Paeonia or peonys are best situated in sun or semi-shade, in a spot that is moist, well drained, and shaded from the early morning sun to avoid frost damage.
They are quite an easy plant to grow once they have become established and can remain in the same position indefinitely.
They like cold winters and generally flower better afterwards.
Contrary to popular opinion they can be moved.
What often happens is when re-planting they are planted too deeply and / or in the wrong place, and it is this that has given rise to the opinion.
The tuberous roots should be planted 25mm (1") below the soil surface.
Containerised plants should be planted at the same level as they are in their pots.
They grow to around 750-900mm (30"-36") in height, with a similar spread.
Stake or fix sturdy semi-circular or grow through circular hoops in April to prevent blooms from flopping in wet weather.
The flowers can be single, semi-double or double and appear in early June through to July.
Some varieties are fragrant!
It is advisable to deadhead the flowers as they fade and become unsightly.
This also prevents the plants going to the effort of setting seed.
If seed is required for supplementing stock leave a few seed pods on the plant to ripen.
All parts of the plant is toxic and may cause discomfort if ingested.
Annually mulch around plant with well rotted manure,but not too deeply, and water freely in dry weather.
Paeonies can be raised from seed but will not come true to variety.
Sow seed in pots/trays containing a proprietary seed compost and place in cold frame to germinate.
Prick out the following May and grow on in a cold frame or nursery bed for three or four years.
When of a suitable size to plant out, plant out in September/October.
Before planting out prepare the hole with a liberal helping of well rotted manure and a handful of bonemeal.
Set the crown of the plant no more than 25mm (1") below ground level, and one metre apart in any moist but well drained soil, in sun or partial shade.
They can take several years to establish, and resent root disturbance, therefore consideration to site location is important.
If necessary lift and divide congested clumps of herbaceous paeonia plants that have shown a marked decline in flowering.
Lift and handle the tuber clusters carefully and take special care not to damage the dormant growth buds when dividing them up.
Ensure that each piece of root has a dormant bud on it.
Replant the divisions into ground that has been deeply dug and fortified with well rotted manure, then fork in a handful of bonemeal on completion.
Cut down the foliage on mature plants.
Pests and Diseases:
Peony wilt can be a problem but not terminal,in most cases plants recover the following year.
It tends to strike during wet summers.
Remove and destroy the wilted foliage.
Watch out for Eelworms on the leaves or buds and the larvae of the Swift moth.