In Praise of Peonies

One of our favorite spring blossoms has surprising longevity.

Beauty is determined but not always persistent. Daffodils, tulips and dahlias may come and go over the years, but fortunately for us mere mortals, the divine peony, that lusty vixen of spring flowers, will not just up and leave for the sweet hereafter as the years go by. Given some serious preening and doting on in its formative years, the peony and its bewitching plumage will stick around for, well, maybe a century. “Peonies don’t like to be disturbed, and they thrive on neglect once they are established, so don’t overwater them,” advises Laurie McMinn. Currently a horticulturist at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, McMinn previously cared for 100-year-old peonies while working as Historic Grounds Supervisor at Lynchburg’s Old City Cemetery.

Make no mistake, these hardy, drought-tolerant perennials can be a bit needy: lots of sun, well-drained soil and planted not too deep. Their pleasantly bushy green foliage should be trimmed to the ground after it browns in the fall. Add a sprinkle of bone meal for newly bedded plants and chances are good you will be able to enjoy the fluffy single and double blossoms for decades to come. 

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Virginia Living Museum
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August 13, 2022

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Virginia Living Museum