, followed by a ten minute soak in a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part household bleach. Rinse.
For seeds that have been stored, soak in clean water from one to four days. Change water at least daily. Seeds that remain floating are considered hollow, or otherwise incomplete, and unlikely to germinate. Seeds that sink to the bottom should be okay. Use these as you continue with the next step.
Place seeds in sealed plastic bag with barely moist vermiculite or peat moss.
Place sealed bag in a warm area of the house(not in sun), check them every week to see if the root has emerged, and ensure they remain moist (but not wet!)
Leave them in the warmth until the roots appear (anywhere from a few weeks to several months).
Once roots appear and are about 3cm in length, move the bag to a cool location. Temperature should be approximately 4 degrees C. (An old refrigerator is fine)
After 12 weeks, remove the bag and pot up the partially germinated seeds in a soil-less germination mix.
Depending on the time of year, you may have to place seedlings under grow lights for a few months before being able to transfer outside.
Keep seedlings under grow lights and ensure they are moist but not soggy.
Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer every few weeks.
Transfer outside slowly as you would any other tender seedling. Too much sun, too rapidly, will result in burnt foliage.
Seedlings should be outside in a sunny well-drained seedbed by September at the latest.
Who We Are
We are a Society dedicated to the growth and development of Peonies. We are always looking for new members and enthusiasts to join the Society, so join us and come and share your passion!
Canadian Peony Society
424 Godolphin Rd.
Warkworth, ON K0K 3K0