Never underestimate the power of the well placed peony.
Paeonia is from the god Paeon, the student of Asclepius, Greek god of medicine and healing. I find them to be visually healing, don’t you?
I often wonder why these beautiful plants fell out of favor.
Was it because they only bloom once a year?
You can now get Itoh (intersectional) peonies which bloom later in the summer giving you a more staggered bloom time. I’m thinking about adding one to my collection, but they are still very pricey.
From Harvey Buchite for the American Peony Society, who explains them better than I:
“Intersectional peonies are derived by crossing peonies from one section of the genus Paeonia with those from another. There are three sections in the genus Paeonia, and within at least the Section Paeon, a great diversity in species. It is not very likely that all intersectional peonies will look similar to each other as different species are successfully used in this type of cross. By far the greatest number of Intersectional peonies result from Lactiflora Group pod parents pollinated with Lutea Hybrid Group woody peonies. These are properly termed Itoh Group peonies in recognition of Toichi Itoh of Japan who was the first person to have success with this cross. His hybrids became available to commerce in limited numbers in 1969 through the efforts of Louis Smirnow.”
I would love later bloom, but frankly, who cares when they look like this? I think of them like the once-blooming roses I have, they usually give me a month of true bloom. Some reblooming roses only bloom a bit monthly, and then not through the heat of summer. Therefore, once blooming plants often outdo the rebloomers. During the summer, I’ve learned to rely on other perennials, annuals and tropicals for flowers then.
I have one tree peony, and it bloomed very early. It was beautiful, and I may plant another someday.
Peonies were once the national flower of China and are still much beloved by the people. They are also an essential element of their artwork, both drawn and painted stylistically and realistically. If you look for them, you’ll find them, sometimes featured, but often in the background. The plum blossom (inferior in my opinion) is now the national flower.
The herbaceous peonies (most often found in stores) are extremely easy to grow. Their only problem in my garden is leaf disease. According to the peony authorities, some of these diseases are fatal, but the ones on my peonies never have been. I used to spray them, but saw it didn’t have much effect. Now, I just keep the areas around them clean and occasionally spray with compost tea. It seems to help them ward it off. Also, when the leaves are killed by frost in fall, I go ahead and remove them cleaning up any debris. I also remove any spent blossoms promptly to prevent disease. Any diseases they’ve had over the years didn’t stop them from blooming well, although late freezes sometimes kill the blossoms before they open. Not so this year.
With no late freeze, my peonies look their very best. To keep the blooms upright, I use simple green cages or hoops to hold the stems. Most of the above peonies weren’t expensive. I rescued many of them from the box stores over the years when they didn’t sell. It takes about three years for peonies to reach their full potential.
They are among my favorite flowers. Long lived and easy to grow, peonies can live to be 100 years old or more.