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A Focus on Peonies

They look absolutely fabulous but they are so much more than that, they are full of meaning and with a variety of different types available from the fairly rare Itoh peonies, to the larger flowered tree variety and the traditional herbaceous peonies, gardeners and flower lovers are spoilt for choice. Viewed as symbolic of love, honour, happiness, wealth and beauty, the peony is traditionally given on special occasions and is an integral part of many bridal bouquets.

In the UK peonies begin to flower from April onwards with coral peonies appearing first followed by the classic pink peony in the early days of summer. But how much do you know about peonies? We thought we would put together a Focus on Peonies, so let’s start with a few facts:

A Focus on Peonies – Peony Facts

  • There are around 40 species of peony that originate from Asia, Europe and North America.
  • The majority of peonies found in gardens are hybrids.
  • Peony flowers can reach up to 10 inches in diameter. 
  • They are bowl-shaped and available in all colours except blue.
  • Some are scented.
  • They make great cut flowers.
  • Peonies are able to perform self-pollination.
  • Golden Valley Plants stock three varieties, the fairly rare Itoh peonies, the tree variety and the more traditional herbaceous variety. We supply the Itoh & herbaceous peonies as shoots in a pot and the tree peony with just the woody framework.
  • They make great gifts and can live for many years.

A Focus on Peonies – Peony Varieties 

The Herbaceous Peony is the most common type of garden peony and their stems die back to the ground each winter. In late May or early June they produce long stems topped with fat buds that open into large, opulent flowers. Herbaceous peonies can be planted in both spring and autumn and like most long-lived perennials, they can take three years to bloom prolifically but they are worth the wait! 

You might like Peony Shirley Temple which is a truly beautiful, low maintenance, Peony with a delightful fragrance and double flowers which open from soft pink buds into large pale pink blossoms packed with ruffled petals. The petals fade to white as they age. They make excellent cut flowers with a long vase life.

The Tree Peony is a woody, deciduous shrub peony that produces gorgeous goblet-shaped flowers in May and June. They lose their foliage in the autumn but their woody stems do not die back to the ground like herbaceous peonies. Tree peonies are very slow-growers and may take three years before new plants fully establish and begin to flower. Once established, they are long-lived and need little maintenance.

You might like Peony Coral Charm which produces sweetly scented ruffled flowers from late spring to early summer. The large flowers open salmon pink, before changing to orange and finishing yellow. They are ideal for borders or containers making a wonderful addition to your garden, they also make outstanding cut flowers.

The Itoh Peony blooms a little later in the spring and tends to have a longer bloom time. Like tree peonies, they have large, long-lasting blooms and strong stems that do not require staking. They need to be treated in a similar way to herbaceous and tree peonies since they are a hybrid of both. Once the plant has matured, it is best to trim back so that the herbaceous portion of the stem is removed and the hardwood portion remains.

You might like Peony Itoh Julia Rose which produces colour-changing blooms in late spring/early summer and also a spicy scent. The flowers begin as red buds which then change to shades of orange, pink, purple and yellow as they age. They also make for great cut flowers and are suitable for containers.

You can buy peonies online and see our full range available.

A Focus on Peonies – How to Grow Peonies

Peonies are easy to grow and will tolerate pretty much any soil type, in a sunny or partly shaded location, they will bloom best in warm, bright spots. They don’t like to compete for sunlight, food or moisture so it’s a good idea to plant them away from tall trees or thick shrubs. They must be grown in deep, fertile soil that is moisture-rich and drains well. Water regularly until established.

You may need to stake the flowers, due to size, to avoid drooping. Stakes can be purchased and are easily available. Make sure you buy stakes that are long enough to sit around 25% underground and place them a few inches away from the flower that needs supporting and gently attach string to hold in place. 

If you would like more detailed information on how to grow peonies you may find this article in Gardeners World of interest. How to Grow Peonies.