MySecretGarden

U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tree Peony Blooming

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My tree peony is blooming! Since I wrote about it in 2009, the plant got bigger, bushier and now gives me five blooms instead of two.
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For this post, I use the 2010 pictures and the text that I wrote a year ago.
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If you want to see how the plant looked a year ago, the post is here My First And Only Tree Peony
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A sea of wild peonies is one of my childhood memories. We were little, and the plants seemed to be very high. The flowers were white and pink. When I saw the first plant, I wanted to pick it up and take it home. Then, I saw another one and couldn' t
decide which one was better. Then, another and another. I was walking from flower to flower. It was a clear sunny day and the air was filled with an unbelievable aroma. When at last I lifted my head and looked around, I realized we were surrounded by hundreds, maybe thousands, of peonies.
It was one of the small islands on the Bikin river in the Russian Far East. We went there by boat. My family had potatoes planted there. It's hard to believe, but in those days, people in rural areas used to start vegetable gardens wherever they could find a good size lot with nice soil. Remember, the land belonged to the people in the USSR! There was no private property. I am not sure you could do it now, but there we were - on our own, on some small island in the kingdom of wild peonies.
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I love peonies since then. Those were herbaceous peonies - Paeonia lactiflora, a native of Siberia, called Chinese peony with the large, opulent flowers. Tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa) are deciduous shrubs. Their height is usually 3 or 4 feet, but some can grow as tall as 6 feet. The Chinese were the first to cultivate them. The results of their work are large double flowers on the plants which sometimes needed stalking. ( By the way, Tree Peony is regarded as the national flower of China.) The Japanese form of peony has lighter, simpler flowers. From the East, the peony was imported to Europe where new cultivars were created.
One lady at the NW Flower and Garden Show told me that the tree peony is a plant that many people would dig out when they move to a new place.
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I was so concerned about finding the right place for it that it spent two winters in a pot while I was thinking. It didn't bloom last year. This spring, at last, I planted it in front of the house.
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They don't recommend early morning sun for tree peony. I learned it late and this is exactly where I chose the spot for him - eastern exposure, morning sun. Well, maybe they are wrong, because it blooms right now and the blooms are wonderful.
It's recommended to remove all buds from the plant for the first two years to get better blooms. I never did it. My plant is more than two years old. It had just two buds (three buds in 2007 when I bought it). I am not patient and wanted to see them badly!
Peonies like full sun (light afternoon shade in warmer climates), rich, neutral well-drained soil and are hardy from zones 3 to 8. They also say that peonies will grow in part shade and in many different types of soil if you never let them dry or get waterlogged.
It's recommended to plant them with a handful of blood and bone and mulch every fall with garden compost mixed with blood and bone.
Tree peony doesn't like wind and needs good air circulation.
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Tree peonies need to be planted 5"-6" below the soil according to some books, while others say to plant them 3-4" below the grafted portion (3" if they are container grown). Grafted plants (I understand this is what we buy from nurseries) may send up suckers of herbaceous peony that need to be removed. Such suckers have greener leaves and aren't as finely cut as tree peony leaves).
Pruning is recommended to be done in February if needed. Dead or diseased wood should be cut back to a new bud, or down to soil level. They say that the old plants respond well to pruning. Take one main stem a year down to a live bud about a foot above the soil.
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These factors can contribute to a plant not producing any blooms:
- A plant is too young
- Spot is too shady or overcrowded
- Too deeply planted
- Plant was exposed to late freeze
- Too much nitrogen or too little phosphorus or potassium
- Disease.
As for desease and pests, A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants says the peony is prone to Verticillium wilt, ringspot virus, tip blight, stem rot, Botrytis blight, leaf blotch, Japanese beetle and nematodes. Peony Wilt is a fungal disease which can be controlled with good hygiene and air circulation around the plants.
Mature plants don't like to be disturbed. If needed, transplant them in the fall. Experts advise dividing mature peonies rather than transplanting them intact. A plant that is not divided may not bloom for several years! Let the plant die back in the fall, don't cut the foliage and cut the stems back to the ground after the first hard frost.
Peonies need a good cold period of dormancy.
Many parts of the plant - roots, bark, seeds and flowers, are said to have medicinal properties.In the Russian Far East, roots have been wildly used by native people to treat many diseases. Pharmacy-bought peony tincture is used to treat sleeplessness, headache, neurasthenia.
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Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

