Grassy peonies are spectacular beautiful flowering perennials that can decorate any personal plot. Experienced gardeners claim that there is no particular difficulty in growing these plants, so even a beginner gardener will be able to cope with them. What conditions are necessary for peonies for full development and growth? What nuances should be considered when growing them? Let's try to figure it out.
The main difference between grassy peonies and tree peonies is that before the onset of cold weather, their aboveground part dies. In the spring, when nature begins to wake up, the root system of the plant quickly forms a new large bush.
To grassy peonies include an extensive group of flowering perennials with powerful thickened roots, which with age are able to reach almost a meter long. Another characteristic feature of these plants are very beautiful and unusually large flowers. It is noteworthy that, as the peonies age, their flowers grow in size, reaching 20 or more centimeters. In addition, the number of flowers also increases with age - for example, up to 100 can be counted on one mature bush.
An extensive gamut of aromas is characteristic of peony flowers. It is believed that the most fragrant are peonies with pink flowers. Depending on the plant variety, the aroma of its flowers can be fruity, citrus, vanilla, amber, musky.
With proper care, the bush of a grassy peony is able to reach a height of 50-100 centimeters. Thanks to the dense and spreading shoots covered with large leaves, the bushes look proportional, symmetrical and quite voluminous. The impressive decorativeness of these plants has become one of the main reasons why grassy peonies are widely used in landscape design.
Peonies do not lose their attractiveness even after flowering. Their lush foliage retains its decorativeness until late autumn, often acquiring a reddish-purple or bronze-brown hue.
Being perennials, grassy peonies enter the flowering phase in the second, or, more often, in the third year. During the flowering period, plants form numerous and, as a rule, single flowers, the color and shape of which depend on varietal and hybrid characteristics.
The vast majority of known hybrids and varieties were obtained by breeders from two initial species - milk flowering and medicinal peonies. Both species are cultivated as ornamental plants used in the design of gardens and urban landscaping. Only from milky-flowered peony to date, several hundred unique varieties have been obtained, including varieties with double flowers.
In crop production, a classification of these herbaceous ornamental perennials is provided in accordance with the type of their flowers. So, taking into account this criterion, it is customary to distinguish peonies with flowers of the following types:
These beautiful-flowering perennials are classified by the height of the aerial part. Based on this characteristic, peonies are distinguished:
- undersized (up to 50 centimeters);
- mid-height (50-90 centimeters);
- tall (over 90 centimeters).
It is customary to distinguish between varieties of peonies and the timing of flowering. So, in accordance with this characteristic, early flowering, medium and late flowering varieties are distinguished.
According to historical sources, mankind was engaged in the selection and creation of new varieties of peonies in ancient times. For example, in China by the VI century, about 30 varieties of these perennials were known. To date, the breeder has managed to get about 5 thousand different varieties of grassy peonies. Below we consider the best and most popular of them.
- “Coral Sunset” is a varietal peony, notable for its spectacular appearance. The plant forms an upright strong and compact bush, the height of which can reach 100-110 centimeters. In this case, the diameter of the crown can vary from 80 to 90 centimeters. Leaves are emerald green, dense and large. During the flowering period, it forms many single terry or semi-double flowers of a pinkish-peach color with a dark yellow core.
- "Sorbet" is a variety that has gained wide popularity among gardeners. Its distinctive features are a strong and strong bush up to 90 centimeters high, lush foliage, large and very fragrant terry flowers of pink and cream color. The variety is considered one of the most unpretentious in cultivation, resistant to cold and disease.
- "Shirley Temple" is an early flowering variety that forms large (up to 20 centimeters in diameter) white flowers of a snow-white color with a slight pinkish blush during flowering. The plant has strong and well-developed shoots that do not need garter.
- “Yellow Crown” is a very attractive variety, which is popular among gardeners for its abundant and lush flowering. The plant forms a beautiful compact bush with carved pale green foliage, effectively contrasting with yellow-lemon terry flowers. Diameter of flowers averages 15 centimeters.
- Primavera is a cold-resistant variety, appreciated by gardeners for its impressive decorative effect. Forms a neat symmetrical bush up to 90 centimeters high. During the flowering period, it forms anemone-shaped flowers of the original color. The outer petals are snow-white, the central ones are lemon yellow.
- "Sarah Bernhardt" is a fairly old and well-known variety, widely used in landscape design. The plant is notable for its abundant and generous flowering, during which it forms many dense and voluminous flowers of white-pink color with a pleasant aroma.
- “Dinner plate” is a terry variety of medium late flowering periods. It forms a strong and neat bush with strong and well-developed stems. Flowers - fragrant, spherical, saturated pink color.
- “Coral Charm” is a tall peony variety that forms a bush up to 100-110 centimeters high. The flowers are large (18-20 centimeters in diameter), semi-double, bright coral color with a rich yellow center. Petals are concave in shape with smooth arched or jagged edges.
- Bowl of Beauty is an abundantly flowering variety that has won the love of gardeners for its amazing decorative effect . The plant is notable for the unusual color of the anemone-like flowers, with purple-pink outer petals and a bright yellow core. The bush is compact and symmetrical, reaching a height of up to 90 centimeters.
