Flower Spotlight – The Peony
What’s my favourite flower you say? Hands down, the peony! Whether it’s growing in the garden, in a vase on my table, or tucked into a bridal bouquet, the peony is a star…so how do you make them shine bright in your garden?
Thankfully they are a fairly easy and low maintenance perennial. Once established, the peony does not require much care. They do not however like to be moved, so put a little thought into where you plant them. Ideally, you should plant your peony tubers in the fall, in rich, well drained soil where they will receive sun either all or most of the day. (In warmer climates they will tolerate a bit more shade). In Ontario you can expect blooms from the end of May into June.
You may have heard that peonies need ants on them in order to bloom. This is an old wives tale and is simply not true…a peony will bloom whether or not there are ants present. Having said that, the ant and the peony do have a special relationship. During the bud stage the peony secretes a nectar which the ants eat, thus the reason they crawl all over the peony. In return for this snack, the ants eat other insects which can harm the flower. So if you see ants on your peony, just let them be. They will not harm it, and are taking care of the pests that can.
Now the question remains….to enjoy the blooms in the garden or to snip and bring them inside? Peonies make a wonderful cut flower and are definitely one of the most requested flowers for bridal bouquets. As a cut flower a peony should last about a week, depending on how open it was when it was cut. Here are a few tips to extend the life of the peony once it’s cut, letting you enjoy it’s beauty just a little bit longer.
1. If cutting out of your garden, you can snip buds as soon as they are just starting to show a bit of colour.
2. Fill a vase with clean, fresh water and add flower food(if you have it).
3. Give stems a fresh cut, remove all foliage that will be below the waterline, and place in vase.
4. To extend the life of your peonies, place in a cool spot, out of direct sunlight.
5. Change the water every few days, giving them a fresh cut when you do.
Now hopefully Mother Nature gives us a break so these beautiful peonies will be in bloom soon!