Period peonies

The herbaceous peony and the flowering period

Peonies are divided into two large groups: herbaceous peonies and shrubs or trees. Herbaceous peonies, widespread in the West, are no more than 120 cm tall. They have an aerial part that dies in winter, but the tuberous roots, acting as a reservoir of reserve substances, allow the plant to face the cold season without difficulty. After a spring recovery, characterized by a splendid flowering from the end of April to June, the herbaceous peonies go to rest. In Europe, peonies are all herbaceous in nature and those known before 1800 descend from Peonia Officinalis, the most widespread species known since ancient times for its medicinal properties. Another species is the Lactiflora Peony, native to Siberia and known for its white and large flowers, from this many “Chinese” and “varieties descend.

The shrub peony and the flowering period

This type of peony in nature exists only in the East. Native to Tibet and Western China, it reaches 2 meters in height and produces real branches on which flowers and leaves grow in spring. It develops both vertically and horizontally as all the bushes and its flowers are small and simple. Four species are known: P. suffruticosa, P. delavayii, P. lutea and P. potanini. In China this type of peony has been highly esteemed since past times, so much so that in the 17th century it obtained the protection of an emperor who started the work of hybridization to obtain ever more beautiful varieties. Chinese peonies are characterized by very large and double flowers, with stamens transformed into petals. The Japanese varieties, also called anemones, on the other hand, have lighter, simple or semi-double flowers,

The cultivation of peonies

The cultivation of peonies is not difficult, both in pots and with bare roots, but it is always good to follow some precautions for a good result. The best time to plant peonies is autumn, from September until the last days of November, so that the plant has time to develop its root system before the arrival of spring. Shrub peonies like sunny places, but in warmer regions they prefer half-shade in the morning to maintain green foliage for longer. Herbaceous peonies, on the other hand, love the sun much more and, if too shaded, they may not bloom at all. The ideal soil for peonies must be rich in humus, medium-textured, deep and permeable, to avoid water stagnation. It is good to use organic fertilizers and if the soil is too wet, place a layer of expanded clay and gravel on the bottom of the hole or pot for drainage. The cultivation of these plants in pots is not optimal, especially the herbaceous ones, due to their very voluminous roots, which tend to cover any space. For this reason the herbaceous plants stop blooming after a few years and it is preferable to flare them after a certain period.

Peonies period: Peonies in the garden

In Italian gardens the peony is not yet very widespread, even if in the last period many nurserymen propose it more and more often for its scenic effect, its elegance and the beauty of its flowers so large, fragrant and intense colors. The different characteristics of herbaceous peonies compared to shrubs affect their location in gardens. Many nurserymen propose to use the herb to decorate borders or flower beds; shrubs instead as isolated plants, to create hedges or to form the foreground in front of trees, having beautiful foliage and a height that reaches 2 meters. Susanna Tavallini, a well-known nurseryman, proposes to enhance their beauty to combine them with small boxwood or lavender hedges or plants with silver leaves. However, it is always good, suggests the nurseryman, match certain combinations based on the color of the flowers: light pink peonies with lilac or blue flowers, cherry pink or crimson ones with white, blue or salmon pink flowers. Very long-lived and in need of little care, peonies with their opulent and radiant flowering, which explodes in a very short period, attract more and more fans of the sector and not.

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