Prior to receiving a large garbage bag full of roots with the instructions to plant them in sun at the same depth at which they were previously planted; I’d never payed any attention to peonies. Oh yeah, in Austria they’re called Pfingstrosen and they bloom just about the time of Pentacost (Pfingsten) which we’re currently celebrating.
Honestly, I don’t know much about them but I’m really happy to have them. They’re huge, elegant, and they smell AMAZING – a little bit like Jasmine and Rose combined. Mine are, according my experience, medium in scent – my entire bedroom is perfumed; however, I’ve had flowers upstairs that I could smell from the frontdoor (which I would base as strong-scented).
Here’s what I’ve learned in the year that I’ve had these plants:
- Peonies originate in Asia. The peony is named after the Greek medical student Paeon who was saved from the wrath of his teacher Asclepius (Greek god of medicine & healing) by Zeus by turning him into the flower.
- there seems to be four growing types: woodland, intersectional, herbacious, and tree. Mine are intersectional & a hybrid – meaning they’ve been bred to resist one thing or the other and to form their flowers in a certain way, the blooms tend to hang, & the leaves will stay green throughout the summer, die back in fall, & require trimming for the winter. During the winter, the plant spreads it’s roots further and in the spring, as occurred this spring, they take over another 6 inches of my garden – more for me!
- They come in a variety of colors – from the palest white to the deepest purplish-black – and shapes – from single to a bomb (mine can either be defined as a ‘Hundred Proliferate’ or ‘Crown’ shape; still working on classifying which hybrid it is).
- like Rhubarb, they will return each spring (one of the first out of the ground), require very little care if they’ve been properly set, should be planted in fall, need to be divided every 5 yrs or so for optimum health, and will provide pleasure for generations.
- they like full sun – mine are receiving about 8 hrs per day in the spring, perhaps 10hrs in summer but they are planted next to a western hedge (no afternoon sun). This means that they tend to reach for the remaining afteroon sun and grow out eatward instead of up. This happens to a lot of my plants as the ideal spot has been given to the highbed.
- in general, propagation occurs by root division. The flowers do produce seeds but the resulting flower will often not be identical to the original flower/plant due to hybridation.
- peony flowers tend to be visited by ants – no worries, they’re just collecting sap, let them be. It’s normal. They do fall victum to a few viruses and diseases but mine have been lucky so far.
- the flowers make amazing cut flowers that last a long time – the hanging version like mine are usually trimmed short on their stems and floated in a bowl of water. I’ve noticed that upon trimming the just opened blooms (they should be trimmed when still closed) and arranging them in their vase, the blooms spread all the way open and were just divine. Some are defined as dinner-plate blossoms given the breadth of the spread; perhaps I’ll try floating a new blossom in a bowl of water in a few weeks.
For more Information on Peonies: http://peonysenvy.com/peonycare.html
I’m fascinated with this wonderful plant/flower & observing it as it continues to settle into it’s new home and develop. And I’m really enjoying the amazingly fresh perfume they grace my home with.