The peony, also known as the Paeonia, or whitsun rose, got its name from its blooming period, which typically occurs from May to June. This colorful and often fragrant plant is popular in gardens. It was cultivated as a medicinal herb in China about 2000 years ago and spread to Europe during the Middle Ages. It is a very long-lived plant, capable of surviving for up to 100 years. Every part of it is toxic, so its domestic medicinal use is not recommended. It is highly ornamental both in the garden and as a cut flower.
Characteristics of the peony
The peony is a perennial, bushy plant that grows to a height of 70-80 cm. It prefers to grow undisturbed in one place for as long as possible. The peony is a plant with a rhizome, and within its genus, there are both herbaceous, woody-stemmed, and deciduous shrubs.
Its flowers bloom in huge shades of pink, mauve, or red. The flower has a strong, distinctive scent similar to that of a rose. Although its blooming period is not very long, its sight compensates us. From May to early July, beautiful colored flowers continuously bloom, and each bush can have as many as 20-30 flowers.
The semi-double peony has its petals arranged in two to three rows in a circular pattern, while the double varieties have flowers that open in a spherical shape composed of an abundance of petals.
Propagation of peonies
The best time for propagating peonies is during their autumn dormancy period. During this time, both division and planting can be easily carried out. Both woody-stemmed and herbaceous peonies can be propagated by sowing seeds, but the seeds tend to remain dormant for several years, so asexual propagation is more successful.
Herbaceous peonies can be propagated by dividing the thick rhizomes. Use a sharp knife to divide the rhizome, making sure that each division has several buds and an adequate root system. Then, plant them in the ground, but do not plant them too deep; the ideal depth is 5-10 cm. In late autumn, cover them with straw or leaves to protect them from severe frosts.
Planting and care of Peony
Peony tubers should be planted only 3-4 cm deep. Planting them deeper will prevent them from flowering. They require a sunny location. It is recommended to find a spot where they receive at least half a day of sunshine, as their blooming may be affected otherwise. Peonies thrive in deep, fertile, clay or loamy soil. Sandy soil can be enriched with compost. Caution should be exercised with fertilization as the plant is easily prone to burning. Avoid fertilizing in spring and summer; it is more suitable to apply nutrient enrichment before planting or during autumn.
Peonies appreciate moisture and will reward you for proper watering. Water the plant continuously during summer and provide it with a liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the flowering period. It is important to water the soil and not the plant itself.
In autumn, the fallen plant debris should always be removed. If we want large flowers, the pea-sized side buds should be removed.
It should be planted at the end of summer to allow enough time for new roots to develop before winter sets in. Most varieties are winter-hardy, but in less protected areas, it is advisable to use pine mulch or straw cover to protect the plant from the hardships of winter. It can be planted in the garden or in larger flower pots.
If it doesn’t bloom, the following could be the reasons:
- The plant has been planted too deep.
- It is receiving too much nitrogen.
- The flower is not receiving enough sunlight.
- It is not receiving enough water.
- The flower buds have been frost-damaged.
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