Gardening Articles


INTERSECTIONAL OR ITOH PEONIES

Intersectional (or Itoh) peonies are the hottest new addition to the peony world.  After nearly 40 years of failed attempts, plant breeder Toichi Itoh finally succeeded in crossing a tree peony (shrub type) with a herbaceous or lactiflora (dormant). 

So--Are Intersectional Peonies Really An Improvement Over Existing Forms? Noteworthy VarietiesCaring for Intersectional Peonies

Intersectional peonies are vigorous and rapid growers, much more so than tree peonies and often more so than herbaceous or lactiflora types.  Within a few years, a good-sized root division will produce several blooms and in three to four years may become the highlight of your garden.  These peonies require the same care as any other (see care discussion in FAQ) and will thrive with good drainage and in full sun.

Propagation of IntersectionalsTissue-Cultured Intersectionals

Tissue-cultured plants represent a tradeoff between a lower price for what has up until recently been a very expensive investment and the chance that your plant will not quite be what you expected it to be.

Despite claims to the otherwise, tissue-cultured plants are not always exact copies of their parent.  So be cautioned that the blooms or other characteristics on these plants may not be identical to those of the original parent and in some case will be inferior replicas.  For the average gardener who will likely be unfamiliar with the appearance of the original, this may not matter and a fair approximation will be good enough. 

Additionally, you need to be aware that tissue-cultured peonies commonly sold are often much smaller than those from root divisions and will take longer to produce blooming plants, at least one year and sometimes two.

Why Buy a Private Stock Intersectional Peony 

All of my peonies have been propagated by root division from the original cross and have been purchased from specialty nurseries that take great pride in selling the genuine version.  In the case of Garden Treasure, my starts come from Hollingsworth Nursery, which bred this beautiful variety. 

Any plant you receive from me will be a large root division with numerous eyes, will come directly from my own stock, and will be fairly priced.  These plants are guaranteed to be true to form and absolutely as fresh from the field as they can possibly be.  You will not be disappointed! 


ORIENPET LILIES

What Is an Orienpet Lily?

That said, because of their parentage, Orienpets will never be as absolutely hardy as Asiatics, which represent the gold standard for cold tolerance and reliability.  However, I have grown and field-tested numerous of these beautiful new lilies for several years and have found that many increase in size over time and even slowly reproduce.

A few companies market Orienpets as tree lilies, so called because they have the potential to grow up to 6 feet tall with very thick woody stems.  However, like all other temperate zone lilies, Orienpets become completely dormant every fall with no live top growth remaining.  It also should be noted that many Orienpet lilies will often not grow as tall in Montana as they might in milder climates such as the Northwest.

Planting and Growing Tips

  • All lilies like a lot of sun and a well-drained soil.  Be sure to mix in plenty of high-grade compost with your lilies when you plant them.  And try to avoid planting them in extremely heavy soils that are slow to drain.
  • Fertilize your lilies in the spring with a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote.  Also, because much of our soil east of the Divide is somewhat alkaline, you may need to supplement with an amendment containing iron and sulfur.
  • Orienpets should be planted as a bare bulb in the spring only or as well-rooted pot plants up to about the 1st of September.  They should not be planted as a bulb in the fall because they will not have time to adequately reestablish their root system.
  • After Orienpets finish blooming, which will be around the 3rd week of August, be sure to immediately cut off the seed heads to allow the plant to fully place its energy production on building up the bulb for the next season.  However, leave as much green foliage as possible until the plant yellows and becomes dormant in the fall.
  • Mulch your Orienpet in late fall after the ground freezes hard with loose straw or wood chips up to 6 or 8 inches in depth.  This will help ensure that your plant will come back and bloom beautifully the next year.

Proven Performers in Helena, Montana

    • Northern Carillon
    • Easter Morn
    • American Spirit
    • Leslie Woodriff
    • Scheherazade

Why Buy a Private Stock Orienpet Lily?

I sell only potted plants that have been extremely well rooted in under field conditions.  Because these lilies are not greenhouse grown, they are hardened off thoroughly and will bloom this year in sync with their natural growing season.  All of my plants are thoroughly checked for (viral vectors) aphids and botrytis, which are controlled organically  Any variety I sell has been or is currently being tested outdoors in my test plots to determine its reliability in Montana.

