Peonies produce large, showy flowers in every color except blue. Peony Gardenia is a white variety that has tall stems and works very well in flower arrangements. Ants can often be seen on peony buds; they are attracted to the flower’s nectar. They do no harm to the flowers and if you wish to use unopened buds in flower arrangements, simply cut them and brush off the ants.
There are two classes of peony: Paeonia lactiflora and Paeonia suffruticosa. Lactiflora is the herbaceous peony plant that dies back to the ground every fall, while suffruticosa is the tree peony and resembles a shrub.
Gardenia is a hybrid cultivar of Paeonia lactiflora. It is a double peony, with pale pink buds and white flowers that resemble gardenias with broad white petals. Some years its flowers are a blush color instead of white. A Peony Gardenia bush is about 36 inches tall and its foliage is green and remains green after the flowers have faded.
Peonies like to stay put. If you transplant them, expect to wait two to four years for them to begin flowering again. They will grow for generations in the same place, so take care to enrich their living space for years to come by amending the soil with plenty of organic material. They require deep humus with a rich, well-drained soil. Plant peonies in the fall so they can experience a bit of cold. Avoid planting them beside large trees or shrubs, which will block the light and stunt the flowers. Keep grass out of the peony bed; peonies are heavy feeders and will compete with other growth for food.
Care of Peonies
Once established, healthy peonies require very little care. Tall double peonies like the Gardenia require some kind of support system, otherwise the flowers will end up trailing in the dirt. Try placing a wire or string grid over the plot in the early spring when new growth just begins to emerge. These are also called peony rings. Attach the corners of the grid to stakes placed around the peony. As the plant grows, new shoots will grow through the grid and the leaves will hide it. Cut back all the stems in late fall.
Flowers bloom for about one week in late spring or early summer, but you can prolong the bloom period by planting early-, mid- and late-season bloomers, according to the University of Ohio Extension. Expect flowers in the second spring/summer. A common problem with peonies is that they fail to flower. They produce buds but the buds do not open, even with the proper care. According to gardeningknowhow.com, if peonies are grown in a warm climate–warmer than Zone 8–they are not getting the cold treatment they need every fall and winter. If the plants put on plenty of foliage and grew well in the early spring, it may be that the leaves on surrounding trees have grown in and are now blocking the sunlight. Sunlight is indispensable to peonies if they are to produce abundant–or any–flowers.