Summer in Vermont is filled with many delights, but to me none are more visually rewarding than when the Peonies are in full bloom. Peonies are native to Asia, Europe and Western North America. There are somewhere between 25 - 40 species in the genus Paeonia.
Did you know that the Peony is named after Paeon, a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. When Asclepius became jealous of his student, he decided he was going to poison him. Zeus intervened and saved Paeon from the hands of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower. Did you also know that Peonies are the floral symbol of China. They date back in Chinese history to the time of Confucius (551-479 BC). Peonies can live to be well over one hundred years old. We know this for a fact! We have some that are that old in our own gardens. Enough history facts let’s talk about what they need to be happy.
Site selection is the most the important factor in successfully growing any peony.Pick a place to plant the peony in which it will not need to be disturbed for a number of years and receives at least 6 hours of light. They prefer good garden soil that is well drained and has good amounts of organic matter. They can be grown in clay soils, and do quite well, provided it drains well.
It is best to plant peonies in the fall. This is important, as peony plants grow almost all of their root system in late fall. Roots planted in spring depend on their reserves, since no new roots will likely be grown until fall. Avoid planting in the spring! Fall is also the time to divide your older plants. Make sure your division have at least 3 eyes for maximum success.
Plant peonies with the eyes no deeper than 2" below the soil surface. If planted too deeply the plant may not grow and flower. This is also true if it is too high. So take your time and measure the depth of the eyes.
Peonies love potassium. Greensand is the best natural supplement of this, as it will stay in the soil for 3-5 years.