Peony flowers are gorgeous and graceful that everyone would fall for. I am no exception. Moreover, the perennial plant has an impressive lifespan and pays high yearly floral dividends.
There are several ways of propagating peonies, such as rootstock division, seeding, cuttings, etc.
You might have heard somewhere about an urban myth of rooting peony cuttings in water.
My curiosity led me to give it a try. Keep reading to see if it is real.
Why Should You Propagate Peony From Cutting?
Can you grow peonies from cuttings? Absolutely yes.
Among the variations, cuttings are a quick and effective way to reproduce peonies true to the type of original plants.
Growing from seeds is uncertain because of genetic variability. It means the seed-grown plants can produce unpleasant results against your initial expectations.
Their flowers could be awesome, or they could be really hideous.
In contrast, peony propagation from cuttings is much more reliable. When you find a peony tree with traits you like, you can use it as the mother plant to make clones.
With this method, you are secure about the outcomes, which will completely align with your preferences.
Is Rooting Peony Cuttings In Water Possible?
Can you root peonies from cuttings in water?
No, most of the time. Scientifically, it is still a mystery, so I tried it myself to help you answer that question. The result is most species died, only one with a tiny sprout but eventually dead.
My first experiment started with a few stem cuttings from a mature peony plant in my garden.
Then, I put them into a glass of water with a few drops of rooting hormone and kept them in a cloning chamber.
I checked them every 3-4 days to see if any change happened, and the only thing I got was gradually dying stems. They ended up being black and mushy after one month.
Among my next trials, there was one time I detected a super tiny and fuzzy head on one of the cuttings.
Unfortunately, I saw no further development, and they were all no success eventually.
Proper Way To Propagate Peonies From Cuttings
After constant failures, I did some research and realized that the method of peony propagation cuttings is not applicable to herbaceous peonies but to shrub or tree varieties. Here’s the steps:
- Step 1: Take the cuttings in spring when the peonies have just finished blooming and started getting new sprouts. Use a sharp, sterilized knife and choose young and healthy woody shoots for cut-off. The stems should be cut with a length of between 10 and 15 cm. You should take the cut at the base of the stems where there is a knob of leafless growth. Remove any unnecessary foliage, and leave 2-4 leaves on the top of each cutting.
- Step 2: Put the upright stems in a container filled with moist potting soil at a depth of 3-4 cm. It is best to use loam. Otherwise, you can use any commercial potting mix and add some garden compost, grit, or any similar perlite to the soil to enhance the drainage.
- Step 3: Find somewhere inside your house to dig a hole for each then place the pot of cuttings. They are still so young for an outdoor environment. Warm and shady positions without any direct sunlight are ideal spots for propagation.
- Step 4: Now, all you need to do is trust the process and wait for brand-new roots to form.
Note: Remember to check the humidity and keep the soil moist yet well-drained during the period. To improve the chance of rooting, I personally recommend maintaining the soil at 5-6 pH.
Your tree peony cuttings might take root if fed and maintained properly after a few months.
Tips To Grow Healthy Peonies
Generally, peony plants require little effort for caring and maintenance.
However, there are some important notes on how to grow peonies from cuttings you should be conscious of to increase productivity.
When To Plant
The best planting time for tree peonies is in the fall because they need about six weeks to settle before the ground freezes (winter).
However, depending on your planting hardiness zone, you can have a slightly different schedule. Some other gardeners start in the late spring or late summer.
I usually start in late September and October because after that time, it is also the time of dormancy for peonies in California.
Planting depth is one of the most vital criteria regarding planting peonies. Too deep or too shallow planting could hinder their root growth and blooming.
It is proper to plant them at 4-5 inches deep below the soil level to allow the roots to moisture.
It is also beneficial to backfill soil under the peony root if necessary.
3-4 ft. spacing is good enough for air circulation between the plants, and later flower arrangements.
Peonies are quite easy going when it comes to the soil they grow in. Their top requirement is quick drainage and rich soils.
The soil needs to be loose, lightweight, and well-drained. In case of heavy clay soil, you can make amendments to the texture by adding organic compost or river sand.
Tree peonies also grow best in neither too acidic nor too alkaline soils, so a pH of around 6.0-7 is the most favorable.
Peonies need constant watering, especially during the first year or two after planting.
You also should water your new peonies right after transplanting to settle the soil, reduce the transplanting stress and encourage new plants’ adaptation.
Mature peonies can be watered weekly. Additional watering can be required during summer.
Potted peonies tend to drain faster, so they might need to drink every 3 days in summer.
A slight reminder is that don’t rush if seeing the soil dry. You actually should water them again after the soil has completely dried out. Never overwater your peonies if you do not want them to die in floods.
It is common wisdom that peonies like herbaceous and Itoh Peonies are sun-loving and need at least 6 hours of sun.
However, tree peonies are slightly different. These delicate flowers have a lower tolerance to sun exposure.
They prefer full sun in the morning and need light shade against being overheated in the afternoon.
The daily intake of light also depends on specific climates. Hence, you should study your growing zones to adjust accordingly.
Besides excessive heat, you should protect them from strong winds and frost damage.
Fertilizer & Weed Control
Feeding your peonies every spring and fall for provision of nutrients to poor soil. My routine is to apply a slow-release fertilizer with 7% nitrogen at the beginning of each season.
One important note is not to use any fertilizer with high potassium levels, as this can harm the plants.
Weed control should be started early and consistently in your peony beds. Remove all visible weeds and add a layer of organic mulch, like coconut mulch, a couple of months before planting.
If any weeds do invade, take immediate action before they can establish and entangle with the peony roots.
If you’re looking for a reliable plant that reproduces blooms quickly and true to type, propagating peony cuttings is a good option.
Although I didn’t succeed in rooting peony cuttings in water, I learned how to propagate peonies from cuttings properly.
If you still want to try your luck, go ahead. Who knows, you’ll be the one who makes it happen. I’m so pleased to be here and waiting for you to come back with good news.