Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Peonies are the quintessential cut flower for late spring. Whether you choose singles or doubles, these blossoms are among the most romantic of flowers.
If you expect to use a lot of peony stems, chances are it makes sense to grow your own. For the most part, peonies are long lived and relatively easy to grow. Just be sure to select ones that are recommended for your climate. Though it’s true that in general they prefer a more temperate climate, there are exceptions.
Once they’re established, these plants can resent transplanting. So, choose a good sunny spot in your garden where they can be left alone.
Peonies are basically treated like a hardy bulb. For all the specifics on growing them, I refer you to a delightful book from Firefly. “Peonies” by Pamela McGeorge has exquisite photos by Russell McGeorge.
This comprehensive title features everything you need to know in order to grow the plants successfully. There are chapters on all the different kinds from tree peonies and herbaceous ones to the newer hybrids. These chapters contain details on the particular needs of each kind.
Floral designers will appreciate the fact that this book devotes a whole chapter to using peonies as cut flowers. This has details on how to cut your own stems. In addition, there is also information on how drying them for everlastings. The author explains how to choose the best stems for cut flowers whether you buy or grow your own. She also includes a list of peony varieties that are especially good for cut flowers. The cutting varieties are listed by bloom time.
This title also has chapters on the history and background of the peony. A chapter on propagation shows how to get new plants by dividing the roots you already have. Another chapter deals with specifics on treating insects, diseases, and other things that can go wrong. If your plant is slow to bloom, check out the list of possible causes so you can remedy the situation.
The appendix contains lists of different peony varieties by bloom time and type. There is a separate list for tree peonies as well as one for fragrant varieties. Interestingly enough, there are listings as well for growing in zone nine, which is too hot for most varieties. In addition, the author includes lists of different organizations and sources of peonies.