Peonies

June 25, 2014

The Peony is a flowering plant native to Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America with about 25 different species. Most peonies are herbaceous perennial plants but some resemble trees. These perennials may live longer than you do as some have been known to thrive for over 100 years. The plants require little maintenance as long as they are planted properly and establish themselves. They do not respond well to transplanting.

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Peonies can be classified by flower type and plant growth habit. The flower types become more complex in its petal arrangement and include: Single, Japanese, Anemone, Semi-Double, Double, Bomb-Double. By plant growth, types are Herbaceous (nonwoody), Tree (shrub), and Itoh (or “Intersectional”), which is intermediate between herbaceous and tree forms.

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Herbaceous peonies differ from woody-stemmed peonies in that they die back to ground level every winter. They provide invaluable colour to borders in late spring or early summer. They have large often double flowers in whites, pinks and reds adding glamour and beauty to any garden.

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A peony shrub is deciduous shrub called a tree peony. They grow slowly but live for years and will lose their leaves in the fall. They grow between 3 to 5 feet tall. Peony shrubs will bloom colorful flowers in green, yellow, maroon and purple. During winter the peony shrubs grown in colder climates will need protection from winter in order to bloom flowers in spring.

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Intersectional Peonies, also known as Itoh Hybrids, are a hybrid produced by crossing a tree peony (peony shrub) with an herbaceous (non-woody) peony. They produce tree peony flowers with leaves on plants that behave like the herbaceous peony in that they die on winter and emerge on spring. They grow approximately 2.5 feet tall and are disease resistant and less susceptible to powdery mildew than their herbaceous parent.

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