Peonies 101

It’s no secret that I adore Peonies and one day I will have my own Peony garden! I am lustfully drawn to their full & lush blooms and feather like elegance, which are stunning & whimsical. Peonies are fancy & delicately pretty and they can dress up a room with so much graceful sophistication & therefore are absolutely perfect for entertaining.
As you can imagine, I was so disheartened that I couldn’t have them for my wedding day (I guess that’s what happens when you get married in September instead of May/June) 😦 Although, thankfully my Birthday is in May 😉
Since Peonies are currently in season (so excited!!) & my Birthday is right around the corner (hint! hint!) I thought it would be perfect to do a Peony 101 post on all things Peony, courtesy of the always fabulous, Martha Stewart.
There are two main types of peonies: herbaceous and woody tree peony plants.
Herbaceous Peony
Herbaceous peonies are perennial bush plants, growing 3 feet high and dying down to ground level in fall with new growth emerging in spring.
Woody Tree Peony
Woody tree peonies are shrubs, producing woody shoots that remain above ground year, like a hydrangea.
Intersectional Peony Hybrid
Intersectional peony hybrid plants combine the traits and gene pools of both herbaceous and woody peonies to create a herbaceous plant with the flowers and foliage of a tree peony. Created after World War II by a Japanese man named Itoh, this variety is not widely available because it is slow to propagate and is mainly purchased by peony collectors.

♥ Planting Peonies How-To
1. The peony root consists of the eyes, crown, or brain tissue and root system full of stored energy. Plant the peony root in a sunny area, away from large trees or shrub roots, with the eyes up, in well drained food friable soil. The eyes should be 2 inches from the surface.
2. After planting, make sure the peony has mulch, water, and a lot of sun during the blooming season, which is mid-May to mid-June.
While the beauty and elegance of peonies could seem intimidating to a novice gardener, caring for them is much simpler than you might think.
“Peonies are easy!” says Kathleen Gagan, owner of Peony’s Envy in Bernardsville, New Jersey. “They’re disease-resistant, so they don’t need pesticides, and once established, they don’t need a lot of water.
The key is patience — peonies can take a few years to settle in once planted, but they’ll live for hundreds of years. Think of it as a long-term relationship.
♥ Growing Tips
Peonies grow from zones 3 to 8, and while herbaceous peonies crave lots of sunshine, tree peonies like dappled shade. The best time to plant is generally the first week of April.
When selecting herbaceous peony roots to plant, look for healthy, fleshy firm roots (like firm carrots) and abundant eyes. As you plant, it’s important to position the eyes of the root at the right depth. This varies by zone — in general you’ll want the eyes closer to the surface the warmer your climate.
Tree peonies are difficult to find, but if you can get them they’re worth the investment. To plant, find where the root and stem meet, and plant 1 inch deeper. The trees can grow 7 to 8 feet tall over their lifetime — and keep in mind that they can live hundreds of years!
♥ Refrigerator Storage
Peonies make great cut flowers, and they’re easy to store in your fridge for later use. Simply cut them before they’re open, when they’re tight and still hard like marbles. Then, wrap them in newspaper, place rubber bands on the ends, and store them on their sides in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can store them upright in flower sleeves and a little bit of water.
 Peony Forms
Peonies come in eight forms, or shapes. No matter your growing environment or flower preference, there is a peony to suit any style.

This early-blooming peony makes a great garden plant. It’s low-growing — around 2 inches tall — and usually doesn’t require staking.

Revered for their prolific blooming, these peonies look like big daisies. They do well with a bit of shade in the afternoon to protect the flowers from the heat of the midday sun. Singles are a lighter flower form, so they usually don’t need staking.

This is another heavy-blooming plant. Its flowers feature two or three layers of guard petals and need to be protected from the hot afternoon sun. There is no need to stake the plants.

Chrysanthemums are many-petaled flowers, with 5-10 layers of guard petals that get smaller as they approach the center. They prefer full sunshine.
Rose (P&C Favorite!)

Rose peonies feature a strong rose-like scent and lots of petals. Their petals are larger near the outside of the flower. These blooms are beautiful as cut flowers.
Golden Circle

This striking variety is Martha’s favorite peony form. They have big, full flowers with wonderful blooms.

With their large, wide outer guard petals and tight, curly center petals, these peonies are shaped like ice cream scoops. When fully open, the guard petals fold all the way back and the flowers look like big balls in the garden.
Hundred Proliferate

These flowers contain the most petals out of any peony form — at least 100 each. They are so full that you can hardly see the distinction between guard petals and center petals. They’re widely known as the best form for cut flowers!
♥ Beautiful!
{Images: 1-3, 5 & 6 Pinterest; 4 The Knot; Small Individual peony photos courtesy of Peony’s Envy}
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One Response to Peonies 101

  1. Ms. J. says:

    Thanks for the crash course on peonies. Btw, I like the crown peony the best.

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