Gardening Report: Alaska peonies are in bloom, and you could grow your own

As peonies bloom across the State of Alaska, you could start your own peony garden at home.
As peonies bloom across the State of Alaska, you could start your own peony garden at home.(ktvf)
Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 5:59 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Alaskan peonies are blooming across the state, and you could start growing your own at home.

According to Leslie Conner, Owner of Periwinkle Peonies, these flowers are very popular across the world. “People love them. You know Martha Stewart got it started with declaring how peonies were the brides’ preferred flower, and because of our cold temperatures and our late growing season, they’re blooming here when they’re not blooming anywhere else in the world. So that makes them very sellable here.”

While peonies are grown across the State of Alaska, Conner said there are some hurdles one should be aware of before planting their own. “Our soil is really acidic here. And you want a pH of about six and a half. So before you put any peonies in the ground, and I know this because I’ve made all the mistakes that can be made, before you put any peonies in the ground you got to clear the land. And you have to amend it with lime, with materials that will bring up that pH to more like six and a half.”

According to Conner, getting your starter roots is a simple and streamlined process. “You start with a root and there are several companies that will mail you roots. They’ll send them up here through FedEx or USPS. We put the roots in the ground at about the end of May, about the same time you would start your annuals like up on your deck or in your garden. It takes about three years, three to five years, before you’re going to see nice big bushes -and every year they come back a little bigger, a little more buds on the plant. They like a lot of water and a good bit of fertilizer.”

And there’s no need to worry about the winter chill, as peonies actually thrive after being frozen, though they do require some preparation. Connor explained, “We cut them down... I cut them down to about two inches on the stems, and then you get rid of the debris. But peonies really do need to freeze over winter, and then they come back. So if they don’t freeze, they’re not really a southern or a hot plant.”

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