Information on Peonies

Overview

The name peony refers to a wide variety of plants that come from the genus Paeonia. While some are herbaceous (non-woody) plants, others are trees. Peonies are grown for their beauty and pleasant scent, making them popular perennial flowers. Besides producing showy flowers, their foliage is striking. Long after the flowers fade, the shrubbery continues to beautify a landscape. Although they're landscape flowers, peonies are often considered country plants and are closely linked with farmhouses and open fields.

Features

Peonies are typically associated with Asian gardens, but also grow wild throughout the northern hemisphere. Peonies grow from 2 to 4 feet tall, according to Ohio Online.com. These plants live exceptionally long and typically remain undisturbed, growing in the same spot for years. Peonies in a family garden could be there for several family generations, according to the Peony Flowers website.

Types

Single peonies, such as Scarlet O'Hara and Sea Shell, have only a few broad petals with a single row surrounding a mass of pollen-bearing stamens and carpels. Japanese blooms have stamens with filaments with exceptionally broad anthers such as Madame Butterfly. Semi-doubles contain filaments and have wider abnormal blooms of different widths and include Paula Fay and Miss America. The bomb blooms, such as Raspberry Sunday, have carpels and stamens, that are considerably wider without a crown. The full double blooms have all its stamens and carpels developed into petals and looks like guard petals, with Gardenia and Kansas as examples.

Benefits

The large exquisite blossoms of a peony are often used as cut flowers, while the plant's foliage serves as a background for other perennials and annuals. They're often used as borders, shrubs, walls or fences. Besides landscaping purposes, parts of the peonies are widely used in Chinese medicine and for alleviating swelling and pain in traumatic injuries. Other medical uses include clearing away congealed blood caused from severe bruises or bumps and treating boils and carbuncles.

Diseases and Pests

Botrytis blight and leaf blotch are the problems peonies encounter most, typically in wet spring weather. Other fungal diseases are Verticillum wilt and Phytophthora blight, which are soil-borne fungi. Scales are the only insects that afflict peonies and are seen on leaf bases and stalks in late summer. To control scales, gardeners must remove plant material, then apply an insecticide.

Considerations

Peonies do well in most any type of high-quality and well-drained garden soil. They need full sunlight. Peonies don't grow well when planted too close to trees because tree roots compete for both moisture and food. In more open locations, peonies need more water to prevent suffering from drought conditions.

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About this Author

Venice Kichura has written on a variety of topics for various websites, such as Suite 101 and Associated Content since 2005. She's written articles published in print publications and stories for books such as "God Allows U-Turns." She's a graduate of the University of Texas and has worked in both Florida and Connecticut schools.