- Peter Brand is one of the most spectacular varieties of red peonies. The average height of the plant is 85-90 centimeters. The flowers are large, semi-double, juicy ruby color with a rich yellow center.
- "Buckeye Bell" is a medium-sized variety that forms a compact bush about 80 centimeters high. The plant looks very impressive during flowering. At this time, the peony forms numerous bright burgundy lush flowers, contrasting favorably with dark emerald elongated leaves.
- Kansas is a beautifully flowering varietal peony, valued for its unpretentiousness, cold resistance and attractive appearance. During flowering, the plant is covered with large double flowers of saturated pink color with a lilac shimmer. It blooms profusely, forming about 15-20 inflorescences on one bush. The number of flowers and their sizes depend on the age of the plant.
- “Red Magic” is a luxurious variety with large double flowers of red tones. The palette of shades varies from rich burgundy to cranberry wine. Thick cirrus and rounded petals give the flowers a voluminous spherical shape. The variety is very decorative, cold-resistant, resistant to a wide range of diseases.
- “Pink Hawaiian Coral” is a very famous and popular variety bred by American breeders. The plant forms a beautiful bush up to 90 centimeters high. The leaves have an elongated shape and a uniform dark green color. The flowers are of medium size (about 15 centimeters in diameter), juicy coral-pink hue, thickening along the edges of the petals, and a bright yellow core.
- “Laura Dessert” is a tall variety used for both group and single plantings. Forms a strong and strong bush with strong long stems. The flowers are medium-sized (14-15 centimeters in diameter), double, very fragrant, pinkish-yellow in color.
- "Karl Rosenfeld" - one of the brightest and most spectacular varieties of peonies in purple-red. A mature bush can reach about 95 centimeters in height, has strong and strong stems, thick elongated leaves. Forms terry spherical flowers, the color of which can vary from ruby red to purple and raspberry shade. Intensively bloom begins about 3-4 years after planting.
- "Top Brass" is a luxurious variety that is widely used in landscape design. The plant has a powerful and strong bush, reaching a height of 95-100 centimeters. During flowering, forms large (up to 18 centimeters) and voluminous double flowers. External petals have a milky color, smoothly turning into a pink-yellow hue in the center of the inflorescence. The variety is characterized by frost resistance, and therefore perfectly survives in difficult climatic conditions.
- Celebrity is a fantastic two-color variety, notable not only for its unusual color of flowers, but also for its intense growth. The plant quickly enough forms a compact and symmetrical bush, the volume of which is attached to the openwork and slightly dissected foliage. The flowers are terry, spherical in shape, have an original pink and white color.
- "Bark Stubbs" is a fairly well-known and old variety recommended for cultivation in single and group plantings. It enters the flowering phase in May-June. During this period, the plant forms a lot of terry flowers, the outer petals of which are purple-pink, and the inside is soft cream.
- "White Crane" - a spectacular variety of medium-late flowering. The plant has a strong and well-developed bush, glossy green foliage and strong long stems. Flowers are large, double, piercing white. The height of a mature bush is capable of reaching 100 centimeters.
- "Golden Halo" - a fast-growing variety, in the flowering period, forming large and multi-layered double flowers of a noble shade of ivory with light yellowness. Graceful and dense elongated foliage gives the plant a special decorative effect, making the bush more voluminous, airy and embossed.
- “Prairie Charm” is a very unusual hybrid with medium-sized semi-double flowers of exotic colors. The outer petals of this peony are painted a pale yellow color with a slight greenish tint, and a purple ring adorns the core.
So that these delightful inhabitants of the garden can feel great and regularly delight their owner with luxurious flowering, they need to create the most comfortable conditions. This implies the fulfillment of such requirements as:
- the right choice of place;
- suitable soil composition;
- correct irrigation mode;
- timely top dressing.
Most of these herbaceous perennials prefer sunny places, but tolerates a slight shade in the midst of a hot day. Lack of lighting negatively affects the state of peonies, leading to a reduction in the number and size of their flowers.
It is very important that the place where the peonies grow is protected from gusts of wind and drafts that can harm the plants. You also need to make sure that this place is warm enough and warms up well throughout the day.
In addition, good ventilation of the air is important to peonies. They feel best in the fresh air, where they are provided with a constant flow of oxygen in the absence of pronounced drafts.
These perennials prefer to grow in areas where the soil has a slightly acidic or neutral reaction. Acidic soils are not suitable for peonies.
The best way for these perennials is loose, well-drained and fertile soil.
It is important to note that areas with high groundwater levels are not suitable for growing peonies. In such places, moisture stagnates regularly, which these flowers categorically cannot stand.
Considering that peonies react painfully to excess moisture in the soil, they should be watered with great care. Experienced gardeners claim that in moderately hot summers, only two waterings will be sufficient for these plants: at the end of June and at the end of August.
In dry summers, flowers need to be watered more often, controlling the degree of soil moisture. It is impossible to prevent stagnation of water in the area with peonies, allowing the earth's surface to dry after the next watering.
