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What To Do With Peony Seed Pods: Start New Plants Easily!

What To Do With Peony Seed Pods: Start New Plants Easily!

Just like other types of tuberous plants, peonies can be easily propagated using different techniques. As long as the tubers have noticeable buds and are undamaged, they can be planted and will usually start to grow within a year.

However, you can also plant the seeds and have new peony plants.

What do you do with seed pods from peonies? When the peony seed pods ripen, they turn dark brown and crack open slightly revealing purple or black seeds. You can harvest the seeds and plant them immediately in the fall. The seeds will soon germinate and turn into seedlings. They need a warm-cold cycle to develop roots.  

It usually takes time for the peony seeds to sprout and develop a new plant. Read more to find out how to harvest the seeds, store them, and plant them.

Peony Seed Pods

After the peony flowers are pollinated in the summer, pods of seeds develop in clusters inside the pollinated flowers.

At first, the pod is gray or light brown with fuzz covering its skin, but it will mature into dark brown, and its skin will become leathery. When fully ripe, the peony seed pods crack open on their own.

What Do Peony Seeds Look Like?

Peony seeds are shiny and dark purple or black when ripe. The seeds have an oval shape with a pointy end and average about a half-inch long.

Will Peonies Grow From Seed?

Peonies can grow from seeds, but the seedlings need a warm-cold cycle. If planted in the fall, the seeds will germinate, and the seedlings will lie dormant in the soil throughout the winter.

Between 500 and 1,000 chill hours are necessary for the seedlings to develop roots and true leaves. 

How Many Seeds Are in a Peony Seed Pod?

Each peony pod can have as many as 50 seeds. A single peony plant can give you enough seeds to fill the garden with new plants.

When To Cut Off Peony Seed Pods

You’ll have to wait for the peony seed pods to ripen before you cut them off. They usually ripen in September.

Once the skin of the pods turns leathery, loses its fuzz, and becomes dark brown, that’s your cue to cut them. If you leave the mature pods on the plant, birds might eat them.

How To Harvest Peony Seeds

Harvesting peony seeds is as easy as waiting for the ripe pods to crack open slightly and cutting off the pods.

Crack open the pods with your hand by applying slight pressure on the opening.

Drop the seeds in a jar of water. Good seeds will sink while damaged seeds will float. Skim off the floating seeds, and get rid of them. Dry out the good seeds, and store them in a cool and dry place if you’re not planting right away.

When To Plant Peony Seeds

Peony seeds need a warm-cold cycle to grow leaves. You can plant them in the fall directly after harvesting the seeds. They’ll germinate and stay dormant in the soil throughout the winter.

Alternatively, you could plant them in the spring after germinating and chilling them in the fridge over the winter.

How Long Do Peony Seeds Take To Germinate?

Peony seeds germinate quickly and start developing roots within 4 to 12 weeks from the time you plant them, but the seedlings need a stratification period of about 4 months before they can develop true leaves.

Should I Soak Peony Seeds Before Planting?

Soaking peony seeds can help hydrate them before planting. This can accelerate the germination time. Make sure to change the water for the seeds every other day to prevent mold from forming.

How Long Does It Take To Grow Peonies From Seed?

Peonies growing from seeds can take about 2 years to flower. However, some peony types would take about three to five years before they start flowering, and the peony will need another year to establish.

Know that fresh seeds often germinate faster than old ones.

Pink peony flowers blooming with sunlight shining down.

How To Grow Peony From Seed

There are two ways to plant peony seeds. If you have a cold winter, then you can plant the seeds as soon as you harvest them in the fall. You could also chill the seeds in the fridge and plant them in the spring.

Here, I’ll talk about the first method, which is suitable for Growing Zones 3 to 8.

  1. Harvest the ripe seeds in the fall, and test their viability in water. Collect the seeds that sink in the glass of water, and prepare to plant them.
  2. If the seeds are not fresh, put them in a jar, and fill it with lukewarm water. The seeds need soaking for a few days to speed up germination. Change the water every two days.
  3. Choose a sunny site in the garden that gets between 6 and 8 hours of direct sunlight during the spring and summer.
  4. Turn up the top 10 inches of the soil, add in organic materials, and check that the soil drains quickly. Water the soil to get it moist just before planting the seeds.
  5. Drain the seeds, and plant them in the moist soil about half an inch deep. You don’t need to cover them with soil. Just make sure they’re firmly planted. Pack the soil around each seed.
  6. Space the seeds 2 inches apart. They could take up to 3 years to sprout so you don’t want to waste too much space.
  7. Cover the soil with half an inch of chopped woodchips or mulch to keep it moist.
  8. Place a marker in the bed of the type of seeds you planted and the planting date.
  9. Cover the bed with a plastic sheet over the mulch to preserve the temperature of the soil. Keep the cover throughout the winter. Remove it in the early spring.
  10. Usually, the seedlings will emerge in the spring. 

How To Grow Peonies From Seed Indoors

To grow peonies from seed indoors:

  1. Put some vermiculite in a resealable bag, and add some water to get it moist.
  2. Add the seeds to the bag, seal it, and place it in a warm place until the seeds germinate 4 to 12 weeks later.
  3. Make sure the vermiculite is still moist, and place the bag on the lowest shelf in the fridge (the vegetable bin).
  4. Keep the seeds in the fridge for the next 3 to 4 months.
  5. In the spring, plant them in a sunny spot, and water them.
  6. If you have a cold winter, you can skip the fridge step and plant the germinated seeds immediately in the garden.

Related Questions:

Can You Root Peony Cuttings in Water?

Only tree peonies can be propagated from cuttings. You can place them in a jar full of water and keep them away from direct sunlight. Change the water regularly. When the roots are a few inches long, you can plant them in the garden.

Will Peonies Grow in Shade?

Most peonies will thrive in full sun. Tree peonies, however, can grow in dappled light or partial shade. Full shade is not recommended for peonies of any type.

Final Thoughts

Peonies produce seeds like many other flowering plants. Pods of seeds grow in clusters, and each pod can have as many as 50 seeds.

If you plant the fresh seeds right away, they’ll have a better chance of germinating by the next spring, but some seeds could take up to 3 years to germinate.