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Research with Physiology, Field Production and Post Harvest Handling of Fresh Cut Peonies

Identification of Botrytis species causing gray mold in Alaska and Washington. 2013 by Gary Chastagner, Katie Coats, Annie DeBauw and Patricia S. Holloway. Poster. Presented at the Alaska Peony Growers Association Conference. 13-15 February. Fairbanks, AK. PDF

Using DNA fingerprinting techniques, the most common species of Botrytis in Alaska is B. cinerea which was found at 8 grower sites around the state. B. paeoniae was identified from two sites. Botrytinia calthae was associated with one location in Homer, Alaska.

Holloway, P. 2011. Video. Harvesting Peonies in Alaska.

Peonies for Field Cut Flower Production First Year Growth by Patricia S. Holloway, Janice T. Hanscom and Grant E.M. Matheke. 2003. University of Alaska Fairbanks Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Research Progress Report 41. PDF

Roots of thirty peony cultivars were planted in 2002 and evaluated for first year growth at the UAF Georgeson Botanical Garden, Fairbanks Alaska. Most peonies survived the winter despite a lack of snow early in the season. Cultivars showed a great diversity in vegetative growth, ranging from less than one vegetative stem per plant to more than 12 stems. First-year stem length in our trials averaged 46 ± 12 cm and ranged from 0.3 cm to 63 cm. All cultivars bloomed except for Jaycee, Mrs. FDR, and Shawnee Chief. The bloom season began 30 June and extended through the first week of August. No disease or insect pests were recorded on any of the cultivars during the first season. This first-year project has shown that a variety of cultivars may be grown in Alaska, and future selections may be possible for seasonal bloom times. Floral stem lengths were well within the range of cut flower production from lower latitudes, but one season is too early to predict flower quantity and quality in each cultivars.


Peonies for Field Cut Flower Production Second Year Growth by Patricia S. Holloway, Janice T. Hanscom and Grant E.M. Matheke. 2004. University of Alaska Fairbanks Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Research Progress Report 43. PDF

     The 2002 and 2003 flowering periods were similar, with both beginning on 30 June and the 2003 season ending before August. In some cultivars a shortened bloom period was related to fewer flower buds opening to full bloom, but the response varied among cultivars. The most productive peonies for stems in full bloom were: 'Bowl of Beauty', 'Sarah Bernhardt', 'Louis Van Houtte', 'Karl Rosenfield' and 'Felix Crouse'. All peonies survived the winter despite a second year of low snowfall. All cultivars produced blooms, although individual plants of nine cultivars did not bloom (cvs. 'Doris Cooper', 'Duchess de Orleans', 'Felix Supreme', 'Festiva Maxima', 'Gardenia', 'Mighty Mo', 'Mons. Jules Elie', 'Mrs. FDR', 'Vivid Rose'). More than 50 percent of all flower buds did not mature into full blooms. Our cultivars in their second growth year averaged 19.2 inches (49 cm) in maximum stem length (range 6–29 inches, 15–74 cm). This length was barely suf- ficient for U.S. No 2 grade and not sufficient to allow for a 12-inch (30 cm) stem remaining after cutting.


Peonies for Field Cut Flower Production by Patricia S. Holloway, Janice T. Hanscom and Grant E.M. Matheke. 2005. University of Alaska Fairbanks Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Research Progress Report 44. PDF

     Twenty of the 30 cultivars averaged fewer total number of flowers in 2004 than 2003 (Table 1, p. 4). Reductions ranged on average from 0.2 to 7.3 fewer flower buds per plant. The most productive peonies in 2003 were 'Bowl of Beauty', 'Sarah Bernhardt', Louis Van Houtte', Karl Rosenfield' and 'Felix Crouse'. All of these cultivars showed reductions in flower bud production in 2004 with 'Bowl of Beauty' and 'Sarah Bernhardt' showing the greatest change of all cultivars. The most productive cultivars in 2004 were 'Duchess de Nemours' and 'Felix Crouse'. In 2002 and 2003, the flowering period began on 30 June for all cultivars and ended during the last week of July or first week of August. In 2004, flowering was as much as 10 days earlier than the previous two years because of warm summer temperatures. 'Red Charm' bloomed first on 8 June. Only 'Pink Parfait' remained blooming into August. 'Sarah Bernhardt' peonies grown at three spacings on soils amended with peat or compost showed no difference in flower stem production during the second growing season.



Peony Research 2009 by Patricia S. Holloway, Shannon Pearce and Janice T. Hanscom. 2010. University of Alaska Fairbanks Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Miscellaneous Report 2010-02. PDF

     This experiment addressed three components of the peony production cycle: field planting dates, root quality and productivity and post harvest handling of cut stems. In a comparison of planting times (autumn, spring, summer containerized), 'Sarah Bernhardt' and 'Felix Crouse' showed no difference in shoot number and growth one full year after planting. 'Duchess de Nemours' and 'Alexander Fleming showed significant reductions in survival and growth mostly due to disease in storage that killed or delayed bud break in roots. Three root attributes were correlated with the total number of stems produced one full year after fall planting: total number of eyes per plant, total number of storage roots per plant and root fresh weight. Root length and maximum diameter were not correlated with subsequent shoot growth in the first year. The best method for handling peony cut flowers for greatest vase life is to cut peonies dry and store them dry in a cooler 34F at 80+% relative humidity until shipping. Use of water buckets in the field or pulsing flowers with water in the cooler does not improve vase life. Under optimum conditions, 'Sarah Bernhardt' peonies lasted up to 15 days in a vase, 8-9 days from bud break to full bloom, and an additional 5-6 days in full bloom. Chilling is the most important attribute to long vase life.

Other Literature


The University of Alaska Fairbanks Georgeson Botanical Garden, PO Box 757200, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775 (907) 474-7222, gbgardensuaf@gmail.com