“Bout to bloom and breathe out a rainbow: the peony!” Learn to grow this flower revered in haiku
This beautiful flowering plant is often referred to in the Japanese form of poetry, called haiku. In a few words and syllables, its beauty is captured in poems such as that in the title of Buson or that of the Edo period (1603-1868) poet Basho.
Discover more odes to the peony here and read on to learn how to grow and cultivate your own beautiful buds so you too can get poetic as the season progresses.
The peony plant is either the herbaceous variety or a hybrid of the herbaceous peony which is “Itoh“Hybrid.
That herbaceous peony Variety is the one you are probably most familiar with. These grow well here and are hardy in zones three and four. These peonies are a type of perennial plant that dies back in the fall and regrows in the spring.
Some of these herbaceous peonies are species varieties, which are the varieties that bloom very early and only have single flowers.
But most people Yes, really enjoying planting and growing in their lawns and landscapes are the “doubles”. These are the ones that are just gaudy and dripping with petals!
A gardener once crossed the tree peony, which looks like small shrubs, with the herbaceous peony to create the Itoh hybrids.
They grow like a herbaceous peony but have the colors of a tree peony. Another nice thing about the Itoh hybrids is that the buds last longer than a regular herbaceous peony and the plant and foliage are a bit more compact.
Whatever variety you plant, make sure it is in full sun and well-drained soil. And think of peonies as something that will last for decades. Put it in a place where it will be in full sun for a long time. If you ever want to move your peonies, move them in the fall.
However, this is the time of year to plant peonies! Start with peonies grown in nurseries or garden centers. Make a large hole, fill it up with native soil, and then keep adding water.
Set the peony plant in so that it sits about an inch or two below the soil surface. If it’s too deep, it won’t bloom very well. Add some mulch, keep it well watered and it will grow nicely.
Q: Vinca Minor was a huge disappointment and very invasive. Is there a ground cover that is good for heavily shaded areas that aren’t trying to take over the garden? – Cynthia in Wallingford
A: This depends on what type of shade you have. If you have deep shade – the kind that a spruce or a hemlock or a pine would provide – there isn’t much that would grow well there as ground cover.
However, if you have shade from a deciduous tree like a large maple or oak tree with light pouring in, then you have plenty of options!
Think of native plants you see in the forest. For example the Bunchberrya low growing plant with small red berries, grows well.
Experiment with some of these wild plants and see how they fare in this landscape.
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