Thursday, June 4, 2009

Peonies - Herbaceous

Way back when, I knew only these as peonies, and I suspect that's where most of us started out. Tree peonies just weren't grown where I lived when I was growing up. These are the peonies (pineys in local dialect) that are blooming now in most of the cemeteries around here. Usually they bloom around Memorial Day. The name peony is derived from Paeon, a mythical physician, who was turned into the flower by the god Pluto to save him from death at the hands of his teacher, the physician Aesculapius, who was jealous of his healing powers.
Today's pictures are of the three colors and the form that most people associate with peonies. White, pink and red and a very large, full bloom. While I love these, their downside is that when it rains a lot, like it has here this year, if you haven't provided some sort of support for the plant, the blossoms get so heavy that they may end up face down in the mud. Not a pretty sight.
This first on is 'Prairie Belle'. It is not one of the old standards, but looks pretty much like it.
Next is 'Dresden Pink'.

And the last picture for this morning is 'Red Dandy'. None of these are the old ones that you could buy in the feed store, but are close enough in looks that you probably couldn't tell them apart.

When you go to buy a peony, always look for a division that is at least 3-5 eyes. More is better because you will get bloom sooner and isn't that why you're buying a peony in the first place??? As with tree peonies, bare-root plants can only be dug and transplanted in the fall. Potted ones can be planted any time during the growing season. If you order peonies by mail order expect them in the fall, though you probably are better off ordering in the spring when the catalogs first arrive because stock on the nicer ones is often limited and sells out quickly. Most peony nurseries are family businesses, not large companies and although they may stock a large variety, may not have a huge number of each one.
Peony leaves vary from the very thin and grassy to wide and rounded lobes. The plants can be a foot tall or up to 5 feet. Blooms can be as small as an inch or 2 or up to maybe 10 inches and can be single, semi-double or double. Peonies come in all flower colors except blue, though yellows aren't very common. The bloom season here starts in late spring and continues for 6 - 8 weeks. The more different varieties, the better chance for prolonging the bloom season.
Tomorrow I'll start with some species peonies, since that's where all of the hybrids originate.

1 comment:

Sylvia (England) said...

Jane, I do agree with you about the wet, the heads hang down and the buds can rot before they open. I love peonies for their shoots in spring, the leaves in summer and the brief but beautiful flowers. Also they are long lived and easy plants - I want more peonies! Great posts, thank you.

Best wishes Sylvia (England)