It's that time of year when the Peonies are in bloom and the garden smells wonderful from their fragrance. Peonies should be in every garden because their foliage, fragrance and beautiful blooms add so much to the garden. Peonies have been the subject for tapestry, wall paintings and poetry. They were named after the Greek physician Paeon, who used the plant for medical purposes. They are a herbaceous shrubby plant with thick roots and large compound glossy green leaves. They bloom in the spring and die down to the ground for winter. If you have tree peonies, they have branches and bark like trees and should not be cut down for the winter.
Peonies are easy to care for and need full sun. They prefer well drained moisture retentive soil rich with humus. The best time to plant Peonies is in the autumn. Plant with the "eyes" about 1 1/2 inches deep (facing up) in the soil and avoid damaging the eyes. Water well and add mulch for winter protection. Peonies can be propagated by seed or division. Peonies can be left undisturbed indefinitely or you can divide every 6 to 10 years. There are lots of different varieties of Peonies available for your garden. Extend the bloom time with a selection of early, mid-season and late blooming varieties. If you see ants on the flower buds of your Peonies, do not try to kill the ants with sprays. The ants will not harm your plants or flowers.