Be...a bee!

Become a peony breeder and create new Paeonia hybrids! Breeding peonies is easy! You only need to be extremely patient! Below, a simple breeding technique as we do at Pivoines Capano, our peony nursery. Breeding peonies is full of expectations!

STEP 1 : Détermine your objective

You need to establish an objective! What kind of peony you want to create? What are the desired characteristics: strong stemmed plant? Tiny peony? Cold resistant? Blue color?

In determining your objective, this will help you planning all the crosses you will have to do. Sometimes, it could be necessary to work on many peony generations before reaching the desired characteristics.Remember that you will have to cultivate all the collected seeds and plants for many years before you can see the first flower and the results of your crosses. In having an objective, you will limit the number of plants to cultivate at a reasonable number·below thousands plants·


STEP 2 : Choosing the parents

Depending of your objectives, select the peonies that will be used as parents.

Example ! You have a peony in your garden. You like the flower but the stems are not strong enough to support the big flower. Your objective is to create a new peony with a similar flower but with stronger stems.

So, you can choose to pollinate your peony (mother) with another one who has strong stems (father). Both peony parents has to be fertile i.e. the mother should bears fertile carpels and the father, fertile pollen.


STEP 3: Collecting and preserving the pollen

If you are lucky, both peonies you want to use as mother and father will bloom at the same time. However, it is more probable that they will bloom at different periods. Small problem ·.easily resolved!

You need to collect the pollen of the father peony as soon as it starts to bloom and keep it until the mother peony will be in bloom. To do it, cut and keep the stamens of the father peony as soon as the flower opens.

Place the stamens on a piece of aluminium foil. Let it dry in a dark room, well aerated for 24 to 48 hours. Once the stamens are dry, all the pollen will be liberated on the aluminum foil on a powder form. Place it in a dark plastic container. Conserve it in the refrigerator.

STEP 4: Pollinisation of the flower...the bee factor!

Now, action ! Watch closely your mother peony. As soon as the flower bud start to develop some colors and just before it opens (similar to a big marshmallow), cut all the petals and stamens. Keep only the carpels in the center.  


Quickly, put the choosen pollen on the carpels & stigmas with your finger. Protect your cross in covering it with a white paper envelope. Identify clearly your cross. Keep this data carefully.

The standard way of expressing a cross is the following : mother X father. For example, the parents of the peony <<Carnation Bouquet>> are : Blushing Princess (mère) X Sparkling Windflower (père).



STEP 5: Collecting the seeds

In september, when the pods are mature, collect the seeds.  Dip the seeds for few minutes in a bleaching solution (1% i.e. one ml of Javex or Chlorox in 100 ml of water). Then, rinse it with clear water.

STEP 6: Germination of the seeds

Put the seeds in a Ziploc bag containing humid vermiculite or peat moss. Store them in a warm room in the dark.

Be patient ! Look at your seeds every week. After few months, a small white root should appear on each seed.

When this root has reached half an inch, place this germinated seed in another Ziploc bag with humid vermiculite or peat moss. Put the bag in the refrigerator. Look at your seeds every week. After few months, your seed will emit a tiny leaf, calls the plumule.


STEP 7: Plant your baby...and be patient!

As soon as the plumule appears on the seed, remove this young plant (or germinated seed) from the refrigerator. Plant it in a 4 inches pot with potting mix. Keep it in the house, in a sunny place (no direct sun) until the last frost outside. After that, you can plant it in your garden. In the fall, protect it with a mulch.

Now, be patient ! Your young seedlings may take 3 to 4 years before emitting its first flower and that's only after this time that you will discover if you have reached your breeding objectives. And independently of your breeding successes, the important fact is that you have lived from hope and had pleasure for all these years.