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Did you know? The Chinese call Peonies the King of flowers or the Flower Fairy. Peonies were named in honor of Paeon, the physician of the gods.

Red Peonies

Peonies are herbaceous perennials. There are 30 species of Peonies, but some are woody shrubs. Peonies produce large, often fragrant flowers. Blooming in late Spring and early summer, Peonies come in shades of red to white or yellow. Peonies are native to Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America.

Classification of the Peony
Kingdom Plantae Plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Sub-class Dilleniidae
Order Dillendiales
Family Paeoniaceae Mallow family
Genus Paeonia L Peony P

Peonies are hardy flowering plants that need little care and live through severe winters. After becoming established in a garden, Peonies bloom each spring for many years. Peonies are also extensively grown as ornamental plants for their very large, often scented cut flowers.

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  • Two Types of Peonies are grown in home gardens:
  • 1. The garden or herbaceous type or Paeonia hybrids: these have full bushy stems that grow two to four feet tall. Garden peonies grow from tubers.

    2. Tree peony or Paeonia suffruticosa: these types often grow to eye-level height on woody stems with few branches. Tree peonies are shrub like plants grown either from seed or from grafts.

    Facts About Peonies
    Peonies are the traditional floral symbols of China
    The Roman legions first brought Peonies to England in about the year 1200. Peonies are called Mudanin China. In 1903, the Qing Dynasty declared the Peony as the national flower of China.
    Peonies were described in botanical books as early as 1636. When planted among fall-flowering perennials such as Echinacea purpurea and Eupatorumpurpureum, Peonies come into their own color once again!
    If grown in the sun, leaves of Peonies turn from green to burgundy in just one week. Peonies should be fed in early spring and again halfway through the growing season.
    The Japanese name for the Peony, Ebisugusuri means medicine from China During the dry summer months, Peonies require regular, deep watering
    In traditional folk medicine, Peony root was used as a treatment for menstrual cramps, asthma and convulsions Peonies demand very little care since they are hardy flowering plants.

    Peonies Replace the Zinnia in Indiana

    In 1957, the Indiana General Assembly passed a law to make the peony as the state flower of Indiana. It replaced the zinnia, which had been the state flower since 1931.

    Varieties of Peonies include:

    • Chinese cut flower Peonies, with large double flowers in shades of red, pink, and white.
    • Semi-double Peonies, characterized by several rows of petals and a center of petals mixed with stamens.
    • Anemone Peonies, similar to the double Chinese variety of peonies, but with a center of narrow petals.
    • Japanese Peonies, noted for the contrasting color of the center petals and their finely divided foliage.
    • Fern leaf Peonies with delicate, fern-like foliage are dwarf in stature and bloom very early.
    • Single Peonies with only a few rows of petals standing in their utter simplicity.
    • Tips for growing Peonies:

      • Both types of Peonies can be planted in early autumn. Grown peonies can also be planted in spring.
      • Plant the tuber in a well prepared bed, working compost or peat moss into the soil.
      • Dig a hole approximately eighteen inches across and 18 inches deep for each tuber.
      • Space the holes so that the plants will be at least 3 feet apart. Fill the hole about half full of soil.
      • Mix in a handful of a balanced fertilizer, such as 5-10-5 at this time.
      • Plant the garden tuber with the uppermost eye not more than 2 inches below the ground surface.
      • A tuber planted too deeply will have difficulty producing blooms. Put a little soil around the tuber and water thoroughly.
      • Then fill the hole with the remaining soil, and press down firmly.
      • Water again to settle the tuber.
      • Plant a tree peony tuber with 4-5 inches of soil covering the graft.
      • Tips for Caring for Peonies:

      • Peonies should be fed in early spring and again halfway through the growing season.
      • During the dry summer months, Peonies require regular, deep watering.
      • Cultivate a half cup of low nitrogen fertilizer into the soil when the stems are about 2 or 3 inches high.
      • Take care not to damage the roots, and try to keep the fertilizer from direct contact with them, and do not over-fertilize, as it results in weak stems and reduced flowering.
      • The feeding is important since the peony plant makes a very rapid early growth and needs this complete feeding to produce foliage and blooms.
      • For larger blooms, disbud the plant, allowing only the terminal bud to develop.
      • For quantity of flowers and a longer flowering season, leave some of the lateral buds.
      • To prevent the flowers from breaking or bending over during a strong wind or rain, provide a sturdy plant stake and tie the stem loosely to it with garden twine or strips of cloth.
      • Remove the flowers as soon as they fade to prevent seed development, which will use up needed food reserves, and affect next year’s bloom.
      • In the fall, after the foliage dies back, cut the stems back to three inches, remove and destroy them.
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