Just thinking about peonies makes me swoon. I’m a sucker for any fresh flowers but these huge frilly blooms are my favorite. Mine usually make their big appearance at the end of May or beginning of June but with this year’s cold spring they’ve just finally arrived.
Telling Stories with Flowers
They were the first plants I put in when we bought our house, with its then non-existent landscaping. I’ve since packed five peony plants into my small city backyard but those first two were heirloom variety plants that have been in my family for five generations. You don’t usually think of plants as family heirlooms but it’s such a fun and beautiful way to keep the spirit of a family going.
Since peonies played a starring role at my wedding, my third peony was a wedding gift that blooms every year around our anniversary. As nice as china and colanders are, plants can be a gift for a special occasion that really can keep giving.
As with most perennials, the best way to grow peonies is by dividing and transferring them from an existing plant from a friend or family member, like my heirloom varieties. Not only is this free (!) but it’s the fastest way to get large lush plants with lots of flowers.
You want to transfer them in early fall so that the root systems can establish before spring. Use your hands to separate out a section of an existing plant and then use a straight spade to carefully make a clean cut through the plant base. Dig deep to get all of the roots out and transfer as soon as possible to the new location. Examine your new plant to locate the “eyes” of the peony (see here). They will be 1-2 inch pinkish sections at the bottom of the stalks just above the root base or 1-2 inch pinkish cones sprouting from the root base. When you place the plant in the ground, leave about 1 inch of the eyes showing above ground. Cover the rest firmly with soil. Water well.
Do you love or hate peonies? Do you have a special plant story? Please share!