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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Monday - May 18, 2009

From: Indianola, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with peonies in Indianola, WA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


My 5 year old peony plant didn't come up. I thought it was dead so I dug it up. I found a clump of thick roots. I separated them, and then realized these were probably the bulbs. It is the middle of May by Seattle. Can I save these? There is no growth showing on the bulbs, I have about 10 to 15 of them.


There are 2 members of the Paeonia genus native to North America. While Paeonia brownii (Brown's peony) is native to Washington, Paeonia californica (California peony) is not. So, we're thinking you are asking about Paeonia lactiflora, which is native to Siberia, China and Japan. It is the large, showy flower you usually think of when you consider peonies.  At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are focused on the care, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Since the Paeonia lactiflora is non-native to North America, we will have no information on it in our Native Plant Database. Hopefully, there will be information in this Garden Helper site, Paeonia lactiflora that will give you the help you need. 


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