Posted by: HortAlaska | July 26, 2017

Tobacco Rattle Virus

This publication summarizes information gathered in Alaska and other locales for the occurrence of tobacco rattle virus, an insidious disease that shows up in Alaska peony fields from roots imported from a variety of sources. No one knows if TRV affects yields of peonies, but in some years it is definitely visible on the foliage at cut stem harvest time. The most common vector is a nematode that does not occur naturally in Alaska soils, and there are hints that it might be spread by sap or clippers. However in the 20 years I have been working with peonies, I have a few plants mixed in with ones that show no symptoms. In those years, it has not spread to adjacent plants that have been pruned and clipped every year. At least the strain that occurs in Alaska does not seem to spread.

17.Garfinkel TRV


Posted by: HortAlaska | June 10, 2017

Vase Life Studies

I have attached a copy of a poster my students and I completed a few years ago. We have received a lot of interest in handling practices after flowers are cut. This experiment was designed to help understand best practices. The  biggest factor is cold storage. A huge challenge for growers is maintaining consistent and cold temperatures after cutting. Fluctuations even from people walking in and out of the cooler can cause moisture condensation on the flowers, Botrytis growth, and a shorter vase life.  2010. Peony Vase life poster


Posted by: HortAlaska | June 10, 2017

It’s nectar time!


The nectar began to ooze from buds, even the tiny side buds, this week when the temperature soared into the 80s and 90s. The nectar oozes from the edges of the sepals not from any specialized nectary. Even though they are called extra-floral nectaries, meaning outside the flower, there are no real specialized cells you could call a nectary. The turgor pressure inside the plant gets so great, the sweet stuff bursts in tiny bubbles all around the edges of the sepals and collects in the bracts and leaves below. A menagerie of insects cannot be far behind. The nectar is very sweet but has a tinny aftertaste. Ken H, peony grower in Homer, has bee hives in his field, and the bees do a good job cleaning up the nectar (and thus helping control sooty mold on the flowers). The honey from his hives was light, sweet, nothing to brag about in the beginning. But after a few seconds, an amazing aroma/flavor bursts inside your mouth for an extraordinary treat.

Northern Agriculture



Posted by: HortAlaska | March 24, 2017

The Chain from Kenya to Netherlands

This article highlights the coordinated effort being made between Kenya flower producers and the big markets in the Netherlands. Kenai

Posted by: HortAlaska | March 24, 2017

Cold Chain Management

This site is for a company called FlowerWatch that sells a service for managing the environment after the peonies are harvested. Their service is not something Alaska growers could take advantage of, but the site shows the importance of managing the cold chain from the field to the vase. Temperature is especially critical, and growers in Alaska should have recordable temperature monitors in their pack houses and refrigerated storage that allows growers to have precise control of their storage conditions. Everything from harvest stage to the shipping containers should be standardized across the state to allow for a great Alaska brand for everyone.


Posted by: HortAlaska | February 2, 2017

Dutch Cut Flower Trade in China

The cut flower trade is huge and ever changing as demonstrated by this move by Dutch flower industry to trade directly into China.

Dutch Trade

Posted by: HortAlaska | January 30, 2017

Vase Life of Peonies

IN 2013, 14, and 16 I examined the vase life of 69 different cultivars of peonies to see which ones would last 7 days or more in a vase. There were winners and losers, and I was especially interested in which were consistent from year to year. The zero category was mostly ITOH hybrids (starred). The greatest category had 1 of 3 years at the 7 day average vase life. There were only 6 cultivars that were consistent for 3 years. Those 6 may or may not have other attributes that make them lousy cut flowers (short stems, poor yield), but at least in this category they are stars!



Posted by: HortAlaska | January 30, 2017

Flower Development

I recently gave a presentation to the Alaska Peony Growers Association about my feeble attempts to classify peonies into singles, doubles, semi-doubles, etc. Even the experts in the field often classify them differently, and they can even differ from the breeder! In addition, many of us have seen all kinds of weird development on peonies including plants that have singles, doubles and semi doubles on one plant. The link below is an older video but I haven’t found an updated one. Nevertheless, it provides an interesting geneticists-eye-view of how sepals, petals, stamens and pistils are formed. It is not even about peonies, but a little mustard, Arabidopsis. It’s worth watching. And while you are watching, think weird peonies!  Here’s one with all sepals!

peony-all-sepals-3Science Matters: the ABCs of flower development

Posted by: HortAlaska | January 17, 2017

Marketing tips

Marketing Tactics

Interesting article about marketing in the floriculture businesses.

Posted by: HortAlaska | January 12, 2017

Great Research Site

Every grower should be reading the surveys published by Floral Marketing Research.

Social Media Marketing

Posted by: HortAlaska | November 20, 2016

Forcing Peonies in Israel

Check out this video on peony production in containers from Israel.

Forcing Peonies

Posted by: HortAlaska | November 13, 2016

Petal It Forward

A great campaign by the Society of American Florists aims to put a smile on people’s faces by donating bouquets of flowers to strangers, one for them to keep, and another for them to give away. Florists in all 50 states include Bagoys Florist & Home, Anchorage, participated in this event. Lots of smiles out there!

Petal It Forward


Posted by: HortAlaska | September 15, 2016

Alaska Peony Society

A group of peony enthusiasts had an exploratory meeting yesterday  to learn if there was interest in starting an Alaska Peony Society for anyone interested in growing and gardening with peonies. The response so far has been very enthusiastic.  This organizations is to promote education and information about gardening with peonies throughout the state. Connect with them through their FB page:Alaska Peony Society


Posted by: HortAlaska | August 18, 2016

TRV in China

You’d think with the number of years peonies have been growing in China, tobacco rattle virus would have been reported long ago. Not so, according to this article. It seems to be fairly recent and not very severe. Sure wish we could say the same thing in Alaska! It has been imported with the roots. Certain suppliers have more TRV than others. I guess the name of the game is, only buy from suppliers who routinely rogue out the disease before it gets to your fields.

He, Chen. 2016. TRV

Posted by: HortAlaska | August 14, 2016

China trade in flowers

China trade in flowers

Posted by: HortAlaska | July 2, 2016

Alaska Peonies Highlighted

Nice article about Alaska peony farmers!

Alaska Peonies Florist Review June 2016

Posted by: HortAlaska | July 2, 2016

A plea for more growers

Mike Williams was interviewed recently about peony markets. He said one of the biggest obstacles to the Alaska peony industry is not enough peonies and growers. World markets are in the millions of stems. Alaska is still in the thousands.

More farmers, please!

Posted by: HortAlaska | June 9, 2016

Ice encasement, snow loss and more

This article is not about peonies, but is about a major issue facing peony growers: lack of snow, ice encasement and more. It shows that, at least with tree seedlings, ice encasement is the most destructive force in winter injury. We have not completed anything like this research with peonies, but I believe it, as well as soil ice melting with roots sitting in wet, soggy soils, are the main reasons why roots die in winter. The whole article is available for download online: Snow and Ice



Posted by: HortAlaska | May 26, 2016

The world cut flower business

The U.S. doesn’t make the list of top cut flower growers. Maybe Alaska can help put it on the list!

Top cut flower suppliers

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