Cultivation peonies

Cultivation peonies

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Cultivation peonies

Always considered the queen of flowers, especially in the oriental world, the peony is characterized by deciduous leaves, countless flowering stamens and corollas with the most varied chromatic shades that enclose large black seeds similar to fruits. There are two large families: herbaceous peonies and arboreal or shrubby peonies. The herbaceous peonies have tuberous roots and generally reach the height of one meter, while the arboreal peonies form tangles of shrubs that grow up to two meters high.
A lover of the mild climate, the peony is naturally widespread in a large part of the northern hemisphere and in particular in the temperate areas of Europe, North Africa, western America and some Asian regions. In Italy it is present in the variety paeonia mascula on the whole national territory with the exception of the Adriatic side and of the islands, it grows spontaneously in areas of undergrowth at the half-light of beeches or oaks, where it revives the vegetation with the crimson colors characteristic of this variety.

History in Chinese culture

In ancient Chinese culture, possessing such plants was the prerogative of only imperial families, in virtue of the exceptional properties attributed to it which made it a symbol of prosperity and happiness. One of the innumerable legends related to the peony tells of the empress of Cathay who, wanting to impose his supremacy on all the flora, ordered all the flowers of his gardens to bloom in unison. However the peony refused and was therefore relegated to the snowy peaks of the mountains where, despite the frost, it blossomed laughing and radiant and the empress could do nothing but bow to the majesty of the queen of flowers. It is precisely the adaptability of these plants together with their aesthetic pleasantness that has made it possible to experiment crossbreeding of various species, whose hybrids of extraordinary beauty stimulate the interest of many collectors. Especially in China, the motherland of peony, the hybridization between species belonging to the arboreal group with herbaceous specimens has given rise to intersectional varieties with a unique flowering.

Herbaceous peonies

Herbaceous peonies grow horizontally along the ground, rising less than a meter in a vertical direction. The tuberous roots are completely incorporated in the subsoil, leaving the aerial part of the plant in evidence, with its deciduous jagged leaves that go to compose circular bushes on which the colorful corollas appear during the flowering season. From the slender stems that branch off from the bushes single or double flowers of the most varied and iridescent shades bloom from red to pink, from yellow to white. In winter the imposing radical structure allows the plant to survive the harsh climate, acting as a reservoir for the reserve substances no longer available in the external environment. It is necessary in this season to cut the upper stems, to preserve the basic structure of the plant and prepare it for flowering in the spring season.

Tree or shrub peonies

Unlike the herbaceous peonies, which adorn the flowerbeds exclusively in the warm seasons, the arboreal peonies lend themselves to embellish the gardens even in the autumn and winter months. Their gnarled trunks form intricate tangles of exotic style, excellent for creating hedges or as single plants to give a sophisticated look to a corner or a porch. The shrubs reach impressive dimensions and in spring they are enriched with dark green foliage and large flowers, also in this case rich in chromatic nuances, of which the varieties in the range of yellow and white are much sought after. Also the tree species, like the herbaceous ones during the cold months, need pruning, however there are no particular rules except that of eliminating the highest and most vigorous branches so that the plant does not grow too longitudinally.


As far as cultivation is concerned, although it is an easily adaptable plant, it nevertheless requires meticulous care so that it can express itself to its full potential. In general, the plant takes place in autumn, so that the plant can adapt to the soil and environmental conditions, to ensure spring flowering, which generally occurs between May and June and then dried in the first days of September.
For both arboreal and herbaceous varieties, sunny exposure in temperate environments is preferable while, in the case of very hot environments, areas in dim light and poorly ventilated are preferred. In any case it is necessary to maintain a certain detachment from the roots of other plants, since the peony is characterized by a rather broad root development. To avoid excessive soil moisture, stagnant water is an enemy of peonies and often causes disease. It is good, therefore, to make sure that the soil is well drained, limiting watering too frequently and ensuring the effective drying between one watering and another.


Also the fertilizations must be wisely regulated to avoid alterations of the ph of the ground that must be near a neutral or slightly acid value. In this sense a mulch with fertilizer for slow release flowering plants or with bovine manure with a not too high degree of humidity applied near the flowering period represents the most effective solution to ensure the right nutrition of the plant.
So although the peony is a plant of few claims to fully enjoy its aesthetic value it is necessary to have small precautions: to ensure a low humidity rate, to protect it from excessive exposure to the sun and to bad weather, to guarantee irrigation in periods of drought and a good fertilization, non-invasive, during the very first flowering.


The seed reproduction of peonies takes quite a long time; for the complete development of a plant it is necessary to wait at least two or three years. In fact, the plant needs a long period of adjustment, during which it carries out adaptation work in the subsoil producing a sparse or almost no flowering. Although sowing is the only effective solution for the development of new specimens, the length of the germination process makes it possible to prefer faster multiplication methods such as cutting or vegetative propagation. Both practiced during the first fall season to prepare the new seedling for spring rebirth.


  1. Malanris

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  2. Taur


  3. Mogul

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