When spring is in season and our mood calls for colorful and seasonal flowers, it is time to start thinking about peonies.
The peony is known to outrageously bloom from spring to summer — with impressive flowers and lush foliage all season long. It is about time to gather more background information about this perennial that easily takes your breath away.
May Welcomes the Peony
There are few plants that produce such impressive flowers as the peony. But their appearances are deceptive when they are still in bud and not the prettiest of the lot. But once they start to bloom in May, they undergo an explosive transformation and an incredible number of delicate petals appear in no time.
When Is Peony Season?
The peony is native to Asia, Europe, and Western North America. It is a seasonal flower and its availability does depend on the weather. Generally speaking, peonies bloom in May and June. Peonies are perennials that come back every year to take your breath away. In fact, a few of the plants may live longer than you will — some have been known to thrive for at least 100 years.
The Different Peony Varieties
Coming in a little more than a thousand varieties going from white to pink, to red and in several variations of orange salmon, it is available in all sorts of colors and shapes. Some have double sets of flowers or a single row of petals. The peony requires loose soil with enough food, and especially no competition with other weeds.
The Origins of Peonies
Peonies originate from China, where they have been cultivated as trees since the 7th century. Placed under imperial protectorate in China by Yang Ti (605-618) and declared a national flower in 1903, the peony was imported to Japan around 700 and quickly became the ornamental flower of higher standards.
Japanese horticulturalists are the source of many varieties of peonies, with very pure shades of reds without blue, alkaline pinks, and pristine whites.
"As Big as Cabbages"
Marco Polo already spoke of these "roses as big as cabbages"; symbols of wealth and honor, love, and feminine beauty. In Europe, until 1787, the medicinal virtues of the peony were known. The Europeans remained insensitive to its charms until the introduction of an ornamental variety in England by the East India Company.
Shortly after, in France, the Chinese Emperor offered specimens of a rare peony beauty to Joséphine de Bonaparte. She was completely seduced and made them the most famous flowers in the park of Malmaison in France.
It was not until the 18th century, through missionaries, that peonies began to reach the West before an Austrian botanist Joseph Francis Rock reintroduced them at the beginning of the 20th century. Lemoine (1823-1911) made crosses of botanical species to obtain more and more sophisticated and robust hybrids, including the variety best known today, “Paeonia Lactiflora”, also called the Chinese Peony.
The Cultivation of Peonies
The flowering can take place earlier in the year by the use of tunnels, but this 'hack' or technique can only be done every 2 to 3 years. When cutting, it is very important to leave a pair of leaves on the plant. This way, the plant can replenish its nutrient reserves for the following year with enough sunlight.
At the end of summer, the peony loses its leaves and it can then be transplanted until October. Peonies do not like to be transplanted. In principle, they lose one year of production, every 6 to 8 years. It is important to replant new claws so that the plants can renew. It is especially important so you can easily adapt to the market with new varieties. Recently, for example, many hybrid varieties from Japan appear to the delight of the eyes.
Image courtesy: Seed Flora
More Peony Information
Curious to learn more about this fascinating flower that outrageously blooms? Learn about the flower that is known to easily take over entire wedding flower themes and living rooms during spring. Get to know My Peony Society
on Thursd and stay tuned for more articles and blogs about these seductive beauties.