Herbaceous and shrubby peonies
There are basically two large groups of peonies: herbaceous and shrubby. The main characteristic of the herbaceous varieties is that of having the aerial part that dies during the winter; the spring sprouts start directly from the root collar, a few centimeters underground.
The fleshy roots, which represent the storage tank of the reserve substances, allow the plant to overcome the cold season without damage; the peonies herbaceous every year they emit a herbaceous stem, which bears the leaves, and on its top, the floral buttons.
The head of this peony, like all perennial herbaceous plants, grows horizontally, remaining however over the years always of the same height.
The type of growth is different peonies shrubs, also called arboreal or woody, which produce real woody branches, on which spring leaves and flowers sprout. The shrub varieties therefore tend to grow in height and width like all bushes, reaching in some cases considerable dimensions of 2 meters in height and in diameter.
The cultivation of these flowers does not require particular skills, being rather rustic flowers that are well suited even to the most rigid temperatures.
The different growth habits condition the ornamental use in the gardens and the cultivation, in fact, the herbaceous (variety of Paeonia lactiflora, Paeonia officinalis and herbaceous hybrids) are more used to garnish flower beds or borders and in any case, due to of the longer stem, they are more valid as cut flowers.
On the other hand, the arboreae (a variety of Paeonia suffruticosa and hybrids of Paeonia lutea), of magnificent effect even without flowers thanks to the light foliage and the oriental look, are better as isolated plants, or to create hedges and background curtains.
Peonies are plants of great adaptability, not particularly difficult to cultivate, they also tolerate the most rigid winters well and live in almost all soils, with preference for those that are not too light and alkaline.
The diffusion of peonies in Italian gardens is still relatively limited and only a few years ago, thanks to the work of a small group of gardeners and nursery gardeners, they began to appreciate their great decorative effect both as isolated plants and as hedge plants or border.
The flowering, which takes place from mid-April to the end of June depending on the variety, represents one of the greatest satisfactions not only for the beginner but also for the experienced gardener.
Multiplication and reproduction
The cultivation of these flowers is quite simple. The multiplication of shrubby peonies can be done by splitting on Paeonia lactiflora (herbaceous) root from late August to late September, using lignified branches produced by the plant during the year. Another multiplication system is constituted by the division of the clumps, also in this case in September, using large plants that are divided into 3-4 parts and making sure that each part contains an adequate number of roots and stems.
Also the sowing is a valid system to reproduce the peony, both herbaceous and shrubby, but it must be borne in mind that the new plant will almost certainly have different characteristics from those of the plant from which the seeds were collected.
The reproduction of seed peony is a very long process, only seed germination takes 2 years, but it is the only one that can be used to create new varieties. Generally, it takes 7-8 years from the time of sowing to see a seedling seedling bloom.
In arboreal peonies, the hybrids of Paeonia lutea are of later vegetation than the Paeonia suffruticosa varieties.
In herbaceous peonies, hybrids are instead earlier than the current horticultural varieties of Paeonia lactiflora.
Generally it takes 2 or 3 years before the plants develop in a normal way, meanwhile they carry out an underground job and therefore they can give the impression of vegetating producing few flowers or not flowering at all.
Being among the most precocious flowers, peonies also stop vegetating early, for this reason they may have an autumnal appearance already from early September.
To ensure a long life of cut flowers, it is advisable to cut the branches when the buds begin to soften and allow the color of the flower to be seen. If they cut off branches with flowers that are already completely open, their duration will be more limited.
Cultivation of peonies: Peonies, an intense but very delicate flowering
If you have not yet cultivated the peonies in your garden, you will discover a plant that can give you great satisfaction: its flowering is impressive and explosive, of a rare beauty and able to give color and liveliness to your garden. However, the peony is a flower as beautiful as it is fragile and if, during flowering, some days of bad weather occur typical of spring, the show could be ruined in a few days.
So watch out, enjoy your peony bloom until it lasts!