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Peony, the dazzling star of Spring

peony - paeonia

Peony is a beautiful flower, but it tends to be choosy.

Basic Peony facts

Name – Paeonia
Family – Paeoniaceae
Type – perennial

Height – 1 ½ to 6 ½ ft (50 to 200 cm)
Exposure – full sun, part sun

Soil: rich and moist   –   Foliage: deciduous   –   Flowering: spring → summer

The blooming depends heavily on how well it is cared for. From spring to winter and from planting to the removing of wilted flowers, here is all the advice needed to grow them.

Planting peony

It is recommended to plant your peonies in fall spacing them 30 to 40 inches (80 to 100 cm) apart.

  • Planting in the fall lets you savor their bloom in the subsequent spring.

If you have purchased your peonies in containers, you can wait until spring to plant them, once freezing is over and before the heat sets in. Provide for regular watering over the first year.

To enhance flower-bearing, add organic soil conditioner such as manure and seaweed.

  • peony plantingChoose a well-lit area that isn’t too hot. Part shade is fine, too, but you’ll have slightly less flowers.
  • Peonies like well-drained soil and usually tolerate ordinary soil.
  • Follow our guidance on planting peonies.

Propagating peony

Peony propagation is best done through root division in fall or at the beginning of spring.

  • This is recommended every 3 to 5 years to give your plant renewed vigor.

Pruning and caring for peony

Peony carePruning peonies, in their herbaceous or their tree form is not a necessity, but experts share that it boosts flower-bearing dramatically!

  • If you want less but larger flowers, remove side shoots as they form.
  • If you want more flowers, even if they might be a bit smaller, remove the main bud to trigger side branching.

To stimulate budding of new flowers, remove wilted flowers regularly (deadheading).

  • You may need to stake the peony if it gets windy in your area.

Pruning tree peony

Prune delicately in fall or at the end of winter, removing any dead wood and the more fragile branches.

Pruning herbaceous peonies

Herbaceous peonies die away naturally when the cold spells start, and reappear in the following spring.

Do not remove leaves before they have died off, because peonies need them to stock up on nutrients for the next season’s blooming period.

  • At the end of fall or the beginning of winter, you can remove the wilted leaves.
  • Add dried leaves on top of the flower bed to mulch and protect the roots from freezing. This will also serve as fertilizer as it decomposes.

Peony watering

Peonies love having lots of water!

  • As long as the soil doesn’t stay soggy all the time, you can go ahead and water as much as you want.

watering peonyThis will lead to lush growth and abundant blooming.

It’s best to use rainwater if you can collect it, and to water in the evening or early morning to limit losses due to evaporation.

Try not to get the foliage or flowers wet, because in hot weather the plant will get covered in powdery mildew if you do so.

As a cut flower in a vase, your peony will last quite a long time, but remember to top up the vase every day – it will drink it empty in no time!

Diseases and parasites that attack peony

Verticillium wilt – peonies wilt and die.

Thrips (tiny winged insects) and nematodes (worms) are aggressive pests.

Several peony cultivars

‘Alba Plena’ – white, double flowers.

‘Rosea Plena’ – pink, double flowers.

‘Crimson Globe’ – red flowers.

‘James Crawford Weguelin’ – large, carmine red flowers.

All there is to know about peony

This perennial is herbaceous or shrubby, and its blooming period is generous and lasts for all of spring.

  • peony flowerTree peony has the disadvantage of growing more slowly than herbaceous peonies.
  • Herbaceous peony dies off completely in winter, and grows back in spring. Tree peonies keep their branches over the winter. They don’t grow much higher than than 6 ½ feet (2 meters) tall.

Their flowers may be fragrant, and stand out forming an absolutely ravishing solitary round ball.

Peonies are most commonly planted in perennial flower and shrub beds, along hedges or in secluded parts of the garden.

You can cut a peony flower and put it in a vase, it will hold for a very long time!

  • Provide it with a lot of water, though. A couple flowers can go through a bottle of water in one day!

Smart tip about peony

Peonies are rather fragile. If they are to be moved at all, handle them with utmost care.

Images: Pixabay: Jill Wellington, marleussia, Elena, Amanda Mabry, shutterstock: NataSnow
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  • ME wrote on 24 May 2021 at 17 h 00 min

    I need to see more, a comprehensive pictorial with description on diseases and their treatment.