Peonies as a Potential Forcing Crop
The genus Paeonia (Family Paeoniaceae) consists of over 30 species most of which are of European or Asian origin. There are two horticultural groups: the woody"tree" types and herbaceous peonies. The latter are derived principally from P. lactiflora (Siberia) and P. officinalis (Europe), and consist of a large number of cultivars developed over many years and grown mainly as garden plants in cold winter climates. These are very hardy, bushy perennials 2 to 4 feet tall that die back in the winter but develop new flowering stems each spring from a tuberous crown. The blooms make excellent cut flowers. They store well and exhibit much the same vase characteristics as cut roses. Interest in herbaceous peonies as a commercial crop in this country apparently was abetted by the establishment of a large variety garden at the University of Illinois in 1926; by 1935 some 2000 acres of the plants are reported to have been in production in the vicinity of Evansville, Indiana, and horticulturists at Purdue University were investigating a number of cultural and post-harvest concerns of local growers. One of their more important conclusions was that flowers harvested when the buds first show color maintain their quality when stored dry for 3 to 4 weeks at 1°C (34°F). Field grown cut-peonies continue as a minor floricultural commodity in the midwest, although today's total acreage is greatly reduced.
Source: • University of California Flower and Nursery Report