Peonies have been a garden favorite for hundreds of years. The gorgeous flowers are delicate with silky petals and an irresistible fragrance. Imagine cutting a bouquet to grace your dinner table or to share with a special friend. Peonies are easy to grow and can live to be over 100 years old.
Three types of Peonies
There are three main types of peonies. Tree peonies, Itoh peonies and herbaceous peonies. In this Garden Answer video, Laura plants herbaceous peonies. They are small shrubs that grow to be about two to three feet tall and wide. They die back all the way to the ground in winter but reemerge in spring. They’ll grow happily in zones 3 to 7.
Flower Form and Fragrance
Herbaceous peonies are available as early, mid- and late season bloomers. By planting some from each category you can have peony flowers for months on end. They also have six different flower forms ranging from a single row of petals to exceedingly full ones called bombs. The fragrance level varies too, from a light perfume to an intoxicating mix of roses and lemon. Peony ‘Festiva Maxima’ and ‘Duchesse de Nemours’ are among the most fragrant.
Planting Herbaceous Peonies
Select a spot where peonies will get full sun and moist well-drained soil. Good air circulation is a must to prevent powdery mildew. Dig a hole wider than the nursery pot and mix in a handful of Bio-tone Starter Plus to help the plants get established. It’s also a good time to install a plant support to help hold the heavy blooms upright. Garden Answer uses a Grow Through Grid. They are very easy to use and highly effective.
After the beautiful flowers have dropped their petals, it’s a good idea to dead head them. Cut off the flower and stem far enough down that it is covered by the foliage, a foot or so. When all of the flowers are spent, fertilize with Espoma’s organic Plant-tone. This will give them the energy they need to recuperate from blooming and keep a healthy root system. Peonies don’t need to be divided. In fact, they dislike being moved. However, you should cut the foliage down to the ground before winter.
Bare Root Peonies
It is also possible to buy what is called a bare root peony. That means that the plant hasn’t been potted in soil. It’s a thick bunch of roots that may have pinkish, new shoots. Bare root peonies are generally planted in the fall about 6 weeks before the frost. Select the best site, as described above and plant them so the top of the roots are one to two inches below the ground surface. If you plant them too deep, they may not emerge. It’s a good idea to add a handful of Bio-tone Starter Plus to the planting hole to help establish a healthy foundation.
Summer flowering plants for later
Espoma Products for Peonies