Perfect Peonies the Princess of the Garden
Peony Photo Courtesy of Morguefile
Peonies occur in most areas of the world and have become widespread in art. They are hardy perennials with large fragrant blooms in pinks, reds, and white. They are cold weather tolerant to zone three, withstand drought conditions well, and are safe from deer and rabbits, which find they make an unappealing meal.
Growing to between 18 and 32 inches in height, peonies can take up quite a bit of real estate. They are deep rooters, frequently up to 15 inches, and their roots like to spread out. When planting, be sure to leave at least a yard between your peony and any other plants. Avoid areas with underground obstructions like the roots of trees or shrubs. Select a spot that drains well. Standing water will cause root rot and kill your peony. Fall is the time to plant this beauty, and the most common method is by division.
Divided peonies should contain a number of buds or eyes on their roots (three to five). The highest bud should be buried in rich, well-drained soil to a depth of two inches. Avoid harvesting flowers from your plant in the first and second year. Removing leaves with the flowers is unavoidable and the leaves are vital in providing nourishment to the developing plant.
Preparing Peonies for Winter
In fall, cut your peony back to ground level and remove all fallen leaves that might invite disease. For many varieties you can tell when it's time because the leaves will l turn reddish brown in color. Do not mulch your plant in fall as it needs the winter cold to go into its dormancy period.
In spring, when they begin to leaf out and flower, peonies put on an amazing show, but usually become too heavy for their stems. Provide a wire or wood support to show them to best advantage. There are commercial peony supports available that will protect your plant while still blending in with the foliage.
Long lived, with lush green foliage and flowers that can reach six inches across, peonies can make an impressive focal point in the garden if you make the effort to give then the right conditions. Try peonies in your garden this year. You may just become a peony fanatic.