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Growing Gorgeous Peonies

Perennial Favorites and Fragrant, Too

Garden peonies

Peonies have been a Midwestern garden favorite for as long as I can remember. We always had these beautiful plants at home, as did other family members.

In May and June, when they bloom, we had beautiful and fragrant bouquets in the house.

I’ve grown a few peonies in my time. If you live in a climate where you get some cold weather in the winter (necessary for the plants to bloom in the coming year) you will be able to add this long-lived perennial to your garden or landscape.

You will need a few things to successfully grow peonies.

Peony Nick Shaylor

What Do You Need to Grow Peonies?

When you garden in a zone with some cold in the winter, you can grow peonies. Once established, they are winter hardy to Zone 3, showing their origins in Siberia, China and Japan.

Paeonia are usually free of insects and diseases, and when they are not sporting their showy flowers, they provide dark green foliage for your herbaceous border or landscaping.

Peonies are easy to grow.

You’ll need good stock, good and well-drained soil, and a sunny location. That’s it.

Just one more thing…when you plant them, be sure to get the depth right. Like Goldilocks, not too shallow and not too deep. Use a straight ruler or shovel handle across your planting hole for some help, to accurately replant the peony at the same depth as it was growing in the nursery.

I also recommend that you choose a location where you’ll want them to stay for a long time. You can move and divide them, but they’d rather you didn’t.

You can plant in spring, though fall is ideal because the plants are dormant. Either way, keep an eye on them their first year, and mulch for the winter if you planted in the fall.

After that, your peonies will bloom for years if you got the depth right. Still going strong after 50 years is not unheard of. Undisturbed peonies can bloom for 100 years. Now that’s a perennial!

Peony in vase

More Peony Growing Tips

Your peonies will make great cut flowers if you follow these tips…

  • Support your peony plants to keep the blooms upright, especially in windy or wet weather. These support are similar to what you find for tomatoes, but generally greater diameter.
  • Trim off the side buds on each flower stalk, leaving only the terminal flower bud, to get the biggest blooms.
  • Leave the stems long on the peony plant, so that it can use those leaves to build next year’s flowers.
  • Cut blooms when the flower is just beginning to open. They will continue on indoors, and you’ll get a week or so to enjoy your beautiful peony flowers.

I like named peony varieties, but the unnamed ones are wonderful as well. I’m sure the ones my folks had years ago were not named, but they produced great flowers and were often fragrant as well.

You’ll see some samples of lovely peony plants available through garden centers, both on and off line. I also encourage you to visit your local nurseries, if peonies are on your mind. When you get to see some of the plants in person, you could be hooked…

 

 

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