One of my favorite flowers is the peony. I love their bold yet lacy beauty and the delicate to daring, colors they bloom in. Unfortunately I am in zone 18 (according to the Sunset magazine guide). We rarely get frost in my neighborhood (peonies like a chill in the winter) and we can warm up in the summer to the mid-to high eighties, even nineties, this is not an ideal climate for peonies. Until now?
I just read that there is a variety of peony called ‘Itoh’—a cross between herbaceous and tree peonies—not sure what that means exactly…but if it means I might be able to cut a peony blossom from my yard occasionally I’m up for giving a 5-gallon plant a try.
According to Sunset you can plant the ‘Itoh’ peony in spring or fall. You want to make sure the rootball is level with the soil line—taking care not to disturb the tender feeder roots. The article even says you can plant them in containers if the container is larger than the container the plant came in from the nursery.
Add plenty of compost mix to your planting soil. The plants should be watered regularly and you should feed them once when the plant starts to leaf using a low nitrogen fertilizer (5-10-10) and again after the last flower of the season fades. The article also said that as the plant ages there will be a noticeable increase in blossoms…especially after 3 years in the ground.
I realize that most of the U.S. probably can grow peonies with ease, it’s just that here in Zone 18 of Southern California we miss out on lilacs and peonies, two of my favorites. We can grow hydrangea without much difficulty so that’s the consolation prize for living where it’s warm nearly every day! If any of you have grown these peonies successfully, please give me any and all advice you may have on how to do it.