With many Peony varieties in cultivation they are grown both as garden plants and for cut flowers. In China, Peonies, or as we sometimes call them, the Peony Rose are regarded as an omen of good fortune, love and wealth.
Peony flowers are also regarded as the ‘Queen of all flowers’, so that is a fairly good indication that the peony flower is rather special.
Varieties and cultivars
- Herbaceous peonies
- Paeonia tenuifolia
- Peony obovata
- Tree peonies
- ITOH peonies
- American lutea hybrid peonies
- Japanese and Chinese Peonies
- Paeonia mlokosewitschii – Peony ‘Molly the Witch’
Two Main Peony Types Two types are found, the ‘Woody’ species or ‘Tree Peonies’ and the Herbaceous species.
However with over 30 species of Peonies With around many named varieties, it is a little simplistic to lump all peonies in together in terms of planting and care. Do this and you will be doomed to failure. For a start, not all like being planted with the eyes below the surface at all, some do.
Cultivation will depend on the variety, of if you are adventurous the actual species. We also have the issue of shade or no shade, again some species actually do like shade, others need full sun.
CHECK OUT OUR SHORT VIDEO ON PEONY VARIETIES
Planting peonies – Step by step
The best place to plant Peonies is in a sunny position with a well drained soil that is slightly alkaline.
- Choose a well dug, free draining soil in a sunny position
- Check the ph, we are looking for around 7.5. You may need to add some lime to the soil to achieve this.
- Dig in some well rotted compost
- Plant the tubers with the buds just below the surface, except for those that need the buds, just above the surface.
- Mark with a stake, these plants do not like to be disturbed.
Selecting the plant.
When buying these plants be careful, some nurseries pass off very small and young tubers to the public and these can be difficult for the average gardener.
The problem is that peonies need a large root system to flower well, they are reliant on the energy stored over winter to produce the flowers.
It can take up to 5 – 6 years for this to develop, the impatient gardener has given up by then. So look for a largish root system, or be patient.
Here is the second problem, some gardeners plant these plants in shaded positions and they need sun to flower. They are also often planted to deeply as well, the tubers need to be only 1″ (25mm) below the surface, to deep and they will not flower.
And the ph, it needs to be an alkaline soil or they may not flower.
Fertilizer and Pruning
In spring its time to feed the peonies, use a liquid seaweed fertiliser for good results, a general purpose slow release fertiliser is good as well.
After flowering let the plants die back naturally, this is important so that the root system builds up energy for the next season. This is essential as next years flower buds form on the root system, a happy healthy root system means better flowers.
Once fall comes around cut back to the ground and mulch lightly with some well rotted compost. Not to deep.
Not flowering means they are :
- Growing in to much shade,
- Are planted to deep
- You need the ph adjusted
- The soil is to dry or to wet
- You have over fertilized with nitrogenous fertilizer, which promotes foliage growth, not flowers root system is struggling with other plants
- The plants are to young
- The plants are to old and crowded, they need dividing and replanting
Peonies have also been in cultivation for centuries, including some named cultivars that have been around for nearly 200 years.
Peony season brings the gardener large perfumed flowers, lots of colours, pinks, whites and reds, and attractive foliage, so what’s not to like about these hardy plants. They are even used as cut flowers and in wedding bouquets.
Some gardeners have a little difficulty in getting them to flower although others regard them as easy, we look at basic care and planting requirement for a wonderful display of Peony flowers in spring.