Peonies are favorite flowers for cut-flower bouquets. Most garden varieties were initially imported from China. They grow from early to late spring and come in a wide variety of colors. Some blooms are a single row of petals around the center while others are full. Using a chart helps you keep track of color, bloom date and blossom type.
Herbaceous and Tree Peonies
Single style bloom
The foliage of herbaceous peonies dies off during the winter, and reappears in the spring. Tree peonies’ leaves fall off, but the woody branches remain visible throughout the winter and early spring. Peonies also can be classified by the shape of the bloom. Some have just a single row of petals. Others have double rows of petals around the stem. Bomb-type peonies have shorter interior petals with a single or double row of guard petals. Full double peonies have blooms with all petals the same size, something like a carnation.
The Heartland Peony Society developed a method of classification which measures bloom date in number of days before or after the cultivar Red Charm. The earliest peony blooms a month earlier, and the last blooming peonies bloom nearly three weeks after. You could have a nearly two-month period of peony blossoms if you picked varieties throughout the bloom range.
Color and Charting
Peonies come in white, pink, red, lavender and yellow, coral and blush. Hollingsworth Nursery features nearly 600 different plants for purchase. When you have decided you want a number of peonies in your landscape, make a chart with blossom color and bloom date to help choose which specific plants you want. Use a spreadsheet format, listing the names of the specific plants down the first column and the bloom dates across the top. When you put a plant on the list, marking the bloom date column will let you see when you will have blooms and where you might have gaps. Using this method, you can plan to have nearly two months of continuous blooming.
After you have chosen and planted your peonies, make a landscape chart to indicate where you planted them. This way you will remember where they are after they have died back in the fall, so you don’t inadvertently damage their roots when you plant bulbs or other landscape plants.