Peony flowers are classified as “doubles” huge round balls with many petals, however semi-doubles with fewer petals and “single” with one sparser row of overlapping petals surrounding a handsome cluster of gold stamens in the center and “Japanese’s” single with a nest of showy, petal like stamens in the center. Moreover colors range from dark maroon, to bright red, to pink, to white and occasionally yellow. Many especially the pale ones, are fragrant.

They grow on long, arching stems in a mound of dark green foliage about three feet high and three feet wide. The plants do not bloom for long, although you can choose varieties that bloom for several overlapping periods, and the foliage is attractive all summer and into fall, when it turns a pleasing gold color. Paeonia tenuifolia (fern-leaved peony) is low growing and admired for both its handsome foliage and its dark red flowers. “Tree peonies” are really shrubs that grow into a mound about five feet high and five feet wide; there is a wider range of flower colors among the tree peonies than with the herbaceous kind, including yellows, golds and some with spectacular streaked markings.

By choosing a selection of early, midseason and late varieties you can keep a peony bed in bloom for as long as six weeks, this is a good idea because they make a good cut flower as well as a grand show in the garden. Some of the many hybrid peony varieties are Kansas a bright red double Festiva Maxima a beautiful variety over hundred years old, which is a white-flecked double with traces of red; and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt a pale pink double.

If you want to grow “Peonies” then you should plant in fall in deep, well-drained soil enriched with organic matter. Thus, making sure the eyes is no more than two inches below the soil surface, because planting too deep may result in failure to bloom. Peonies usually do very well when planted right, even though they may take a few years to get established and bloom well. They are not suitable for climates with very warm winters.

Staking with peony rings will keep the blooms more attractive, particularly when it rains. If you have planted your peonies correctly and they still do not bloom after several years, other conditions may be at fault, such as excessive moisture or drought, too much heat or too much shade, as well as various pests and diseases. To keep plants healthy, always clean up dead foliage at the season’s end. Heavy feeding may also encourage the plants to bloom. Dig a trowelful of a balanced fertilizer into the soil around each one in early spring and again after flowering. 2

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