A Chance Encounter with Paeonia rockii

peony_rockii[1]Today a lovely lady entered my shed just as I was finishing off potting up some Thuja plicata cuttings from last year. In her hand was an envelope containing Paeonia rockii seeds. She also showed me some photographs of the plants they came from in her garden. Amazed by the incredible blooms these tree peonies had to offer, I took up her offer and decided to have a go at getting them to germinate.

I thought they would be easy as I have managed to get many of their Japanese cousins to grow.  However, through my research I noted Mr Bricknell’s warning that they are difficult to propagate. On further reading I began to realise that it wasn’t just a simple case of shoving some seeds in a seed tray and covering them with grit and hoping the forces of nature will work their magic in a cold frame. Oh! No! these were going require patience and a bit of care and attention.

After scouring many sites I decided to take Derry Watkins advice and soak the seed in water overnight. She then suggested mixing with damp vermiculite and placing in a plastic bag and storing at room temperature until they root. This can take up to three months. Then I have to put them in the fridge until the shoots appear which can take another three months. To top it all I will probably need to wait another five years before I see the first bloom! Are they worth the wait? Definitely! Or I could just take a short cut and buy a specimen but where’s the fun in that? Also the fact that paeonia do not seed true makes it more exciting as I may end up with a better specimen than its parent.

So I have started this process and soaked my seeds and stored them in vermiculite and I’ll keep you posted on their progress. Now I’m going to issue my warnings first of all I will need to check propagation rights and secondly I always obtain seeds from known sources and never from abroad. I don’t want to be the source of the next pest and disease out break!