Posted by Aaron Barton on May 4th 2021

May 10th, 2021


As Spring continues to rouse slumbering perennials from their winter dormancy, breathing new signs of life into dormant garden beds and giving way to exciting shades of green, one of our favorite spring bloomers to watch for is the peony (pee-uh-nee). There are many species of cultivated peony, all of which are in the family Paeoniaceae. Peonies, native to many parts of the world including western and northern North America, are put on one of the most stunning displays of color, signifying that spring is here, and bloom prolifically usually from late May through early-June. In addition to their incredible spring color, many peonies, such as ‘Duchess de Nemours’ provide incredibly and wonderfully fragrant blooms, while others such as the fern leaf variety ‘Early Scout’ have intricate foliage to add to their beauty, with all peony varieties providing lovely green foliage throughout the season long after blooming.

While these massive blooms are an incredible sight to see, peony plants do appreciate when gardeners lend them a helping hand, as these blooms are also quite heavy for the plant. Be sure to support your peony plants with peony cages as they emerge in the spring to ensure that your plants stay nice and upright, and to keep those blooms looking their best for as long as possible. Peony cages, much like tomato cages, provide support for the plant and keep them from flopping over once they are in full bloom.

There is, however, an exciting hybrid variety of peony, called the Itoh (ee-toe) peony (sometimes also referred to as ‘intersectional peonies’). These peonies are an exciting hybrid of typical mounding-habit peonies and tree-peonies, providing the large blooms and typical growth habit of shrub peonies, without requiring any support or staking to remain upright throughout the season. Tonkadale has many exciting varieties of Itoh peonies including ‘Julia Rose’ and ‘Takara.’

Peonies prefer a site that provides full-sun or only very light shade, has rich, well-draining soil, and also has excellent circulation around the plant to ensure dry, healthy foliage. Also be sure to fertilize your peonies with compost or Espoma Plant Tone each year to keep them blooming well. Plant peonies as accents along walkways or as great centerpieces in your spring gardens for an incredible spring display of color.

Happy planting!