Herbaceous Hybrid Focus
‘Vanilla Schnapps’ is an advanced generation herbaceous hybrid from work Bill Seidl did in the 1990’s and introduced by us in the 2013. The plant was produced from a crossing of two unregistered seedlings, which we know little about. What we do know is that ‘Vanilla Schnapps’ is an outstanding hybrid peony. This peony cultivar is known for its semi-double to double creamy-yellow flowers. Petals often have multiple notched edges, much like a pinking shears would create. The central petal configuration on flowers produced on mature plants are unique for their fluted/folded expression along their full length.
The plants have wide deep green foliage and are vigorous growers. Many of the cream to yellow colored herbaceous hybrid cultivars lack the excellent plant habits of ‘Vanilla Schnapps’, making it a stand out in the group. Plants generally take 3 or 4 years before showing the full double flowered expression, but the single and semi-double form flowers are excellent nonetheless. Plants don’t usually need mechanical help, but we’ve notice that the very large blooms do tend bend the stems on very well established plants. As a cut flower Vanilla Schnapps is proving to be very good. Last qualities are better than most others in this color class and are good openers after storage. We have also done well with its flowers in APS shows, garnering Best Herbaceous Hybrid and Court of Honor.
Stems arising from the ground have large developing flower buds topping them off, an unusual and striking sight! Dark red early growth is ramrod straight and visually appealing. As stems elongate the flower buds topping them off continue to enlarge, giving the appearance of a ball on a stick. Finally leaves expand and plants become more normal looking. The dark green foliage is a wonderful foil for the lightly colored flowers.
Vanilla Schnapps is one of the easiest to grow herbaceous hybrids and is easily divided as well. Many hybrids have small crowns carried on neck-like structures, not VS. The many beautiful eyes are well spread upon a crown that can be cut into numerous parts, all that easily grow after division. If plants are allowed to grow for 5 or 6 years without division, roots will become extremely large (as big as a large forearm +). Division from old plants requires much of the large old root(s) to be cut away to promote the growth of young fresh roots. Planting divisions with complete large roots is not recommended, as plants will likely use reserves and produce few new roots. This is true with most peonies and large old roots should be dealt with appropriately for best growth.
This cultivar was obviously named for the flavored schnapps beverage by the same name, but in my opinion the plant is much more enjoyable. If you haven’t tried the beverage, don’t go out of your way to do so as it is probably an acquired taste! The Plant is not an acquired taste and will almost surely satisfy anyone that enjoys flowers and plants.