Peony Perennials

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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You're best off planting--that is, propagating--garden peony perennials in the fall. Those not planted until the spring often will not bloom for several years. Be sure to buy plants in "divisions" with at least four or five "eyes," because the delay until flowering can be as many as five years. Space the holes about three to four inches apart.

Because peonies are both deep rooted and long lived, now is the one time you have to prepare the soil. You want to add the fertilizer to the very bottom of the hole and above it soil treated with compost. The eyes should not be more than two inches below the surface once you've backfilled the soil over the plants. Happier in cool climates, peony perennials grow best in full sun but tolerate filtered sunlight as well.

Peony perennials are grouped into five types according to flower shape. These include the single, semi-double, double, Japanese, and anemone. Peonies are often used to great advantage as foundation planting under windows, edging walkways and fences, and massed in front of bushes and shrubs. They mix very nicely with cherry and plum trees, bearded irises, lilacs, false indigo, and snow-in-summer.

About Peony Perennials

One of the oldest plants cultivated expressly for their blooms, peonies were in cultivation in China--depending on which source you believe--anywhere from 1,400 to 4,000 years ago. The Chinese name "sho yo" means "most beautiful." The peony traveled to Japan with Buddhist monks. First mentioned in the West by Pliny in about 77 AD, the flower was noted for its medicinal value. It is first documented as being cultivated in an English garden in 1157.

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