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Peonies: planting and care. Instructions on how to grow from a seedling, 110 photos of beautiful flowers

Genus Peony of the Peony family. Occasionally in the literature there is a spelling of "peon", which is also correct. The genus got its name from the name of the healer of the Greek gods Peon. According to legend, the Peon treated the god of war Ares, wounded by Hercules, a treacherous and treacherous deity, a great lover of bloody battles. He treated, obviously, very successfully, which caused the burning envy of his mentor, the god of healing Asclepius.

The teacher plotted to poison the talented student, but the Peon accidentally found out about the plans of Asclepius and turned to the Greek gods with a plea for salvation. The gods took pity on the doctor, and turned him into a beautiful peony flower.

For many centuries, the plants of this group have been used only as medicinal. A special predilection for the flower was nourished by the ancient Romans, who firmly believed in the ability of the plant to heal from any ailment: no warrior went on a campaign without a peony root in his bosom.

Tincture of seeds soaked in wine was believed to be able to get rid of nightmares. Alcohol extract from the roots was used for diseases of the stomach, liver, kidneys. The British believed that a peony bush planted at the front door drives away evil spirits from the house.

A more practical application of this plant was found in Russia: from the Caucasian peony, paint for paper and fabrics was made here. Peony was also used in cooking: seeds were used as a seasoning for meat dishes, and boiled roots were eaten along with vegetables.

In China, peonies have been known and loved since time immemorial. By the middle of the XVI century. in the Middle Kingdom there were already more than 30 varieties listed in special catalogs. They were very expensive, and some were valued literally at their weight in gold. It was from China that the peonies began their triumphal march to other countries and continents.

Herbaceous peonies came to America only in 1850, and it took enterprising Americans only 13 years to officially recognize the undeniable advantages of peony flowers (1903 – the American Society of Peony Growers was created, which still exists).

In Russia in the XVII century. peonies were considered more as a medicinal plant, and were grown in pharmacy gardens.

Herbaceous perennial, rarely a shrub, growing wild exclusively in the Northern hemisphere: 45 species in Asia and Europe, 2 in western North America. In Russia, out of 15 species, 9 live in the Caucasus, the rest come from the Far East and Siberia.

The bush is multi-stemmed, the stems, depending on the variety, are simple or branched, with a height of 30 to 100 cm. The stem ends with a flower. In autumn, the aboveground part of the bush dies. Powerful rhizomes with renewal buds remain in the ground for the winter. The leaves of a complex structure, a variety of shapes in species of peonies. Large green or bluish tint. The location on the stem is another one.

The flowers are large and very large, up to 20 cm in diameter; in wild and non-double varieties, simple with fully developed stamens, and complex in semi-double and double flowers with partially or completely modified stamens.

The fruit of a peony with large black or red seeds is very spectacular, can be used as a natural floral material along with flowers.

Classification and varieties

Most of the currently cultivated varieties of peonies come from the species of milk—flowered peony (Paeonia lactiflora) — 70%, from crossing it with other species, mainly with medicinal peony - 30%, and directly from the form of medicinal peony (Paeonia officinalis) — less than 1% of officially registered varieties.

A wonderful Far Eastern species is the milky—flowered peony, which also grows in natural conditions in Transbaikalia, Mongolia, China, Japan, and Korea. The varieties obtained from it are characterized by high winter hardiness. The species is beautiful in itself: pure white simple flowers with a diameter of 8-10 cm, with golden stamens.

Varieties derived from medicinal peony, whose homeland is warm lands — France, Switzerland, Northern Italy, have less resistance to low temperatures.

The garden classification of peonies is based on the structure of the flower, but it is difficult to determine the peony variety from the photo. There is also a division of varieties into groups according to the height of the bush and the timing of flowering.

There are at least 10 thousand varieties of peonies in the world, although there are much fewer officially registered – about 4.5 thousand. Many varieties were created at the end or even in the middle of the 19th century, have still not lost their popularity and are as beautiful today as they were a century and a half ago!

It is possible with a high degree of confidence to name the most, perhaps, well–known and probably familiar to gardeners around the world, the peony variety is the famous Sarah Bernhardt. Bred in France in 1906 by Lemoine; the purpose is universal, excellent in cutting. The flower is very large, dense, pink in color, and although it does not have a pronounced aroma, it is difficult to pass by a flowering bush without stopping to admire its beauty – truly "Divine Sarah".

Another popular variety of peony with the equally "talking" name Scarlett O'Hara was created in the USA in 1956. The flower is simple, the petals are blood-red or flamingo-pink, with many contrasting yellow stamens. It is distinguished by indestructible health and a strong, tall bush. The peculiarity of the variety is that the flower is cut off while the buds have not yet opened.

