Growing Your Own Perfect Peonies
I have had a lot of question about growing your own perfect peonies. Today I am giving you all my secrets, what kind to buy, when to plant, and where to plant them.
Growing your own perfect peonies can be the most rewarding gardening experience? First of all, let me say that their is nothing better than having the ability to cut fresh flowers directly from your yard and peonies are perfect to bring inside for a fresh flower arrangements. As a floral designer a cutting garden has always been a part of our landscape plan in every home that we have lived in and this home is starting to take shape nicely. The peony garden is just one of my cutting areas, I also have a rose garden, hydrangea garden and several perennial gardens such as my English Lavender and Lilac gardens. I also strive to have a four season yard where there is always a section blooming at all times.
This year was a particularly prolific year for my peonies. Let me be the first to tell you that I was never able to grow peonies until I moved a little further north a few years back. So rule number one to consider in Growing Your Own Perfect Peonies is location or zone. I am so glad that I decided to dig up the 3 Karl Rosenfield bulbs I had in my previous yard and bring them with me to my new home, because that is when I discovered how well peonies the would do in this area.
This peony is considered a double bloom dark red. It was developed in the early 1900s and looks great, and smells amazing, they are very easy to grow and cut. Double blooms have several ruffled layers of petals without a true center but that is because the other parts of the flower develop into the petals. The outer carpels’ and inner stamens’ also develop into petals which make them look just the same as the guard petals and in some varieties making them look fuller.
After seeing how well these did I lucked up on some peonies the first year at my local garden center. I actually over heard a lady that was requesting them and the garden attendant was explaining how the Sarah Bernhardt variety was very hardy and would do well in our area. Armed with the knowledge that bulbs that had never previous bloomed were actually blooming, I took notice and grabbed 3 of those as well that day to add to my collection.
One of the largest peony types, it is also a double blossom and it is supposed to be light pastel pink in color. However mine are more of a medium pink this year, so I am not sure if this has anything to do with the ph of my soil. I am still researching that and will update you as I learn more. All I know so far is that when they set off additional shoots they can be lighter, but nothing yet about why they could be darker other than they were possibly mis-labeled? Introduced in 1906, this longtime favorite blooms dependably year after year and presents a healthy amount of emerald green foliage to add interest to the garden throughout the season. They are highly fragrant and smell fantastic.Like all peonies, this one is deer resistant, cold hardy and extremely long-lived, which are all very important things where we live since it gets cold and we have a ton of deer and wildlife. Peonies are considered perennials which means they go dormant in the winter but will return every spring. This means you will need to cut back the dead foliage in the fall and it will leave a hole in your landscape plan so keep that in mind as you plant them. For that reason I like to keep mine in areas with places that have evergreen shrubs surrounding the space to keep visual interest in the off seasons. That is just an easy tip for winter gardens when all your other pretties are not blooming.
This is one of the two varieties I added this year to hopefully get some lighter pink blossoms. Considered a soft cuddly pink double blossom with a hint of rose at the base of the bloom. Dark glossy foliage on strong stems with very healthy growth habit. Pillow Talk is an American Peony Society Gold Medal Award Winner and usually is only available to be grown from a bare root. I only had a few blossoms this year to show since I planted them mid growing season which in Georgia is May.
This is considered one of the finest specimens of a single peony. A large blossom with crepe paper petals and ruffled edges surrounding a golden yellow center, they are good for zones 3-8. Since this flower needs a little less cold weather than other varieties, it is a popular choice in the South. Very flexible stems so no staking is required, slightly fragrant and they make excellent cutting flowers with a long vase life of over a week. Deer and rabbit resistant but highly attractive to butterflies.
Peonies love a nice sunny spot with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight in well drained acidic soil. Peonies are the only bulb that never needs to be dug up and divided. In they apparently hate to be transplanted so I got really lucky with my other bulbs from the previous house, but I think it is because they were still in there first 3 years.
Another little tip I might mention is that they attract ants, very large ants. So when you cut them and bring them in, you may want to make sure that you are not bringing in any other visitors with them. Also be careful when you are cutting them too. Peonies make the perfect cut flowers when in season because they look great as a single stem cut in a glass vase. They also are very chic as a large grouping together of single color for a more dramatic statement.
If you have other flowers in season, they are also perfectly happy to mix together in various ways to create several different styles. Like these options below where I mixed some dried lavender status with a mix of all the varieties of peonies. Then we have the pitcher with a more rustic farm fresh look which has fresh catmint, white roses, and mix of peonies. Magnolia leaves would also be pretty with these or even some honeysuckle, tulips, or Cherokee rose while it is in season. There is no right or wrong flowers when using the cutting garden method, it is just whatever is in season.
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