The Simple Secret to Extending Peony Blooming in Your Garden!
How to Extend Peony Bloom Season in Your Garden
We gardeners have a love affair with peonies. The huge, romantic blooms with their sensual fragrance and luscious colors are a boon to any cold winter garden. Peonies are incredibly long lived plants that need little care and are highly resistant to deer. The one complaint of all peony growers? They want more time to enjoy those fabulous blooms! Let's see how to make this work!
Peonies bloom for 100 years or more, but the glory of peony blooms lasts just a week to 10 days in your garden. To extend the time that you can enjoy the season of peony blooms in your garden, plant varieties that bloom at different times within the roughly 6-week period of peony blooming. Different peony varieties bloom earlier or later within the peony blooming window, and are labeled as early blooming peonies, mid season blooming peonies and late blooming peonies. This timing is reliable from one year to the next. In Wisconsin, the exact date an "early blooming peony" begins to bloom will be very different from the date the same variety planted in Oregon will bloom. However, they will still bloom before mid and later bloomers planted in the same location. So to extend the peony blooms in your garden, be sure to plant early, mid season and late blooming peonies. You might even want to go so far as the plant earliest, early season, early mid season, mid season, late mid season and late blooming varieties to truly maximize the time you have peonies blooming in your garden every year.
Early Season Blooming Peonies
The first peonies to bloom, known as early blooming peonies, include a glorious selection of colors, flower forms and fragrance. In addition to the traditional pink and white, several luscious coral varieties are all early blooming peonies like Coral Charm, Coral Sunset and Pink Hawaiian Coral. Gardeners in mild winter climates, or where summer heat comes early, should plant early blooming peony varieties, to be sure the plants can fully flower before the heat sets in and shortens the life of the blooms.
Examples of Early Blooming Peonies include: Charlie's White, Coral Charm, Coral Sunset and Pink Hawaiian Coral.
Early Mid-Season Blooming Peonies
Next, we have the early mid-season blooming peonies, those that flower after the early bloomers listed above, but before the mid-season blooming peonies. These offer a wonderful variety of colors and flower forms in addition to that incredible fragrance!
Early mid-season peonies include: Duchess de Nemours, Festiva Maxima, Gardenia, Gay Paree, Henry Bockstoce, Kansas, Lady Alexandra Duff, Monsieur Jules Elie, Paula Fay, Red Charm, Shirley Temple and Sorbet.
Mid Season Blooming Peonies
The next set of peonis are true mid-season blooming varieties, and contain many cherished heirloom peonies that have graced gardens in America since before the Declaration of Independence!
Late Blooming Peonies
Late blooming peonies are best planted in climates where the summer heat waits til July. Many romantic favorites are to be found among the late bloomers, with the extraordinary Peony Sword Dance the last to flower.
Perhaps the short blooming time of peonies is intended to make sure we cherish their exceptional beauty - however fleeting. Surely there are valuable life lessons we can learn from just a single peony plant. But for those who cherish these romantic blooms, one peony is never enough! Will you be planting peonies this fall? Or do you already grow peonies with different blooming times? Please take a moment to leave a comment and let me know!
- Kathleen McCarthy