Peonies ((Paeonia) are breathtakingly beautiful. As soon as the petals on the flowers of this hardy perennial unfold, they become eye-catching in any summer border. The longer a peony stays planted in one spot, the richer it will flower. Peonies make very popular cut flowers!
The lovely, silky flowers and decorative foliage help to make peonies so popular. Peonies have single or double flowers and are available in all shades from pale yellow to deep red. In spring, peonies begin to grow and form buds. It’s best to snip off any side buds before they become as large as the ones on the main stems. This is called flushing. Flushing stops the flow of nutrients and allows the plant to concentrate on putting all its energy into the larger ones giving you more beautiful flowers. You may even need to support flowers that become too heavy for their stems – you can get special support rings from our collection.
The perfect soil for peonies
Peonies need good soil. They like a pH neutral, moisture-retaining, fertile soil. If the soil is too acidic (you might see moss growing), sprinkle a little lime around the plants. Give your peonies a mulch of garden compost or well-rotted manure in the autumn.
Peonies can be planted in a pretty planter, or directly into the garden. The best planting time for a peony is October and November, once the plant has died back (this happens over the autumn). You’ll soon see red shoots appear in the spring again. Peonies prefer to be in a nice sunny spot that gets a couple of hours’ shade in the morning. Plant your peonies as soon as possible after receiving them. Dig your soil over and add some compost and plant your peony with the shoots upwards, just below soil level. Peonies in breeders’ pots can be planted all year round provided it is not freezing or too hot. A peony likes to stay just where it has been planted for as long as possible; in fact, the longer the better if you want it to flower abundantly year upon year. If you need to transplant your peony, you may miss seeing any flowers for a couple of years. Once established, a peony can last a very long time.
How deep to plant a peony
If you plant your peony too deep, you may see a lack of flowers, or none at all. The shoots on the rhizome shouldn’t be planted any deeper than 5-7cm under the ground.
Peony flowering season
May, June and July are the months you’ll see this radiant plant in bloom. It’s a hardy plant that doesn’t grow any higher than 1 metre. It will usually require support for the long stems and heavy blooms. Peonies make terrific cut flowers for the home. Always cut the stems on the diagonal and stand them in a clean vase out of any draught.
Taking care of peonies
Keep the surrounding soil free of weeds, all the time the plant has stems above ground. You can remove the old stems above the ground in autumn to prevent plant diseases. Feed and mulch your peonies in the autumn. A peony can be dug up and divided if you want to create more clumps of them. Ensure you keep at least a few eyes and shoots on each part you retain for replanting. Flowering may be held back for a while after doing this – perhaps a year or two - but it’s worth it.
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