I have always loved Peonies so it was a must have in my first Garden at My first home. I researched and found a Canadian Peony Grower and ordered from what I thought was a huge selection of Peonies. This was 27 years ago! Little did I know just how many varieties there really are. I had purchased some Tree Peonies that I planted out at various gardens around the property. When I started the flower business I felt I had to invest in Peonies as well. The internet introduced me to a few great sources with really big Selections of herbaceous, ITOH and Tree Peonies. Adelman’s Peonies and Klehm’s Song Sparrow have incredible root stalks and huge selection available. I would also encourage anyone to joining either or both Canadian and American Peony Societies for a wealth of information and additional sources for peony roots.
But Peonies are an investment for a number of reasons. First, plan your location carefully because Peonies don’t like to be moved. Second, you must dis-bud for the first two years or even a third. Disbudding forces new root development which means more eyes (and stems) the following year. It is difficult to do because you will want to see the bloom ‘in person’ but the payoff is loads of blooms in the end. If you move them you have to repeat the process of three year wait for bloom! Third, plan your garden to include Early, Mid and Late Season varieties so you can have a month or so of continuous peony blooms!!!!!
There are three main types of peonies - Herbaceous, Tree, Itoh. Herbaceous are the most common types usually seen. Tree peonies are a deciduous for of peony, and usually a grafted onto a herbaceous root stalk, but have enormous almost fake looking blooms. Itohs are a cross between a tree peony and a herbaceous peony but in flower colours not normally seen in either type of peony. Certainly combinations of all three in a garden add to the display created by their characteristics. The herbaceous peony has softer stems that die back each fall to the ground (and should be trimmed back to the ground). The Tree Peony, on the other hand, is deciduous meaning that it resumes growth from where it left off in the fall. The only catch is that they need a little extra care as the buds can be hit hard by spring frost, and our winter winds can be extra hard on them. Itohs are crosses of these two and utilize the best qualities of each. They die back to the ground each fall making them less susceptible to hard Spring frosts, and the flowers are similar to Tree peonies with even more colour variations.
Herbaceous peonies have 5 main types:
Single - one or more rows of petals (guards) which surround a centre of stamens
Anenome and Japanese - partially transformed stamens - petal like, that are not pollen bearing
Semi double -Greater number of petals emerging from the crown of the flower
Double -Multiple petals emerging from. the crown of the flower to there point that the crown is covered by the petals.
Bomb - guard petals (outside) are shorter than the petaloid. There are no stakes as they are transformed into petals, and there is no pollen present.
I have no photos of a Bomb peony but a good example is Red Charm.
Photos of each example and the variety follow.
Itoh Peonies or intersectionals