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All About Peonies: Flower Meaning, Types of Peonies, and How to Grow Them

peony-flowers

 

Peonies season is upon us! Learn more about this beautiful bloom that rivals the classic roses.

Fast Facts About Peonies

Peonies were named in honor of the Greek deity of healing, Paean or Paeon. In Greek mythology, he was saved by Zeus, the king of the gods, from Asclepius, the god of medicine and his teacher grew jealous of him, by turning him into a blooming peony flower.

  • Botanical Name: Tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa), Chinese peony (Paeonia lactiflora)
  • Also known as: The King of Flowers in China and the Queen of Herbs in ancient Greece.
  • Family: Paeoniaceae
  • Genus: Paeonia
  • Origin: Asia, Europe, and Western North America
  • Recognized species and varieties: Estimated over 3,000 cultivated varieties of peonies exist.
  • Blooming Season: Mostly late spring to early summer
  • Colors: Peony flowers can come in a rainbow of vibrant hues, including white, pink, rose and red for the garden peonies and coral, deep purple, mahogany, and bright yellow for the tree peonies and hybrid Itoh peonies.

Peonies Flower Meaning

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The gorgeous peony represents many beautiful things, including romance, good luck, compassion, prosperity, and a blissful marriage. Perhaps this is why peony floral arrangements are a common gift given to couples who are celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary.

Interestingly, red peonies are also said to represent shyness or bashfulness.

Peonies in China

Peony is also the state flower of Indiana. It was also the national flower of China before 1929 when it was replaced by the plum blossoms. Peonies are native to China and like orchid plants, they were also highly regarded and kept as prized possessions.

As a matter of fact, there’s a place in the vast Asia country known as the City of Peonies, Luoyang, where the National Peony Garden is located. Roughly 46.667 hectares, it’s a paradise for peony lovers, boasting of almost every kind of peony you can think of, including its collection of 800,000 tree peonies and seven breeds of wild peonies.

Kinds of Peony According to Flower Form

There are a couple of ways to classify peonies: their distinct growing habits and their flower form. We’ll talk about both of them in this article.

Peonies are often categorized as

  • Single – Only one or double row of petals and can be mistaken for a bigger type of wild rose. Examples of single peonies are ‘Roselette’, ‘Krinkled White,’ and ‘Scarlet Heaven.
  • Japanese – Single or double row of petals but with stamens that look like narrow petals. Some have yellow yolk-like centers. Examples of Japanese peonies are ‘Garden Lace’, ‘Mahogany’, and ‘Walter Mains’
  • Anemone - Single or double row of petals but with stamens transformed into broad petals or petaloids. Examples of anemone peonies are ‘Bouquet Perfect’, ‘Belleville, ’and ‘Gay Paree.’
  • Semi-double – Many rows of petals with some stamens and anthers as extra petals. Examples of semi-double peonies are ‘Buckeye Belle’, ‘Coral Sunset’, and ‘Garden Treasure’.
  • Full double
  • Bombs – Beautiful and dense balls of petals. Popular bomb-type peonies are ‘Angel Cheeks’, ‘Big Ben’, ‘Bridal Shower’, ‘Monsieur Jules Elie’, and ‘Red Charm’

Because of their large flower heads, peonies make excellent cut flowers. Orchid Republic offers customizable floral subscription packages and same day flower delivery in Los Angeles and Orange County.

The Different Types of Peonies

When it comes to growing behavior, the Paeonia genus can be divided into three groups.

  • Herbaceous Peonies
    Otherwise known as the garden peonies, these are the most popular and common type of peonies. They bloom in late spring to early summer for 7 to 10 days.

    Herbaceous peonies are probably the most fragrant of all types of peonies. They grow anywhere from 2 to 3 feet tall with flowers that mostly come in different shades of pink, red, or white. Examples of this section include Shirley Temple, Coral Charm, and Lady Alexandra Duff.
  • Tree Peonies Tree
    Tree peonies are woody perennial shrubs, which bloom in springtime. They may grow at a sluggish pace but can go as tall as 7 feet high. They are famous for their amazingly large blooms that come in white, pink, and pale yellow. Examples of tree peonies are 'Hana Kisoi' ('Floral Rivalry'), 'Impumon', and 'Sakura Jishidi'. 
  • Itoh Peonies
    Itoh peonies are intersectional peony hybrids that were created by crossing a tree peony and a herbaceous peony.

    A better version of the natural peony, Itoh peonies can bloom with 50 or more big flowers on strong short stems that no longer needs stalking. They can bloom for as long as three to four weeks and produce fine-looking flowers in vibrant yellow and gold tints, which is rarely seen in other types of peonies.  Popular Itoh peonies include Garden Treasure and Bartzella.

How to Grow Peonies

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It’s an absolute dream to have your own flower garden filled with colorful peonies. Luckily, peonies aren’t that fussy to grow and take care of.

Check out these simple peony gardening tips:

  • Plant your peonies in the fall season, so they’re strong enough when the first hard frost comes.
  • Put your peonies in a well-draining, humus-rich, and moist soil enriched with compost.
  • Peonies love full sun, although they can also survive in partial shade. This gives more flowers and healthier leaves and prevents problems with mildew.
  • Peonies need regular deep watering sessions, especially during intensely hot summer months.

Pack a good amount of patience, too, because peonies may take up to two years before they produce a single bloom.

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