Owl Forest Farm’s peony research project highlights the flower’s value

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From 2018 to 2021, Kate Paul and the crew at Owl Forest Farm conducted research on 32 different varieties of peonies. Paul wanted to learn more about which varieties supported the most blossoms, and how long the overall peony blooming season could be extended.

The research was supported by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, with the results published in the agency’s “Green Book.” Paul and helpers planted 1,385 bare peony roots in long rows at Owl Forest Farm. She fertilized, weeded and watered, and waited for the long-lived plants to grow.

She didn’t have to wait long. Peonies are vigorous plants that grow quickly, and, once established and receiving at least minimal care, can live for a century. The plants began blooming vigorously in 2020, though no stems were harvested so they could all be counted for the research project. Paul began harvesting the first peony blooms in 2021.

Her research found that the most vigorously blooming varieties included “Flame,” “Shirley Temple,” “Alexander Fleming,” “Pecher,” and “Allen Rogers.” These varieties tended to have a peak bloom season in mid to late June. In addition, other varieties extended the overall peony blooming season in July, meaning that Minnesota-grown peonies could be available for harvesting and shipping during months when they can’t be grown in other areas.

Read more at hometownfocus.us

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