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Growing Peonies: If you live where peonies grow, its the same every year in late spring. Certain homes have them in beds, borders, along drives--and anywhere they grow, they create probably the most beautiful clump of flowering of the whole season. Big, usually fluffy flowers in glossy green foliage.
Perennial peonies are what experienced gardeners call investment plants. They're some of the most permanent landscaping you can buy. In fact, many continue blooming beautifully for over 100 years. Once they're established, they're as hardy and dependable as oaks, creating a fantastic season of bloom in your yard year after year.
Planting Peonies Adding peonies to your garden is not difficult. All you need is full sun and good soil. (In even partial shade, the bloom will be scant or non-existent--keep them out in the sun!) As most gardeners know, the roots look like a bunch of carrots--thick long tapering tuber-like masses that increase every year. Feed them, water them, and the clumps will expand rapidly, and more and more blooms will result.
Types of peonies: The standard perennial peony species is Paeonia lactiflora but within the species, there are thousands of hybrids old and new. And there are several flower types:
Single Peonies are the huge, wide-open ones with just one row of overlapping petals. Like huge poppies, they create dinnerplate-size beauty that's really unmatched in the garden. The singles are less frequently seen in American gardens because of our passion for petals-people just prefer the doubles. One of the most famous singles is the breathtaking Krinkled White, an old classic and still a big favorite.
Japanese Peonies, not to be confused with Tree Peonies which often come from Japan, is a flower form somewhat similar to the singles, but with a more elaborate center. A great example is the big favorite, stunning Bowl of Beauty, with glistening cherry red petals petals plus fluffy yellow center, creating spectacular color contrast.
Semi-double Peonies are just that. They have the basic bottom row of large petals seen on the singles (often called the guard petals), but on top, there are more shorter petals, developing from the center. A great example is the beautiful red Edulis Superba.
Bomb Peonies are the ones with the guard petals flat and large, with a pile of petaling sitting upon them-sort of like a fluffly snowball sitting on a plate. Some of the most-loved and dramatic peonies are bombs including the magnificent Laura Dessert and the dramatic Raspberry Sundae As these two illustrate, there are bombs of various shapes and sizes. With Raspberry Sundae, the large bomb not only adds size and height, it gives the overall bloom a stunning palette of three colors-white guard petals, a collar of yellow, and then pastel pink making up the center. In Laura Dessert, the coloring is all white, with a hint of lemon yellow in the bomb.
Double Peonies are probably the most popular, and the most widely planted. Excellent examples are the famous Victorian introduction, Festiva Maxima with its snowy white flowers with red flecks, and Sarah Bernhardt, the all-time popular double pink with huge flowers and great fragrance. Other popular doubles are the red Karl Rosenfield and white Shirley Temple.
There's really no end to a gardeners pleasure with peonies. They're all good for cutting. The foliage stays glossy and green all summer long, and they attract almost no pests. (Don't confuse the standard perennial peony with the Tree Peony, a separate group. Tree Peonies are more shrub like, and don't die down completely each winter.)
Staking: This is important, since once a peony is established, the heavy flowers are often too heavy for its stems. You don't have to stake them, but if you don't, you're going to have big beautiful flowers nodding down in the mud. So once you have a healthy clump, use peony rings to keep them upright. The rings are simply wheel-like wire arrangements that stand up over the peony like a little wire table as the plant sprouts in the spring. With upright supports, the peony ring is placed so the shoots will grow up through the round wire bale. Of course, the foliage quickly hides the ring, and you have a beautifully-supported clump well before the flowers open. Where to find Peony Rings? GardenersSupply.com has great ones which I've used, and I recommend them.
|Botanical Name||Paeonia lactiflora|
|Zones||3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8|
|Light Requirements||Full Sun|
|Flower Color||Pink, Red|
|Mature Height||28-32" tall|
|Estimated Mature Spread||18-20" wide|
|Bloom Time||Late spring to early summer|
|Planting Depth||Plant the roots 1" to 2" below soil level with the eyes (buds) pointing up.|
|Ships As||Bare Root|
|Soil Type||Loamy Soil|
|Soil Moisture||Average, Well Draining|
|Advantages||Fragrant, Cut Flowers, Native|
|Ships to Hawaii, Alaska & Canada||No|
Adding peonies to your garden is easy. Plant in full sun in most regions. In colder regions, planting peonies in shade will result in weak stems and less flowers. In warmer regions or where spring is hot and dry, choose a site with afternoon shade. Plant in average or well-draining loamy soil. Peonies prefer soil that provide moisture, but isn’t water logged. Add compost if needed before planting.
Planting tree peonies is different than herbaceous and intersectional itoh peonies.
The first year of growing peonies, expect the roots to products 2-5 leave shoots and 1-2 flowers. Year two brings a plant double the size and double the blossoms. By the fourth or fifth year peonies will be full and bushy, with lots of foliage and blossoms.
Itoh and tree peonies don't require staking, but most herbaceous peony once established, produce heavy flowers that often are too heavy for its stems. You don't have to stake them, but if you don't, you're going to have big beautiful flowers nodding down. So once you have a healthy clump, use peony rings to keep them upright. The rings are simply wheel-like wire arrangements that stand up over the peony like a little wire table as the plant sprouts in the spring. With upright supports, the peony ring is placed so the shoots will grow up through the round wire bale. Of course, the foliage quickly hides the ring, and you have a beautifully-supported clump well before the flowers open. Where to find Peony Rings? We recommend Gardeners Supply.
For herbaceous and (itoh) intersectional peonies after blooms have passed, clip expired blooms down to the where the foliage meets the stem. Leave the foliage for the remainder of the growing season. As fall arrive and temperatures cool, the leaves will turn yellow and then wilt. For herbaceous peonies trim back all foliage to about 3" from the ground. This keeps the plant tidy and allows new growth to come up without damaging it. In the fall itoh peonies need to be treated similar to herbaceous and tree peonies since they are a hybrid of both. Once the plant has matured its best to trim back so that the herbaceous portion of the stem is removed and the hard wood portion remains. Its best to leave the peonies alone in there first year of growing so that you tell the difference between the herbaceous green stem from the hard wood portion as the leaves die back. Usually mature itoh peonies will leave 4-5 inches of hard wood above ground.
Tree peonies require different trimming techniques. Cut the stem just below the expired blooms. If you trim the stem to far, it will hinder next year's growth. This years green shoots will become next years woody branch. So in the fall, do not trim back or cut to the ground, leave the shrub as is. If you have a mature tree peony and it needs shaping, the best time to prune, is right after it blooms. Make sure to not take to much off the tree as it can really hurt the shrub.
Peonies don’t need to be fertilized every year. Its best to plant them with plenty of nutrients. Apply bonemeal, compost or well-rotted manure in early summer, after peonies have bloomed every couple of years.
Shipping begins in September based on ground temperatures, coldest zones first.
As soon as your order is placed you will receive a confirmation email. You will receive a second email the day your order ships telling you how it has been sent. Fall bulbs are shipped at the proper planting time for your hardiness zone. Perennial orders may arrive separately from bulbs and seeds. If your order requires more than one shipment, there is no additional shipping charge. See our shipping information page for approximate ship dates and more detailed information. If you need express shipping or have any questions, please call Customer Service toll-free at (877) 309-7333 or contact us by email.View Shipping Rate Chart
To determine if a plant is sufficiently cold hardy, the USDA created numbered zones indicating winter low temperatures; the lower the zone number the colder the winter.
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