Bright, bold colour stands out in any garden.
Depending on the variety they will bloom in late spring to late summer.
I offer perennial peonies. They will die back to the ground in late fall, emerging with fresh growth in the spring.
They will get loaded with flowers that can brighten up the landscape. Some varieties can even live for up to 100 years!
They can be grown in large containers but do much better in the ground. They can be a little temperamental if you transplant or divided them anytime other then when they are dormant in the fall.
There are 3 types of peonies according to their growing habit:
There are 6 different peony varieties according to their flowers:
Herbaceous peony are fast growing plant. They love full sun of at least 6 hours, the more sun the better, and they will attract a lot of pollinators to your garden. They also thrive in well draining soil.
After the flowers die off the glossy green leaves will turn a purplish to gold colour in the fall.
Ants on peonies are a good thing. They eat the nectar that develops on the flowers which won't hurt the plant. They also getting rid of any bad insects that might be trying to take over your peony flowers.
They are good for zone 3-8 USDA they are also deer and rabbit tolerant and pretty much pest and disease free.
When planting herbaceous peonies you will want to choice a place where it will get good air circulation. They are prone to get gray mold, called botrytis and will need the air circulating through the plant.
Plant them away from other trees and shrubs as they don't like to compete for water and nutrients.
When planting more then one herbaceous peony together, make sure you leave about 3-4 feet between each plant. This will give them enough room to grow and they will still have enough air circulation.
Sheltering them from strong winds is best so the plant won't be torn apart from the wind.
The best time to Plant the roots is in fall, about 6 weeks before the ground freezes. This gives them time to get established. Plant the roots about 2-3 inches below the soil but not any deeper. The roots need to freeze during winter to be able to come up fresh in the spring.
If buying a potted plant that is already growing, you can plant it any time.
When applying fertilizer, you will want something with low nitrogen. The numbers should be about 5-10-10.
Dividing herbaceous peonies is easy and should only be done in fall after the plant is dormant.
If you want to see how it's done watch this short video on dividing peonies from Better Homes and Garden. It's only 1 and a half minutes long but it shows you exactly how to do it.
If your herbaceous peony isn’t flowering, there could be a lot of reasons for this
There are also diseases that will prevent your peony from flowering or kill your plant.
Here are some to watch for:
Botrytis Blight – (also called gray mould) Botrytis blight synonym are
If you spot this you need to remove any infected part of the herbaceous peony. That includes deadheading flowers and cleaning up any debris that is lying around.
Blotch – on herbaceous peonies it appears as
This happens in spring right before it starts to bloom and spreads to the entire plant.
It won’t kill the plant unless it happens every year. The plant will look unattractive for the rest of the growing season.
Powdery mildew on plants – this is easy to spot as it's whitish coloured fuzz on the leaves and stems of the plant. It won’t hurt the growth of the plant but it doesn’t look very nice.
Cutting back your infected plant parts and throwing them in the trash will help control it.
Viral diseases – These viruses are deadly to the herbaceous peony as there is no cure. The only thing you can do is dispose of the plant directly into the garbage.
The viruses include:
It might be best to get someone who knows about these viruses to take a look at your plant before you depose of them. You will want to make sure it’s a virus your plant has and not something else that is curable.
Wilt and root rot – Herbaceous Peonies don’t like their roots to stay in water. If they stay wet to long the roots will rot which will cause the leaves to wilt and the plant will at some point die.
Foliar nematode – This disease will affect any part of the plant that is above the ground. The symptoms are:
Keeping the leaves dry will help with containing foliar nematode.
Bud blast – if your peony gets stress it can cause bud blast. That is when you see the buds but they don’t open. If you can figure out what is causing them stress and fix the problem they should bloom next year.
Ants – ants on herbaceous peonies won’t harm them and won't stop them from blooming. They are only eating the nectar that the plant produces.
Scale Insects – You can see them on the plant if you look close. Symptoms that your plant might have scale insects are:
Thrips – Very tiny insects that are hard to see. It’s best to spot them on light coloured flowers.
Symptoms of thrips:
Mixing a couple drops of Dawn dish soap with water in a spray bottle will end scale insects and thrips on herbaceous peonies. You may need to apply it every 3 days for a couple weeks to make sure you kill the adults and larva.
Herbaceous peony shrubs are perfect for lining your driveway or your front walkway. They can also make a great low hedge around your deck or patio area.