Peonies are among the favorite plants of many gardeners.The opposite would surprise us: with their big colorful flowers, often scented, they have everything to please. Thousands of varieties can be found on the marker, with different colors, sizes and blooming periods.There are not many plants that have a long history as the peonies.With its large flowers and the medicinal value of its roots, this kind of flower has been grown throughout history to become the queen of flowers.For the Chinese, the peony is the flower of honor and wealth and they made it their national flower. It is even the symbol of feminine beauty and love.
All peonies do well in full sun, although flowers may last longer in partial shade.
If peonies are received in pots, they should be planted to the same depth as they were in the pots. If plants are received bare root, they should be planted as soon as possible. To ensure proper hydration, it is helpful to soak the roots in cool water for 15 to 20 minutes. The proper planting depth is with the uppermost bud 1 inch (2.5 cm) below soil level. A hole larger than the pot or roots should be prepared with compost mixed in a foot (30 cm) deep. A spacing of 3 feet (90 cm) should be left between plants to allow growth to maturity.
The soil should be well draining. Poor drainage leads to Botrytis, a fungal disease attacking the stem and shoots.
Peonies are not fast growing so care should be taken not to overwater or overfertilize. Any complete garden fertilizer not too rich in nitrogen may be used. Fertilizer should be applied after peonies have bloomed (or after 1 month of growth for young plants). Mature plants need very little care.
To understand the peonies, you must know that there are 3 large groups of peonies: shrubs, herbaceous and Itoh.Each group has different characteristics and care.Here are our tips for each.
Mostly grown in China, this type of peony is not very hardy in Canada, with its zone 5 and fragility frost spring, it often causes a headache for gardeners. The tree peony is a peony whose ligneous branches with semi-evergreen leaves remain in winter, unlike herbaceous peonies, where the stems disappear every winter and overwinter.The shrubby peonies form beautiful dense and very floriferous bushes.The leaves are beautiful and the flowers are breathtaking, sometimes exceeding 30 cm in diameter.These are plants that grow in the long term, long to settle but able to live more than 100 years.
Size: In terms of care, we can not really say that the peony needs to be cut, at most a slight size in late winter to perfect the shapeinstead of just let it taking height.The cut has to be made on the stems of the previous year, on ⅓ of their length, above a bud.We must obviously eliminate stems and dead branches!
Herbaceous peonies are perennials that restart each year on the stump, in the same way as daylilies or hostas forming a small bush.
They bloom from May to July according to the varieties.They fear the rain which weakens their stems and make their imposing flowers falling, so it is better to stake them.
The herbaceous peony requires little fertilization and watering.If the soil is clay, provide good drainage.Peonies will bloom at their best if they are exposed to full sun in draining soil.
If the conditions of a good plantation are respected, the herbaceous peonies can live ... 100 years!
Size: This peony is cut about 10 cm from the ground in autumn or early spring.The flowers are cut when they are faded, but it is important to leave 2 or 3 leaves at the bottom of each stem, to protect their vegetative cycle. Do the same if you cut flowers for bouquets.
Itoh peonies (also called intersectional hybrids) represent for many in the peony market the future of the garden peony industry. Itohs have a number of advantages over either herbaceous or tree peonies:
Stronger stems that hold the flower upright even after wind and rain
Vigorous growth and extreme winter hardiness (equivalent to herbaceous peonies)
Flower colors previously only found in tree peonies (yellow, orange, flares)
Floriferous when mature (up to 50 flowers on one plant!) with flowers carried above the foliage
Healthy and attractive foliage right through fall
Symmetric, bushy shaped plant that is cut back in the fall like herbaceous peonies
Less attractive to ants than herbecaous peonies
Itoh or intersectional hybrid peonies are derived from crosses between herbaceous and tree peonies. They thrive under the same conditions as herbaceous peonies. They are best grown in the field or garden, but pots may be used for young plants (2 -3 years). Tissue cultured peonies require 2 to 3 years to reach blooming size. Itoh peonies are vigorous and it is important to leave them enough room to grow.
Dormancy and Winter Protection: Stems should be cut to just above ground level in the fall and destroyed to avoid disease carryover. Most buds of Itoh varieties are found on the crown just under the soil as for herbaceous peonies, however some buds may be found on the lower parts of the stems. These are not essential for growth and may be cut or left on the plant. Although Itoh peonies are very winter hardy, mulching is recommended for young plants and in areas of insufficient snowfall. Mulch should be removed in the spring to allow the new shoots to emerge.
Blooming: Itoh peonies will bloom in their third or fourth year from tissue culture. First year blooms are often not typical of the variety; e.g. semi-doubles may be singles the first year, or doubles may be semi-double. Second year blooms should be near normal, and the number of blooms will have doubled or more. Itoh peonies have strong stems and plants do not need to be staked.
Diseases and Pests: Peonies are tough, strong-growing plants that exhibit excellent disease resistance. The most serious peony disease is Botrytis or grey mould, which most often occurs during cold, wet springs. All affected stems should be immediately cut and destroyed and pruning shears disinfected after use. Good air circulation around plants, watering early in the day, and not watering the leaves all help to avoid disease problems.