The peony

Main features of the peony

Peony is a plant that blooms once a year for a very short period. The flowers are delicate and a sudden shower is enough to ruin them. However at the height of their splendor they contribute to making the gardens particularly elegant and beautiful to look at. They are perennials and belong to the large Paeoniaceae family. In the wild they are present exclusively in the temperate belt of the northern hemisphere. They much prefer slightly alkaline soils as long as they are well drained and do not fear long periods of drought or intense frosts. During the winter months the aerial part dries up and must be cut to prevent it from absorbing energy at the roots. With the first warmth of spring the plant produces the new throws.

Growing tips

The peony grows well in areas exposed to full sun or half shade if they are planted in areas where the summers are particularly hot. Plants that do not receive sufficient light stop producing flowers and lose all their characteristic beauty. They do not need specific attention and it is possible to find lush specimens even in gardens that have been abandoned for decades. Fertilizing them in spring with manure means giving them a great supply of nutrients that will encourage flowering. The seedlings can be multiplied by dividing the tuberous roots in the fall. However, it must be taken into account that the new peonies will begin to bloom only two years after their planting.

The shape of the flowers

The shape of peonies flowers can be traced back to five main types that derive from the wild variety. The simple one is characterized by the presence of a minimum of two turns of petals that do not hide the stamens or the carpels. The semi-double inflorescence has a greater quantity of petals and the stamens still remain well in evidence.In the type of flower called Japanese or anemone the stamens are partially modified, assuming the shape of small petals. The basic structure is that of the simple inflorescence but they are decidedly more voluminous and compact than the wild variety. The bomb peony also called crown has an almost complete transformation of the stamens into petals and have a characteristic balloon shape. Finally, there are the double ones consisting solely of petals.

The peony: Tips for cultivation

The peony is a particularly strong plant and adapts very well to the climate present in continental Europe. The most suitable period for planting bare roots begins in mid-October and ends in the second half of February. It is advisable to plant the new plants in an area well exposed to the sun but in a place sheltered from intense air currents. Enrich the soil with organic fertilizer and increase its draining power by mixing river sand with the soil. With the first autumn colds, peonies immediately enter vegetative stasis and the part that remains out of the ground dries up completely. At that point it is necessary to cut the stems to five or at most six centimeters in height and wait for the spring throws.

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