I often get asked, what’s your favorite flower? It’s really a tough question because there are just so many that I love, but peonies are definitely at the top of the list. There is just something about peonies that make me happy. You can’t help but just stare at them for a bit and sigh with content.
I was chatting with our flower expert (we call him “FJ the Flower Guy”) and he told me all about a fantastic trip he took just the other week to visit the field of one of our peony growers. How many of you have seen a peony farm? It’s pretty amazing and I thought you’d like a behind the scenes look at how these beauties are grown!
The field FJ visited is in Pennsylvania, not too far from Wilmington, Delaware. Peonies are commercially grown all along the East Coast from North Carolina all the way to upstate New York into Vermont. As the weather warms up, the fields in the south will be harvested right before Mother’s Day and the harvesting will continue heading north as the warm weather extends up the coast. The final flowers will be harvested in New York and Vermont, sometime toward the end of June/beginning of July. Of course the timing really depends on what’s happening with the weather and this year it looks like peonies will be ready to go right before Mother’s Day (perfect timing for gifting!)
Most people think of peonies just by color, but there are actually so many different varieties. The field that FJ visited had over 15 varieties planted! Check out a few of our favorites:
Some of the most popular varieties include “Festiva Maxima” a large double blooming white peony with flecks of crimson (double bloom means it’s a variety with more layers of petals than a single bloom variety). There’s also “Mons Jules Elie” – a very large light rose pink double, “Sarah Bernhardt” a bright darker pink double and “Coral Charm” – a vibrant coral peach blossom.
Looking at the photos, it’s hard to imagine that these little plants (about 12-16” tall) will grow to produce such beautiful blooms. The peonies in these fields have been there for five or more years (FJ actually helped plant some of them!). Below are pictures from May last year and you can see how beautiful it is once the colorful buds start popping up all across the field.
As soon as the plants are ready to go, the blooms are cut at bud stage since this is the best way to pack and ship them. You can see our post about how peonies open to see how the little buds open up into the lush blooms we all know and love.
We’ve only shown you just one of the many farms that grow peonies in the US. There are also peony farms in the upper Midwest, the West coast and even Alaska, so now the US peony season has been extended beyond the typical May to late June time frame which is great news for peony lovers!
We hoped you like this behind the scenes look and check out our peony page if you’d like to pick some up!