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The season of peonies has arrived! Peonies are one of our favourite flowers, and we're thrilled they've returned to season. We can enjoy the pleasures of British peonies at their peak for a limited time.
While the majority of us adore the lovely cloud-like flower, how much do you know about it?
Peonies are native to Asia, specifically near Mongolia and China, but cultivated in gardens for centuries. They were first introduced to England as an ornamental plant in the 17th century.
While initially only available in pink, the cultivar 'Ladybird' was the first yellow peony to be introduced in 1799. The cultivar 'Madame Galen' was the first white peony to be grown.
Few people know that the peony's name comes from the Greek name, “Paeon”, attributed to the physician of the gods. The myth goes that Paeon was threatened with death after outsmarting his mentor. To prevent this, Zeus turned him into a beautiful power, now now as a Peony.
Peonies can last for several weeks when cared for appropriately. They do not need daily watering but will stay longer if the soil is kept evenly moist. When caring for the plants, it's essential to watch the ground, not the calendar. If the soil is kept moist, the peonies will stay fuller longer.
Peonies can be stored in a cool place after they have dried. Place them upright in a bag, with the petals facing downward. Be sure to remove any leaves that may be attached. Then place the bag in a cool, dry place such as a refrigerator.
You can purchase a plant or plant it from seed. Many nurseries and garden centres carry peonies or grow them from seed.
If planting from seed, sow the seeds in individual pots, 1-2 inches deep. Peonies do not like being transplanted, so start them in their final pot. A container with drainage holes at the bottom is preferred, as the plants in it will receive regular watering.
Remember to choose an eight-inch container at least one-and-a-half times wider than the plant's mature size. This is because Peonies need a lot of room to grow and will get very large.
Peonies can be placed in full sun to partial shade. They prefer a place that is slightly humid but not overly hot. For this reason, it’s best to keep them indoors or around your home’s structures.
Water the peony well until water runs out the bottom. It takes time for the water to make it to the roots, so make sure the top of the pot is saturated before you move on to the next plant.
Feed the peony with a fertilizer rich in phosphorus, which will help it bloom more vibrantly. Organic options that contain bone meals or blood meals are both excellent choices. A ratio of a ¼-1/3 cup of fertilizer should be sufficient for a single plant.
Peonies need to be pruned to continue growing. When the plant gets to the desired size, prune the main stem down to several inches from the ground. Make sure to prune after the plant has finished blooming for the season.
Peonies are a colourful addition to any garden and a welcome treat for the senses. You can make it a yearly tradition to grow a new peony and experiment with different colours, or you can enjoy a beautiful peony in your home this season.
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