I guarantee that the plants you buy from Private Stock Perennials will be full of vigor and primed to reach their potential this year and for many years to come.

2010 PEONY OBSERVATIONS

Following are  my notes on how some of my peony varieties performed in 2010.  These are intended to provide my customers with honest insights about how some varieties perform from year to year.  Some of the peonies are still so new that I am not yet offering them for sale, but you can look forward to them being offered for sale in future seasons.

In general, under the cool and rainy conditions we had last spring from late May through June, all peonies performed quite well.  They much prefer such conditions to the high heat that we ocassionally see at that time of year.  I saw no evidence of botrytis even under our cool moist conditions.  I attribute some of that to my weekly spray program,  in which I used a very effective organic spray containing a form of bacilus subtilis.  A common trade name is Serenade.  Finally, as a general observation, all peonies bloomed extremely late for a second straight year.  The peak of my bloom was on July 4, which is highly unusual.

Observations about individual varieties follow:

  • Amalia Olson--When in bloom, it was fantastic with big billowing double white flowers--and boy oh boy, is it fragrant!  The flowers seem to stand quite well without staking.  The plant is moderately vigorous and parts of the crown sometimes appear to die out in any given year.
  • Bartzella--Had gorgeous 8-inch double yellow blooms and quite a bunch of them this year.  While this is not as long-blooming as Garden Treasure, I really like the fullness of the flowers and the very upright foliage.
  • Bev--New in 2010; the large semidouble pink blooms seemed to bloom for a very long time, nearly two weeks for each individual flower.  Also, the foliage was the richest deep green of any variety I grow.  I have high hopes for this one.
  • Buckeye Belle--For several days during last spring it was an absolute knockout with its very rich dark red semidouble flowers.  The plant retains its nice habit and foliage all season.  It is not a long bloomer, however, and you'll be lucky to see it in bloom for a week to 10 days max.
  • Candystripe--Its maroon foliage lasted the longest of any variety I grow, which is a very nice added feature.  The size of the blooms is small and the numbers on each plant don't seem to be particularly high.  Still, with its very long stems, highly unusual peppermint striping, and late late bloom season, it is well worth growing.
  • Cherry Ruffles--Wow!  Absolutely beautiful cherry red semidouble bloom this year that almost tends to full double.  This one also seemed to be in bloom for a very long time.  The plant is short and moderately vigorous for me.  It has seemed to take a few extra season to really get established, but it is definitely a garden centerpiece once it gets going.
  • Coral Sunset--As always, the bright coral pink blooms slowly fading to a creamy yellow made this one a knockout again.  Coral Sunset definitely shows some susceptibility to iron deficiency that other varieties don't have.  I did have to treat it with chelated iron during this wet cool spring to keep it green and healthy.
  • First Arrival--New in 2010; another intersectional, it had lots and lots of semidouble blooms that is an attractive pink with a definite lavender hue.  The foliage stayed a beautiful green all the way through late fall.
  • Garden Lace--This remains one of my favorite singles; again very very floriferous with its beautiful soft pink flowers with a big poofy yellow center that fade to white.  An excellent vigorous grower that's highly reliable.
  • Lorelei--Definitely represents a color break with its dusky orange-red flowers that fade nicely to apricot.  The medium-size blooms stand rigidly erect and have a pleasant spicy fragrance.   This variety has been quite slow to become established and some individual plants have even died out on me.  If you can develop a mature specimen, it'll definitely stand out in your garden.
  • Old Faithful--Continues to be an extraordinary performer; I really like the very unique buds on this that look just like perfectly formed rose buds, then slowly unfurl and build into full bloom.  With its extraordinarily rigid posture and great foliage, this one has never disappointed me.  It is a slow grower for us as sellers but still makes a pretty decent specimen plant for gardeners after a couple of years in the ground.  This one sold out instantly with customers who came out to view it in my gardens.
  • White Frost--New in 2010, it looks to me like it will be a very nice double white.  Its fragrance was sweet but spicy and the young plants were highly erect and upright.   I look forward to how it will perform as a 3-year plant.

