The Peony—a truly perennial perennial
Why plant a peony in your garden?
The most obvious answer is the sheer beauty of their blooms. It’s difficult to find another garden plant that can match peony flowers for their stunning variations of color and form. The size of their blooms make a bold statement in any garden setting and command attention when arranged in a vase. And there are few rivals for the opulent scent of most peonies.
Here’s another reason. Achieving that level of beauty in the garden doesn’t require all the pruning, spraying, protecting and dividing that, for example, roses or many other perennials require. While peonies may look like delicate charmers, relatively few insects, critters or diseases will harm them. They even prefer the colder temperatures of northern gardens and they are fairly drought tolerant. Plant a peony where it can get at least a half day exposure to the sun, in average soil with average drainage, and even an average gardener will be rewarded by extraordinary beauty.
It may not seem so at first, but peonies are also a great bargain. It is perhaps the most perennial of all garden perennials. Although the initial cost of a quality peony root is more than some other gardens plants, it amounts to just pocket change over the life of a peony. While many gardeners are happy to get six or seven years of out most of their perennial plantings, the peony grower can count on decades of blooms. It’s not unusual for peony plantings to outlive generations of their growers.
With the advances in peony breeding there are now peonies that will be at home in nearly every garden. These include hundreds of varieties of herbaceous peonies, which die back to the ground each year, or the shrub-like tree peonies, which tolerate more shade. The relatively new intersectionals—crosses between the herbaceous and tree peonies—are also now readily available to gardeners.
So the real question you should be asking yourself is not “Why plant a peony in my garden?” instead it should be “Why not plant three or four ... or more?”