Peonies for the Northern Plains

On a day more like summer than spring, peony blossoms are rescued from the heat for a few days for enjoyment indoors. The white flowers are lightly fragrant, a hint of spice.

Peonies are long-lived perennials that have many magnificent flowers over a week or so in late spring. A characteristic is that the flowers close at night and on cloudy days. 

Native to Asia, ancient Chinese writings describe peonies as a food flavoring, in medicine, as ornamentals, and in art as a symbol of honor.

Peony is named for a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. More than 200 compounds are derived from its genus.  Seeds contribute to the treatment of tumors, cardiovascular and central nervous systems.

Peonies are hardy in changeable Northern Plains weather conditions. Thick roots store plant nutrients. Propagation is most often by root division. Due to their adaptability and potential for long life, peony roots may be divided and shared with friends or moved with the family as a sentimental plant to a new location. 

A favorable location for peonies here is next to a building that offers wind protection for the flowers or near a hardscape that retains moisture. Supplemental watering helps the plant in dry conditions, but little extra care is needed. After petals drop, dead-heading the stem diverts the plant energy from seed production.

As a herbaceous ornamental, the bloom season is short. However, the compound leaves are attractive and continue to provide foliage most of the season. Dead leaves may be trimmed in fall, and the new growth is a welcome sight in spring. 

This peony has a frilly edge of the petals that give a quality of movement even in a photo, or is it my imagination??  It’s a reminder that wind is one of the constants in our region.

Thanks for your visit to Plant Exchange. We hope to see you again next week!

2 thoughts on “Peonies for the Northern Plains

  1. Peonies are so pretty now! I do not grow them yet. They are marginal here where chill is minimal. Some people can grow them. Some can not. I do not know if I can grow them here because I have not tried yet.

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