41 comments:

  1. I want your peony !!! It is gorgeous, I need it ! Thanks for the post, Gina

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  2. Beautiful flowers Tatyana! I missed the post about the tree peony the first time around, and was amazed by the story of the field of peonies from your childhood.

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  3. What a great story and it must have been a wonderful sight to see so many in bloom. Yours is a beauty to be sure. It goes lovely with that pot of tulips too.
    Have a wonderful weekend Tatyana.

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  4. Lovely garden.

    Just thought I'd let you know I visit more often than I comment :) I for one appreciate the large images even if I have to break out of Blotanical to see them without scrolling.

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  5. Such lovely blooms! I too have childhood memories of peonies. Both my parents and grandparents grew them. They always seemed like the most grand of flowers in the garden. I had a few failures when I tried planting them myself, mostly because I didn't realize for years that planting to deeply would affect bloom.

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  6. Hola Tatyana, great lesson about peonies and congratulations for your blooms...my peonies only have given two flowers each and this year petals didn´t open. Here in Chile peonies grow very wildly in the south due to the acid ph of the soil.
    Cariños,
    Maria Cecilia

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  7. Your tree peony is gorgeous!

    I have one that is about five years old and has never grown more than a few leaves each year. I moved it last year thinking it needed a different location but nothing again this year. I think I just need to give up on it. I may try to bring it inside under the grow lights and pamper it and see if I can get it to grow.

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  8. Your tree Peony is so beautiful! I've got ne too, and it's my most precious plant. I'm waiting for the buds to open.

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  9. looks fabulous - those blooms look like they are the size of dinner plates.

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  10. Lovely photos. What a vivid written image: a little girl surrounded by acres of peonies.

    I'm also impressed at how lush everything around the tree peony looks. They say herbaceous peonies can live a hundred years. Is that true for tree peonies?

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  11. Handsome tree and beautiful hugh flowers. I know what you mean about the lack of patience. :)
    Endearing story about your home land as always. The history of years gone by is interesting but your ability to write such enchanting stories is pure talent.
    Thanks.

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  12. Your peony is so gorgeous! Glad that you mentioned the tree peony is the national flower of china. It is also often appearing in Chinese water color paintings. Enjoy your beauty!

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  13. My, that is quite a difference between last year and this. That is so rewarding.
    The blooms are wonderful. Hope they last long.

    Annelie

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  14. Great information, Tatyana. I love tree peonies even more than herbaceous peonies. Your photos are great, especially the second-last one. That flower is really making love to the camera!

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  15. Your peony is extremely beautiful. I like the macros too. Happy Mother's Day!

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  16. Lots of good info here Tatyana, about Tree Peonies. I do like the look of your pink one. Great photos. Ours, which you saw on my blog, which is white is still in a pot. I may actually leave it in the pot, so I can take it with me when or if we move.

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  17. It is good that Peonies love morning sun bath. I thought most plants love early morning sun.., it is breakfast to them to start another day.
    Beautiful flowers these peonies.

    Cheers, have a great weekend.
    ~bangchik

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  18. Tatyana girl : ) Your garden is looking WONDERFUL ! .. I only have a smal single flowered peony called "Blaze" it is my only one .. but this tree peony ! WOW !
    That is so beautiful .. makes me wonder if I could ever have one like that .. no surprise you are so proud of it : ) I would be too .. and such a nice reminder of your childhood memories .. I remember my great aunt's dahlias .. I think they were "dinner plate" size almost .. she was very proud of them : )
    Wonderful post to get people thinking "tree peony just might be for me" ? ;-)
    Joy

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  19. These are very lovely photos. I've been trying to find where in WA you live. My tree peonies in Seattle started 4 weeks ago & have been gone for a week.