In addition, timely watering during the formation of buds, flowering and active development is also necessary for these plants. When lacking moisture, peonies will begin to spend their energy more economically, which will not affect their appearance, size and number of buds in the best way.
Given that most varietal and hybrid grassy peonies are characterized by intense growth rates and generous flowering, it is very important to feed these plants in a timely manner. So, fertilizing under these flowering perennials is recommended three times a season at such stages as:
- entry into the stage of intensive development;
- stage of formation of buds;
- flowering stage.
Some gardeners also feed peonies after they bloom. It is believed that this fertilizing will allow plants to quickly restore the forces spent on the growth of stems and the formation of buds. Both organic and mineral fertilizers are used for top dressing.
It should be noted that the most important is spring dressing, activating the vital resources of the plant.
How to plant?
Intending to plant these beautiful-flowering perennials in open ground at their site, they begin to prepare the soil a few weeks before the planned event. So, in areas with fertile soil there will be a fairly thorough digging with the introduction of compost or humus.
If the land on the site does not meet the necessary parameters (friability, fertility), you can correct the situation as follows:
- equip landing pits with dimensions of about 65x65x65 centimeters;
- mix the soil extracted from the planting pits with sand, peat, humus or compost, as well as a small amount of wood ash;
- add to the mixture fertilizers based on phosphorus and potassium;
- mix all the components.
Before planting peonies, a drainage layer with a thickness of 10-20 centimeters is laid at the bottom of the prepared pits (the higher the groundwater level in the site, the thicker the drainage layer should be). Next, the pits are filled with the prepared soil mixture, laying it on top of the drainage layer. Having done this procedure, the pits are left for some time so that the earth has settled in them.
Peonies are planted very carefully so as not to damage the roots. The distance between the bushes should be at least a meter. Having placed the plants in the pits, they fill the soil from the sides and around the bushes, slightly compact and water.
How to care?
Peonies are important not only sufficient lighting, watering and feeding. Being actively developing plants, they need timely garter and rejuvenation. In particular, these procedures are necessary for mature plants whose age exceeds 7-8 years.
Garter - a procedure often required by peonies during the formation of buds. Many varieties of these perennials form too large buds and rather heavy flowers, which can lead to the breakdown of flower stems. Garter is desirable to carry out when the buds have not yet had time to acquire large sizes. For this procedure, a wooden support is usually used, to which the stems are tied with a soft rope.
Often a garter is required and too sprawling bushes. In this case, wooden stakes are stuck into the ground around the plant, on which several rows of a soft cord are fixed round.
Rejuvenation is a procedure that is recommended to be performed every 5-7 years. Peonies are rejuvenated by dividing the bush, which is performed at the end of summer or with the advent of autumn.
Also, care for peonies provides for the implementation of such procedures that are beneficial to the appearance of buds and flowers. If the plant has formed too many buds, it is better to sacrifice some of them, gardeners say. Otherwise, it can drain the bush.
In order for large flowers to form on the plant, it is recommended to remove smaller side buds. Leaving only the central bud on each peduncle, you can achieve full and high-quality flowering without sacrificing the peony itself.
It is important to timely remove dried inflorescences. They not only give the plant an untidy look, but also significantly increase the risk of pest damage.
One of the mandatory procedures that every gardener who grows these wonderful perennials should regularly perform is pre-winter pruning. It should be carried out directly with the advent of stable cooling. During pruning, the aerial part of the plant is removed, leaving only parts of the stems in the basal zone at a height of 3-4 centimeters. Cut leaves and shoots are destroyed, and the remaining part above the ground is covered with ash. In winter, the rest of the bush can be mulched with peat.
However, mulching peonies, you should perform this procedure so as to prevent overheating of the remnants of the bush.
The charm of flowering peonies and their unusual aroma are the main arguments in favor of breeding these amazing perennials. One of the most common methods involves the propagation of plants using the separation of the bush. This procedure is preferably carried out in late summer - early fall.
To do this, carefully dig a mature bush, being careful not to damage the roots. Then you should carefully wash the soil off the roots and leave the plant to dry for several hours. After that, the bush is divided so that on each of the separated parts there are several stems, roots and at least three buds of renewal. All places of cuts are treated with ash or powdered coal, and damaged roots are removed. Treated parts of plants are planted in the same way as whole bushes of peonies.
Some gardeners propagate peonies by seed. In this case, to get a generation of young plants, the seeds are sown before winter. It must be borne in mind that the peonies obtained in this way will bloom only for 4-5 years.
Diseases and Pests
According to experienced gardeners, with proper care, these flowering perennials rarely get sick and are affected by pests. However, when grown in open ground, pests such as aphids, thrips, and spider mites can pose a threat to them. You can get rid of them with the help of drugs "Fitoverm", "Actara", "Actellik" and other insecticides.
Non-compliance with the regime of irrigation and top dressing is often the cause of the defeat of pions by various types of rot (stem, root). You can cope with these diseases through the use of complex fungicidal drugs.
Prevent the development of fungal diseases in the future will allow preventive treatment of plants and compliance with all recommendations for their care.
For more on grassy peonies, see the next video.