Peonies – also called peonies – are among the most beautiful in the home garden. From planting peonies to cutting – you can find out everything here. A peony (botanical: Paeonia ) can impress the owner in many ways – be it in the garden as a beautiful perennial or as a shrub with lush flowers, which can also smell excellent.
The possibility of placing this plant in the vase on the living room table makes it even more attractive. If you are well informed about the many different aspects of the peony, you can help it to bloom beautifully with the right care. This requires a little dedication and patience, but the result is definitely worth it.
Peonies: Properties, Origin, And Meaning
The plant family Paeoniaceae only includes a single genus with around 32 species, which have both different flower colors and shapes. These are divided into two separate groups: shrub peonies and perennial peonies. The former comes from the mountains of China, while shrubby peonies are native to China as well as Europe, North Africa, and America. Its name goes back to Greek mythology and is based on the doctor of the Olympian gods, Paion, as this plant was often used for medicinal purposes in ancient times.
Peony: growth forms
What is important about the genus of peonies is that there are two types of growth. Since both can differ in growth as well as in maintenance and requirements, this is crucial for satisfactory planning implementation.
- Perennial Peonies
These do not form woody shoots and, like other perennials, let the above-ground parts of the plant die off in autumn. In addition, the height and width of growth can differ from those of the shrub peony.
- Shrub peonies
These peonies have woody shoots and thus resemble the classic shrub. However, the space requirement of a shrub peony is often much larger than that of a perennial peony. There is not much difference in flower shapes and colors, as there are a large number of different cultivated forms.
In Central Europe, the time of the flower pile extends from April to June. Shortly before flowering, the flower buds swell up to the size of golf balls, before the individual flowers delight the garden owner with their blaze of color for about two weeks.
Peonies: The most popular and most beautiful varieties
There is a wide range of species and cultivars in the genus Paeonia. The varieties of the peonies listed below are initially sorted according to their flower color. For detailed descriptions of these and many other species and varieties, you can find our expert article on the best peony varieties here. This contains a detailed overview as well as appealing pictures for each plant.
Propagate peonies yourself
If you want to propagate peonies yourself, you can do this in two different ways: vegetatively or generatively. In vegetative propagation, the rootstocks of the mother plant are divided and replanted separately from each other. During generative reproduction, on the other hand, the ripe seeds are sown and used to make new specimens. In both approaches, there are relevant differences between herbaceous and shrub peony in terms of dividing and planting. The two different types of propagation also have both advantages and disadvantages.
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For the peony to come into its own with all its advantages, a good knowledge of your preferences with the location is immensely important. Should this deviate significantly from its natural location, the peony (no matter what kind or variety) will always bend over and never be able to develop its full potential?
Planting peonies: the right location
The location of a peony should not be in the sun all day or within the shade all day. So a place where the plant gets half a day’s length of the sun is ideal. The soil should be light and in no way have the risk of water stagnation.
Since there are other important notes, details, and important differences between shrub and perennial peonies, we have dedicated a separate article to this topic.
Planting peonies: when is the ideal time?
A simple rule here is to give preference to autumn. The purchased plants are delivered bare-rooted and this also ensures that the correct planting depth is maintained. In addition, planting at this time does not hold as much potential danger as in spring, when the specimen has already formed the first sensitive shoots.
Planting peonies: the procedure
Even before the spade hits the ground, it is important to think about the work steps ahead. These steps are briefly mentioned below:
- Choose the right location in terms of space, light, and ground conditions
- Dig the planting hole
- If necessary, prepare the existing soil with a view to nutrients and drainage
- Observe the correct planting depth (caution: differences between shrub and perennial peonies)
Peonies in the pot
With this variant, it is important to remember that the peonies in the pot can only look good for a short time. After a growing season, you should therefore consider reserving a place for the plants in your own garden, as otherwise, the root growth will quickly reach its limits due to the tightness of the pot.
Peonies in a pot: the right substrate
The plant substrate has similar properties to the natural soil in which peonies thrive. Therefore, the same applies here: waterlogging is fatal. You should therefore ensure that there is functional drainage inside the pot. Apart from that, peat-free organic potting soil is ideal for the peony.
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Everything that grows and flourishes develops ever greater demands on light, water, nutrients, and space. Changes such as competition or footpaths in the environment also have a major impact on the plants in their location. External factors can, for example, be people walking by, which cause damage, which in turn can lead to infections. In this case, thought should be given to transplant the plant to a new location.
Peonies: why transplant?
In most cases, the need to replant results from the lack of space that occurs when the peony becomes significantly larger than originally planned. Other reasons could be a lack of light or water, for example, due to surrounding plants that have also grown very large. You will recognize this when the peony loses its flowering capacity every year or has to be watered noticeably often despite the damp weather.
Peonies: how to transplant
Here is a summary of the most important steps for digging up and replanting the peonies.
- Carefully dig up the peony
- Remove root areas from the earth with water
- Cutaway dried-up parts of the root
- Choose the correct new location
- Dig the planting hole and prepare the soil if necessary
- Plant the peony in a new location
Peonies offer such great potential for enhancing your own garden that it would be almost a shame not to want to exploit it. And this is not only possible for specialists, but can also be successfully done by hobby gardeners, provided that you take a few facts about the right fertilization to heart.
Fertilizing peonies: when and how often to fertilize?
If you want to develop the mentioned potential of the peony, this will of course also has its (nutritional) price. Everyone would think so at first, but the plants are satisfied with just a few fertilizers. The important factor here is the right time of fertilization. This falls in spring in March and then again in August.
Fertilizing peonies: which fertilizer is suitable?
Since the peony is one of the plants that are already satisfied with fewer nutrients, it is advisable not to use rich mineral liquid fertilizers. A primarily long-term organic flower fertilizer is the best option for the plant and the environment.
By cutting it is possible to change the shape of the plant or to create new growth stimuli. There are various cutting measures. Each one has its specific purpose and also its optimal point in time.
Cutting peonies: the ideal time
The season of pruning for peonies is between summer and winter. The exact time depends on the type of cut and is therefore in the period from June to December.
Cutting peonies: procedure
The different approaches to care and the topiary vary depending on whether dead plant parts are to be removed or pruning is carried out at ground level. The latter is quite rare but can be an advantage if the growth of the peony is very poor. In addition, the cut methods of herbaceous peonies differ from those of shrub peonies, which must be observed in each case.
Peonies in the vase
Like many other plants, peonies can also be used as cut flowers for decoration. Thanks to its attractive flower shapes and colors, this plant can greatly enrich life in your own four walls. The most important thing when cutting the peony is to use a sharp cutting tool because a blunt tool can crush the stems very quickly and the cut becomes unclean.
Are peonies poisonous?
The use of the peony as a medicinal plant suggests that there are substances within the peony that can have certain effects on the human body.