Now’s the Time: Plant Peonies and Hostas in Fall
Most all perennials are fine for fall planting. But there are some that almost demand it–—like Peonies and Hostas.
Peonies, the big beautiful flowers that bloom in late spring, have very large roots which take time to develop. An established peony root looks a lot like a bunch of carrots, except they aren’t orange! Those big thick roots have plenty of time to grow all winter long when you plant in fall. If you plant them in spring, they have to struggle to produce roots and flowers all at once.
So get a jump on some magnificent new peonies for spring. Stick them in a good sunny spot this fall. My favorite is one of the new Coral Colored group, called “Coral Sunset.” All peonies are easy to grow, but this one also puts on a show of colors. You’ll be amazed how the color goes from deep coral to almost pure white as they open wide during their bloom cycle. Or you can choose some of the old classics like “Karl Rosenfeld,” the best deep red one, or the famous fragrant classic “Edulis Superba.” Like tulips, they need some winter freezes to do well. But under the frozen earth, their roots will be growing for you. And they’re a great investment. The plants have been known to last over 100 years!
Hostas love fall too, for some of the same reasons. They have a thick, fleshy sort of root system much like daylilies. So like the peonies, they have all winter to settle in and build big healthy roots well before spring demands they produce their beautiful foliage.
And there’s another reason to plant them in fall. Notice how hostas, large or small, create a rosette of leaves when they come out in spring?—that’s everyone’s favorite thing about them. Well, if you get them in the ground in fall, they’ll be able to do that their first year for you. If you plant in spring, they’ll do fine, but you probably won’t get a well-formed rosette of leaves until the following year.
There’s one big difference in these two fall planters. Peonies must have good sun to bloom. Hostas are made for the shade, with moisture. So pick your places, and enjoy planting them on a beautiful fall day.