The pearly white huge flowers of the Duchesse de Nemours peony (Mrs. Gwyn Lewis) are classics of the genre and a sales leader in the Netherlands. Bred in France in 1856 . To this day, it pleases flower growers all over the world with the strength and power of the bush, it is equally magnificent in the open ground and in cutting.

The tree—like or semi-shrubby peony (Paeonia suffruticosa), whose homeland is China, is a very special and unique representative of the genus. The plant has a hybrid origin. There are about 500 varieties in the world, most of them Chinese:

  • with double flowers – Chinese-European
  • with semi—double and non-double flowers - Japanese

They first came to Russia from the Baltic countries in 1858. There are varieties of tree peony of Russian selection: there are not as many of them as Asian and European, but unlike their heat-loving relatives, they are adapted to our difficult climatic conditions.

As a result of crossing peonies of yellow tree-like and herbaceous species, hybrids of the Itoh group (ITO-hybrids) with large yellow flowers appeared.

These flowers owe their appearance to the breeder Toichi Ito from Japan: he managed to cross two species, which was not previously considered possible. The leaves of the new hybrid are the same as those of the tree peony, and the stems are like those of the herbaceous peony – the aboveground part dies in autumn.

Planting and care: breaking traditions

Peonies cannot be called capricious plants, however, they place high demands on illumination and soil. If you want to grow a beautiful healthy bush that will delight with luxurious flowering for many years (and peonies are famous centenarians!), you will have to work hard.

The ideal soil option is a well–cultivated loam with a slightly alkaline reaction. Lime must be added to acidic soil. The secret of Dutch flower growers for planting and caring for peonies in the open ground: aquatic vegetation extracted when cleaning ponds is laid out in flower beds (duckweed with a high lime content is especially good fertilizer).

Planting pits should be deep and wide (50-70 cm), which is more important on heavy soils. On clay soil that does not allow moisture to pass through, the pits should be made even deeper so that drainage from broken bricks or gravel can be arranged.

Although peonies are very demanding of soil moisture, constant dampness and stagnation of water, they categorically cannot stand – their roots will simply rot. The pits are filled with a nutritious earth mixture (humus and peat with the addition of bone meal or superphosphate).

All excavation work should be carried out in advance, 2-4 weeks before the expected day of planting peonies, so that the soil has time to settle. A vital point when planting a delenka is the depth: strictly from 3 to 5 cm from ground level.

Lower or higher, and the peonies will not bloom, this will affect both the health of the plant and its lifespan. Some gardeners measure the required distance with a ruler – and it's worth it, I must say.

The best time for planting and transplanting peonies in the Middle Lane is the period from mid-August to mid-September. At this time, the plant is at rest, and it will tolerate stress more easily. Only in autumn: their own peonies, bought "from grandmothers" at the bazaar, or donated by neighbors.

But since the arrival of peonies from Holland, Poland, and China on the domestic market, the situation has changed radically: now everyone has to plant newly purchased peonies, contrary to laws, traditions and rules – in the spring. This is bad, but nevertheless quite acceptable.

The purchased root should be kept in the refrigerator until planting, so that kidney growth does not begin. It is important not to over-dry and not to pour the root, trying to maintain the most optimal humidity. Plant in the garden before it gets warm or hot.

Mulch the plantings. Do not forget to water and weed regularly: such a plant develops very slowly, and it is too weak in the first couple of years to resist weeds or drought on its own.

In short, a small peony planted in the spring will need care and attention. But in the end, a luxurious bush will grow from a tiny piece of root, and it will bloom – and this is the best reward for all the work!

A small bonus: peonies do not need to be covered for the winter, which distinguishes them from some other perennial flowers. Only young plants and all new plantings need minor shelter. In one place, a peony bush can grow perfectly and bloom for about 20 years.

Bouquets and compositions of peonies

Peony is one of the best flowers for cutting, if not the best at all. There are even special cutting varieties. On the plot they are planted separately, away from the front area of the garden. The standard stem length is 40 cm . This is a lot if you cut off all the flowering shoots from the bush.

In order to accumulate enough strength for flowering next year, the bush should have at least half of the shoots left – they cannot be cut off.

The high decorative nature of the flower allows you to make bouquets of peonies of monophonic, contrasting or shading each other colors.

If varieties with a large, double flower enjoy constant popularity and universal love in our country, then Japanese florists literally idolize simple, non-double peonies. They are considered the kings of the ancient art of ikebana. After all, the talent of a florist is to emphasize the individual beauty and uniqueness of each flower.

Photo of peonies