For additional discussion about peony varieties that are outstanding landscapers, go to the following link in the American Peony Society website:  http://www.americanpeonysociety.org/awards/award-of-landscape-merit

SOMEWHAT DISAPPOINTING VARIETIES

  • Petite Elegance--Touted as a very beautiful rose blend fading to cream, so far the rose color has not been very pronounced and it has faded very quickly.  It also appears to be extra susceptible to iron deficiency.  If it doesn't perform up to expectations in 2011, it will be a goner.
  • Sugar n' Spice--This one receives high marks nationally but has been a bit disappointing for me.  While I really like the foliage, very lush tropical looking leaves that stay green all season, the bloom size has not been nearly as big as it was declared to be and the flowers only last a short time, even for a peony.  It does provide early color when most peonies are still yet to bloom.

MY ADMITTEDLY HIGHLY SUBJECTIVE TOP TEN LIST OF PEONIES (that I've personally grown)

  1. Old Faithful
  2. White Cap
  3. Bartzella
  4. Amalia Olson
  5. Coral Sunset
  6. Early Scout
  7. Cherry Ruffles
  8. The Fawn
  9. Garden Lace
  10. First Arrival

2011 Peony Observations

The following are my evaluations of select varieties as I observed them during last year's growing season:

Fern Leaf Hybrids: Fern leaf hybrids are crosses between true tenufolia fern leaf peonies and herbaceous peonies.  Most have small single red flowers and bloom very early, often beginning mid-May.  They have a fine cut-leaf foliage, which is not as ferny as a pure tenufolia.  Fern-leaf hybrids grow faster than tenufolias and retain their green foliage later into the summer and fall.

I have two varieties, Merry Moonshine and Early Scout.  Merry Moonshine is a larger plant, up to 36 inches in height, and has large single red flowers with a light fragrance at the end of May.  While the foliage is cut leaf, it is nowhere near as ferny as its tenufolia parent.  Early Scout has a very fine cutleaf foliage that is maroon for a few weeks as it emerges in the spring and has a beautiful mounded form.  It is a dwarf variety, never getting much taller than 15 inches.  For a beautiful accent in your border, this is one of the best of the hybrids that I have seen; it never disappoints me.

General Observations about Intersectional Peonies: After several seasons of growing intersectionals, I am confident that they are thoroughly hardy in Montana.  They are also excellent growers and all varieties that I grow retain their green foliage well into late fall.

While the blooms are generally large, their utility as a cut flower is average at best.  They generally last three days or so in a base, cut at marshmallow stage.  All of my varieties, which include Garden Treasure, Bartzella, Cora Louise, First Arrival, and Hillary, stand well in the landscape without needing to be staked.  Most are very excellent peonies, and with their new colors and forms, will make a fine addition to Montana gardens.

Observations about Select Herbaceous, Hybrid, and Lactiflora Peonies:

Summer Glow: While this was just the first season of bloom on some young starts, I can see why it is so highly regarded by many peony experts.  The bloom color is definitely unique, as the big double blooms have an extremely unusual peachy yellow cast.  Although this one will not be for sale for another couple years because it is a slow grower, it definitely shows great promise as a highly collectible and extraordinary peony.

Bev: In its second season of performance for me, I am still very impressed by Bev's lovely red foliage, which maintains its beautiful maroon color for a long time in early spring, that then turns to a very durable deep green for the rest of the growing season.  Bev's semidouble blooms are very full and billowing.  Add to these attributes the fact the Bev is a very reliable and easy grower, and you simply can't go wrong with this variety. 

First Arrival: This intersectional bloomed heavily for the first time for me.  The semidouble blooms have a very distinctive lavender pink hue.  The flowers are held nicely above the foliage that stays nicely green all season.  This one certainly deserves the accolades it has been given.

Old Faithful:  Still my favorite peony, Old Faithful continues to impress me with its rich green foliage and extremely strong stems.  For anyone located in an area with frequent high winds, this is certainly the one to have.   Of any peony I grow, Old Faithful has the most wind and rain resistant blooms.  Another very outstanding characteristic of this plant is that the unopened blooms look nearly identical to red rosebuds and show color for nearly 10 days before the big billowing double red flower fully opens.  While this is a slow-growing plant, it is very sturdy and simply is a top-of-the-line variety.

Hillary:

Etched Salmon: 

Petite Elegance:

 

 

 

 

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