Peonies are beautiful puffy flowers that look great growing in the garden but are also perfect in a springtime bouquet. With enough space, they’re surprisingly easy to grow, and doing so will reward you with years worth of flowers to brighten up your home. Here are some tips on peony care - both in the garden and in the vase.
A Brief History of the Peony
Peonies are native to Europe, Asia, and North-West America and there are currently around 30 known varieties. These range from bushes to trees or ones known as Itoh, which are a combination of both.
Bush peonies (also known as herbaceous) usually grow up to 1 metre tall and 1 metre wide. Tree peonies can reach more than 2 metres tall with a spread of around 1.5 metres. Itoh peonies are similar in size to herbaceous peonies but follow the growth pattern of tree peonies.
Peonies are perennial but herbaceous and Itoh peonies die back every year. That said, they can grow and flower in the same place for more than 50 years! Tree peonies, like other trees, don’t die back and can grow up to 15cm a year.
Peonies have various kinds of flowers ranging from a single ring of petals to multiple layers. Tree peonies have much larger flowers and their foliage is a deeper green. Flower colours include white, yellow, coral, red, and maroon, but can change daily as the blooms open.
Peonies in Flower Language
Peonies have different meanings depending on where in the world you live. In the West, for example, peonies symbolise bashfulness, and the Victorians even believed that if you left dying flowers on the bush you’d be cursed with bad luck.
In China and Japan, however, peonies symbolise everything from wealth and prosperity to bravery and honour. Peonies are popular during Chinese New Year, and for a long time were only used by Emperors.
The modern symbolism of peonies revolves around good luck, love, honour, and passion. Pink peonies are common in wedding bouquets because they symbolise good luck, while red peonies stand for passion and respect. Whichever colour you choose, you can be sure they’ll be looked upon positively!