Growing peonies has been a very rewarding experience for me. Peonies have long since been my favorite flower and that is a difficult choice for a florist. (Picking a favorite that is.) Vermont is a great place to grow peonies. They like the cool springs and they seem to do as well in either hard winters or mild winters. I planted my peonies 20 years ago when I moved to Vermont from Connecticut and they are still going strong! They pretty much grow by themselves and require little care although a few helpful hints may help the novice. Along with beautiful blossoms and a heavenly fragrance, the foliage is a deep green with a very nice sculptured shape. The foliage will stay nice looking in the flower bed all summer.
Helpful Hints for Growing Peonies
- Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil
- Plant peonies in the fall about 6 weeks before the ground freezes and they will do much better than those planted in the spring.
- Peonies are usually sold as bare root tuber with buds or eyes as they are called. Plant the roots with the eyes 1.5″ below the soil with the eyes facing up.
- Prepare a large hole with organic matter and a neutral PH. Remember the peony lives to be quite old so preparing the soil now will pay great dividends later.
- Plant several varieties about 3 feet apart for a staggered bloom time and continual growth
- They may take a couple of years to establish themselves but you will be rewarded with gorgeous wonderfully fragrant blooms which will last as cut flowers for more than a week.
- The blossoms can be quite heavy and may need some support especially when it rains and those heavy heads are bowing down.
Cutting the Small side buds
Had I but four square feet of ground at my disposal, I would plant a peony in the corner and proceed to worship. –Alice Harding, The Book of the Peony
As you can see I have some of the large heavy double blossom peonies. Because I use them for cut flowers, I cut back the small side blossoms when the first appear as buds. Below is a short video showing you how to do this.
My peonies have been naturalized into the garden in front of my house. Consequently I don’t get to enjoy them as much because that garden borders the road. Walkers and passing cars enjoy them though. I never hesitate to cut them and bring them in to enjoy their fragrance and wonderful layers of petals that open slowly appearing as delicate paper!
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