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Growing Great Peonies

Updated on May 26, 2011


There are a few flowers that when I see them, even a picture, or read about them, my memory is activated and I take a journey back to my childhood and my mother’s garden. Hollyhocks are one. The peony is another.

The family backyard was a place for play, outdoor meals and where the dog, roamed. It was also where my mother and father tended their gardens.

Dad raised tomatoes and mom a variety of flowers. Our table, throughout the growing season, was always supplied with fresh cut flowers

There was a small bed just outside the kitchen door where chamomile grew and just across from that there was a peony bush. The peony was the first thing I saw when I stepped outside the door and entered the magical world that was my backyard.

The backyard, in those days, was a well-used space. We played croquet and had a BBQ on the weekends that we did not go to our cottage. On summer nights we would sit outback and watch the dance between the wind, birds, bees and butterflies that graced the space.

I used to watch the peony come to life and was fascinated by the ants that swarmed over it; mom used to say that the ants helped to tickle the peony buds open and that relationship intrigued me.

Even now, when I know that it is the sugars that are produced by the plant that attract the ants, I still enjoy the thought that the ants play a role in wakening the flower. It may be fantasy but it is engaging.

Peonies are perennials which have a long life. In order to best take advantage of the this longevity take the time to prepare the site well; just as important make sure the plants you purchase are good quality.

Peonies will not make many demands upon your time and will reward you with foliage all season long and magnificent blooms.

Soil: Peonies enjoy a well drained and sunny spot. To settle them in properly to their new home, you first will dig a hole that is larger than the root. Be sure to add either bone meal or compost.

Planting: First you put the peony in the prepared hole and then backfill. Make sure that the crown buds should be no more then 2 inches below the soil surface. If you pant the peony too deep, you may not see flowers for several years and this will be most disappointing.

Watering: One of my favourite aspects of peony care is the fact that they are drought tolerant. In the first year, if there is a prolonged dry period, you are best to water.

You can cut off the spent blooms when the plant has completed flowering but leave foliage in order to produce strong roots.

Peonies will add splendor to your garden, both front and back and indeed can help enhance your home’s curb appeal when planted in your front yard.

If you do not have at least one peony in your garden, give this beauty some thought; you will be happy that you did.


courtesy, flickr/normanack
courtesy, flickr/normanack

dividing peonies

tree peonies


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