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Do peonies grow well in Kentucky?

Becky Asked

I’ve recently moved from Charleston South Carolina to Burlington Kentucky. It was too hot there to grow peonies. How well do they grow in Kentucky?

The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Becky:

Peonies will be a wonderful addition to your new Kentucky garden. The most common peony grown here are herbaceous perennials. They die back down to the ground each year and reach around 3ft. tall each growing season. These peonies should be grown in location that receives 6-8 hours of sun each day. Tree peonies are not as commonly grown but are very much worth finding and planting.

They have woody stems, maturing at 3-4 ft. tall and prefer a bit more afternoon shade. The name is a bit confusing as they are not trees but medium sized shrubs. Hybrids between the herbaceous and tree peonies are known as Intersectional peonies. They produce the flowers and foliage of the tree peony but have the hardiness of the herbaceous types. Bloom time and color depend on specific cultivar.

There are early, mid and late-season bloomers. as well as a range of flower colors to choose from. All peonies should be grown in nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. Visit your local garden centers and nurseries to see what catches your eye. Given the right growing conditions, peonies are long-lived plants. They are finicky about being moved once established so choosing a good location is important.

If you want to have your soil tested you can do this at your County Cooperative Extension Service. The Boone County offices are located at 6028 Camp Ernst Road in Burlington. The phone number is (859-586-6101). The horticulture agent will be able to help with you with this. They are also a great resource for all things plant related. Spring has officially arrived when the peonies are in bloom. Happy gardening and welcome to Kentucky.

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