Peonies

Peonies

Caleb van der Meer5/19/22

Peonies

Their absolutely beautiful early summer display of stunning flowers enchant everyone who sees them. After the blooms are finished these bushy plants display their beautiful glossy leaves all summer and into fall. Peonies will tolerate our winters beautifully and can be quite happy being completely neglected. 

Let's take a look at these amazing flowers that I absolutely adore


Peonies come in 3 types: the herbaceous, the tree, and the Ihto. In Manitoba we only grow the Ihto and herbaceous varieties which die off in the fall and gather all their nutrients and energy into their roots in order to come back in the spring.


Peonies like to be in bright sunny areas where they don't have to compete for a lot of nutrients. However these plants will survive in part-shaded areas providing they get a reasonable amount of sunlight. Take time to plant your peonies in the most advantageous spot because peonies do not like to be moved once they have been established. Not to say it is impossible however they do get rather grumpy being broken up, especially if they have not been properly established.


Peonies thrive off of neglect so do not worry too much about fussing over your peonies as too much fussing, too much fertiliser, and too much disturbance of their roots will cause them to wither away. Instead add a bit of bone meal to the soil when they're planted and ignore them for a few years unless they need to be staked; their massive blooms often are too big for their stems and while they are blooming they often need a peony cage (in a pinch a tomato cage will suffice for a younger peony) 


Once established peonies are well known for their longevity, sometimes even lasting up to a 100 years! Peonies coming a wide variety of colors and bloom styles there are 

  • single blooms
  • Japanese 
  • anenome 
  • semi double 
  • bomb 
  • and double blooms. 

The blooms listed get progressively fuller of petals with the single blooms having a single layer of large petals and the double blooms being completely full of petals. 


When you buy your peonies in the store don't worry if it doesn't have an enormous root system. The most important part of their roots are the tubers which are where they gather all their energy for the winter. Many peonies are about to bloom these days in greenhouses so don't be upset if you don't get any blooms this year but just you wait until next summer.


Peonies bloom late spring to early summer. The blooms make excellent cut flowers. Bring them into the house when they are still tight buds in order to experience the full beauty. However if you do cut the buds for vases make sure that you tap off all the ants that have been climbing all over the peonies! Before peonies bloom they produce a sweet nectar over their buds and as they bloom the ants will be clamoring around to get the nectar. Please do not do anything to deter the ants from eating the nectar of the peonies as ants also will help the peonies by eating other pests they find on their way to eat the nectar. Once the flowers stop blooming the ants will be on their merry way. 


Peonies are an incredible plant. Long lives, easy to take care of, and absolutely stunning. The highlight of my spring gardening so far has been to see the tiny little first leaves of my peonies!