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  20. What beautiful photos of your beautiful peony! I have planted my very first tree peony so it is interesting to read and see how yours is doing now after a year in the ground. I also find it fascinating to read about your life in the 'USSR', gardening then, and your memory of a sea of wild peonies. Really lovely.

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  21. What a beautiful peony! I could just picture your childhood field of peonies. Thanks for sharing. Carla

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  22. I eventually would like to grow a tree peony, but they are so expensive that I will wait a few more years. They are gorgeous!

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  23. Wow Tatyana! Incredible pictures of a spectacular plant. Your whole garden is stunning. Thanks for this great post!

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  24. Your Tree Peony is lovely! Do you know its name? The Japanese Maple really sets it off, colorwise and form. You aren't kidding about Tree Peonies not liking wind. They also don't like thunderstorms and hard rain. I confess, I mounted an umbrella over mine once during a storm.

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  25. Stunning peony. You sure have done your research. Is this information for other peonies too? I have my first peony this year - Sarah Bernhardt Peony. It is not a tree.

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  26. Those are truly gorgeous! I am tentatively starting to think of peonies and there's lots to learn. But if they don't like wind, the whole prairie area may not be their ideal area.

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  27. Wonderful photos. I love peonies. For me they beat roses.

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  28. I'm so envious! I've bought tree peonies several times and managed to kill them (they aren't supposed to like my weather -- but I have a neighbor growing them so I keep trying anyway!) Beautiful photos. :)

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  29. The color of that peony--just scrumptious! You must be very proud, Tatyana. I know I would be.

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  30. These peonies look so gorgeous.
    So much that those petals look like fairies.

    I wonder whether those flowers still exist, during those days when you collect all these flowers.

    Reminds me of my younger time, when I used to collect coral vine flowers when they were so abundant alongstreet sides.

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  31. Oh! I too love tree peonies Tatyana! Yours is most beautiful!! It is great how with care they grow larger for us... I love yours with your tulips! Lovely!!

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  32. I have a box full of peonies to plant from a friend. I have no idea what they are or what color they will bloom but I am excited to find out. Surprise flowers are always nice. Happy spring, you your looks beautiful!

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  33. They are the most beautiful color! Okay, now you have me looking around to see where I might throw in a peonies, even if they aren't tree peonies. Folks around here love them and having never had experience with them I've been reluctant, but..hmmm..I might just work a couple into my next garden plan. Thanks for sharing. Oh and your garden area were they are located is fantastic, I love all the varying foliage..very nicely done.

    Rhonda

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  34. Your peony is gorgeous! I love the color. Peonies are a memory from my childhood, too! I think I have talked my brother into giving me a division of a peony he inherited from my parents, one of the ones I loved as a child. So I hope to have a special one of my own next year!

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  35. I have only one tree peony. It was bought for me for Mother's Day three years ago. Every year it seems to do better and better. I have only buds at the moment but I am looking forward to the blooms. Happy Gardening. Valerie

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  36. Hi Tatyana. I planted a tree peony last autumn that had spent 3 years in a pot by my back door! I didn't know any of your information about where and how to plant it either - I just planked it in the 'right' place (ie, where I wanted it!) in my Japanese garden and it's looking really healthy ...despite having had things drop on it as we've built the tea house!
    I've got some buds on it, so I'm hoping it ends up as glorious as yours!!!

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  37. That is gorgeous. I have one that survived our unusually cold winter,but did not bloom. Sigh!

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  38. Tatyana, your tree peony has the most beautiful color and bloom! I am enjoying my little peony 'plant' but you're making me wish mine was a tree peony! How absolutely gorgeous...and I wouldn't have patience to cut off buds for a couple of seasons either! Also, if it's blooming in early morning sun, then it must like it there! I'd let it stay right there too;-)

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