Herbaceous peonies (Paeonia sp.) are among my favorite flowers. Peonies are easy to grow and will reward you with armfuls of luscious blooms every May into June in the Mid-Atlantic United States. Once established, the only care they need is to cut back the dying foliage in autumn.
Select a sunny, well-draining spot in your garden for your peonies. Be sure to give them space to grow as well, since this perennial grows to shrub-like proportions in a single season. Having said that, herbaceous peonies really do play well with others in your perennial borders, combining well with roses, catmint, salvias, and clematis.
The only “trick” to herbaceous peonies is not to plant them too deep. When you get a peony root division, you will see the reddish “eyes” (new emerging plants). Plant them with the tips of the roots pointed downward and the eyes set just below the surface of the soil. Amend the planting hole with peat and then mulch it over very lightly with leaf compost. Do not add in any fertilizer.
Herbaceous peonies are shallow-rooted, so try not to dig or bother the plants too much around their crown area. When you weed around it, just cut the nearby weeds off at the soil level.
You may have to give the heavy blooms some staking and support, but I find that if I cut them at the bud stage to enjoy indoors often enough, I don’t have to worry about the characteristic peony flop.
If a storm is brewing and your peonies are in full bloom, run out and cut all the blossoms that you can. A hard rain can often pummel and destroy these beautiful flowers.
Peonies are long-lived plants. Some can last for a century or more. They are also great plants to divide and share with other flower lovers. Whether you choose an heirloom peony like ‘Festiva Maxima’ or a newer selection such as ‘Green Halo,’ a peony is a must-have addition to your garden.
Herbaceous Peonies - You Can Grow That!
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