Ariadani Peonies have often been called the Queen of the Garden and for just reasons. It is a dependable flowering plant that has become a staple in the perennial garden. Fall is an excellent time to plant new peonies or transplant existing bushes.
The peony became popular centuries ago in mythology when the mother of Apollo, Leto, gave the plant to the Plutos physician to cure wounds from the Trojan War. The Chinese adopted the plant and it became the principle flower of the Imperial Gardens. In the 18th century its charm captivated the Japanese, who developed more than 300 varieties. The plant finally made its way to European gardeners in the 19th century.
There are two groups of peonies, tree peonies and herbaceous peonies. Tree peonies grow on woody stems with few branches. These stems stay alive through winter and bloom early in the spring. They flower in a wide range of colors from yellow, purple, red, pink, and white. Tree peonies are less common in the garden as they are more particular.
Herbaceous peonies tolerate a wide range of conditions dying back to the ground each winter. Flower colors range from the traditional red, white and pink to less common yellows. There are five different types of peonies based on their petal arrangement, single, Japanese, anemone, semi-double, and double. All flower types grow well.
Peonies grow from underground crowns and have large bulky roots. They flower dependably in May and June depending on the variety. Peonies need well-drained soil and at least a half day of sun for best blooming otherwise they require little care.
Peonies are best planted or transplanted in the fall after the plants have become dormant. When purchasing bare root plants in the fall choose roots that have at least three to five eyes or buds. Smaller divisions are acceptable but will take longer to develop into a nice flowering size. Peonies are commonly potted and available for spring sales. Potted peonies should have strong shoots and healthy foliage.
When planting choose the spot carefully, as the plant may last fifty years or longer in the same location. Dig a generous size hole to accommodate the roots system and amend with organic matter. Planting depth is important for success. The eyes of the root system should only be set one to two inches below the soil surface. Planting too deep will result in poor flowering. After planting water thoroughly and wait for the spring growth to begin. It will take several years for the plants to become fully established, slowly increasing the number of blossoms.
Summer care is simple. Lightly fertilize in the spring to feed the foliage and again in the fall for root development. Water when dry and control weeds as competition will decrease flowering.
Established peonies can be transplanted or divided with a little work. Lift and divide the plants when dormant in the fall from early September through mid October. Once lifted cut the roots into divisions containing three to five eyes and replant.
There are many different varieties of peonies on the market that flower from early spring through late spring. Enjoy these Queens of the Garden as they will reward you for years to come.
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