2011.06.15 Garden plants - peony

Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul.  ~ The Koran

One of the most beautiful of the perennials, 
peonies bloom in late spring in the Midwest. 
The total flowering period is only week or two
for most varieties.  The peony plant is
generally 2-3 feet high, bushy, non-invasive, with glossy green leaves during the entire growing season.  It’s pretty even when not in bloom. 

The peonies in the photos are herbaceous peonies, meaning they die back to ground level in winter.  A tree peony has different growing requirements and habit and is not herbaceous.

They are only a bit fussy about planting conditions:
·         they need sun for at least half-a-day and more is better
·         the root system can’t be planted deeper than 2 inches or the plant will likely not bloom
·         plant in good soil which is neither too dry nor too wet and is well-draining
·         they need several feet of space between root systems

Peonies are long-lived; 50 years is not an uncommon age for a herbaceous peony.

Peonies are often depicted in Japanese and Chinese art and the herbaceous peony has been the state flower of Indiana since 1957.

These flowers create beautiful flower arrangements.  Since the bloom period is fleeting, I always cut them freely so I can enjoy them inside as well as outside.

I’ve only found two drawbacks or disappointments with peonies:
·         since there is nectar on the outside of the flower buds, you need to check for ants and other tag-alongs when bringing the cut flowers inside
·         if your area has a particularly rainy time, the peony flowers may appear and disappear without time to fully appreciate their beauty.  This happened in my garden this year; very disappointing to miss these gorgeous blooms

Peonies are best transplanted in the fall.  The root systems are easily divided, so if you’ve seen a peony you would like to have, the most difficult part is remembering exactly which peony had the blooms you liked.
Get 3-5 “eyes” on the roots if you can.
Most gardeners are pleased to share; just ask.