Peony Envy

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Peonies are blooming right now and I am in heaven! I love the flowers for cutting, fragrance, and Wow factor. Plunk some peonies into a vase, and it looks like an arrangement by a master. You don’t need to arrange them – they just sit in a vase and say “look at me!” No one can pass them by without exclaiming, touching, or sniffing. For those who love peonies, you can extend the picking and sniffing season for about 6 weeks with a variety of peonies that bloom at different times.

There are three major types of peonies.

Pink tree peony
Pink tree peony
  • Tree Peonies-

    First off the track in early May are tree peonies which are the upper class of peonies; they seem a little snobby and too perfect and everyone loves them. Tree peonies have woody stems and lose their leaves in the fall and grow very slowly to form a small shrub. They prefer to have a little shade. The ultimate color to get for a tree peony is yellow. I still have to get one of these.  I have been burnt buying them from growers and they turn out to be white or pale pink! So, buy them in bloom if possible!

  • I went to a peony tree farm that was run by a Chinese family and took this picture of their Chinese Shar-Pei in the field
    I went to a peony tree farm that was run by a Chinese family and took this picture of their Chinese Shar-Pei in the field

    When these bloom, it is almost a sensual experience cutting the flower off the shrub.  The blooms are massive, maybe 7 inches across with beautiful centers of frilly contrasting stamens. The foliage is beautiful also and will remain throughout the season.

The coveted yellow tree peony
The coveted yellow tree peony
Paeonia 'Linne'
Paeonia ‘Linne’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Herbaceous-

    The most common and many people know this one the best.  It is the one found in gardens that someone planted 50 years earlier, and they are still going strong. The stems die to the ground in the winter just like any other perennial. I dug lots of peonies up from my mother’s garden that bloomed very sparsely, having been shaded out over the years, transplanted them to my garden in full sun, and they now bloom like gang busters. So, herbaceous ones demand full sun to bloom well.

Herbaceous peonies with nepeta make a good combo
Herbaceous peonies with nepeta make a good combo

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Itoh peony with a nice rounded shrub shape
Itoh peony with a nice rounded shrub shape
  • Itoh or Intersectional Peony- 

    Just a fancy term for a cross between a tree peony and a herbaceous one. The top growth will die down during the winter and the plants have a nice rounded shape. They are usually shorter than herbaceous ones, thus no floppy stems or staking. These like a little shade also and since they are a relatively new species, are expensive.  Prices range from $50 to $150 on line. I just bought one, it set me back $80 and is a beauty! The color is almost a coral pink, one that I have never seen in a peony.

peach-peony-patricia-s

Ants

Everyone has seen ants attracted to peony flowers and that might stop some people from cutting them and bringing them into the house. You can briefly swish the buds and blooms in a pail of water to flush them off if they bother you. Ants are attracted to the nectar secreted from the buds only and will not be on flowers in full bloom. They are not harmful to you or to the flower, so don’t try to spray them with insecticide!

English: Ants, as well as wasps, are attracted...
English: Ants, as well as wasps, are attracted to the nectar of peonies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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6 Replies to “Peony Envy”

  1. Wonderful information. Thank you. I have a friend who grows them at 7200 ft. in Arizona and I always lusted after them. She would bring plenty of cut flowers when I invited them to dinner. It was worth cooking.

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