Garden peonies are popular, long-lived perennials that produce beautiful flowers in the spring. Foliage stays lush and green all season long. The Japanese peonies are a variety of peony where the blossom is lighter in weight so it is less likely to flop over like the heavier flower types. Japanese peonies typically do not need to be staked to keep its upright growth. If left undisturbed, Japanese peonies can flower for more than 50 years. It only needs to be divided every 10 to 15 years.
Japanese peonies grow 2 to 3 feet tall and mature plants spread 3 to 5 feet wide. These flowers bear blossoms that are 3 to 6 inches in diameter. The fragrant flowers appear in May or early June in white, pale yellow, pink, rose and red. Japanese peony blossoms have 5 or more large petals surrounding long, thin central petals.
Plant Japanese peonies in September to give the flower time to establish its root system before winter. Pick out a sunny, well-draining site that is not near trees or large shrubs. This perennial does not like competition for light, water or nutrients which stunts plant growth and limits flowering. The roots rot when planted in wet, poor draining soil.
Deadhead Japanese peonies to remove dying flowers to improve the appearance and to prevent seed formation. The growth of seeds will reduce the amount of food stored in the roots which causes fewer flowers during the following spring. Cut the foliage down to ground level after the first hard freeze in fall. Discard the plant debris to help control leaf blotch and other fungal diseases.
Japanese peonies are planted as accents along shrub borders, fences or walls. When planted close together, Japanese peonies are used to create a hedge. These hedge flowers are used to divide lawn areas, driveways and property lines.
Japanese peonies that produce white and blush flowers are Plainsman, Isani-Gidui and Moon of Nippon. Other types that have pink blooms are Westerner and Tokio. Types with red flowers are Mrs. Wilder Bancroft, Charm and Mikado.