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Peony

The peony or paeony is a flowering plant in the genus Paeonia, the only genus in the family Paeoniaceae. Scientists differ on the number of species that can be distinguished, ranging from 25 to 40, although the current consensus is 33 known species. Peonies are native to Asia, Europe and Western North America and several species are cultivated as ornamentals and for the floral industry. There are three distinct groups of peonies: the herbaceous Eurasian peonies, the Asian tree, or moutan, peonies, and the North American peonies.



Most are herbaceous perennial plants 0.25–1 metre (1–3 ft) tall, but some are woody shrubs 0.25–3.5 metres (1–11 ft) tall. They have compound, deeply lobed leaves and large, often fragrant flowers, in colors ranging from purple and pink to red, white or yellow, in late spring and early summer. The flowers have a short blooming season, usually only 7–10 days. Peonies are popular garden plants in temperate regions. Herbaceous peonies are also sold as cut flowers on a large scale, although generally only available in late spring and early summer.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

2 - 11 feet (Depending on variety)


Width-Circumference (Avg)

2 - 4 feet


Approximate pH

6.5 - 7.0


Growth Nutrition of Peony


Phosphorus and nitrogen are important nutrients for a peony over its lifetime. You must ensure proper levels each year so that your plants will grow as they should and produce vivid blooms. Apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer -- a 5-10-10 blend, for instance -- to the soil around the peony stem.


Categories, Types and Varieties of Peonies


Category of Peonies:


These species of peonies fall into a few different categories of varieties based on their growth habits.


Tree Peonies


This type of peony flower produces lovely perennial blossoms and new growth that turns woody at the end of each growing season and remains throughout winter. Tree peonies reach maturity within about 10 growing seasons and can grow to be about 5 feet tall.


Herbaceous Peonies


Herbaceous peonies produce rounded mounds or clumps of new foliage and growth each spring and summer growing season. This new growth dies back during winter dormancy to be produced again the next spring.


Itoh (Intersectional) Peonies


This variety of peonies gets its name from the Japanese horticulturist Toichi Itoh who first fertilized herbaceous peonies with pollen from tree peonies. These unique, intersectional cultivars are herbaceous but produce leaves that resemble those of tree peonies.


Types of Peonies Flower Form:


Single: A single or double row broad petals encircle the stamens, while the carpels remain visible.


Japanese: A single or double row broad petals encircle somewhat broadened staminodes, may carry pollen along the edges.


Anemone: A single or double row broad petals encircle narrow incurved petal-like stamen, while fertile stamens are absent, carpels visible.


Semi-double: A single or double row of broad petals encircle further broad petals intermingled with stamens.


Bomb: A single row of broad petals encircles a shorter dense pompon of narrower petals.


Double: The flower consists of many broad petals only, including those that must be altered stamens and carpels


Varieties of Peony:


Sarah Bernhardt (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’)



A recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, the Sarah Bernhardt peony is beloved for its exceptionally large (8 inches across) flowers. These full double blossoms bloom in late spring to early summer in a cheerful, cotton-candy-pink color. The inner petals are ruffled for added fullness, and raspberry-colored flecks occasionally mark the rosy petals.


Rubra Plena Peony (Paeonia x festiva ‘Rubra Plena’)



Thought to have been popularly cultivated in gardens since at least the 17th century, the rubra plena peony is one of the older peony cultivars. The perennial boasts large, full double flower blossoms that open in spring, stained with vibrant shades that range from magenta to deep crimson.


Bowl of Beauty (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Bowl of Beauty’)



The single flower type of the bowl of beauty peony has a unique signature appearance with a ring of broad magenta petals cradling a round central pom of vibrant, frilly yellow-colored stamens and carpels. This late to mid-season peony is a recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.


Red Charm (Paeonia ‘Red Charm’)



A recipient of the American Peony Society Gold Medal, the red charm peony is a hybrid that will add an eye-catching allure to any garden with its floriferous profusion of frilly, blood-red, bomb-shaped flower blossoms. Tolerant of heat and perfect for cut flowers, this perennial blooms in late spring to early summer.


Festiva Maxima (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Festiva Maxima’)



This herbaceous perennial peony produces abundant double blossoms bursting with frilly petals in the late spring and early summer. The flowers are usually pure-white but are occasionally flecked or striped with striking dashes of crimson. A popular addition to gardens for more than 150 years, this lovely peony has received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.


Bartzella Itoh Peony (Paeonia ‘Bartzella’)



These peonies feature large (6 to 8 inches across) double blossoms in a buttery shade of bright yellow with centers that are stained slightly reddish-orange. These herbaceous perennials emit a prominent sweet and spicy floral fragrance.


Karl Rosenfield Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Karl Rosenfield’)



These peonies are a garden favorite and produce truly showstopping, full double, 6-inch flowers in a classic, eye-catching cherry-red color. Karl Rosenfield peony plants blossom in early summer and feature sturdy stalks, making them an excellent choice for cutting gardens. These beauties are long-lasting in bouquets.


Buckeye Belle Peony (Paeonia ‘Buckeye Belle’)



The buckeye belle peony blooms in spring with semi-double blossoms that bring a demure elegance to the garden with deep, velvety shades of red and burgundy offset by prominent, golden-hued staminodes. This peony has been awarded the American Peony Society Gold Medal, and planting one in your garden will bring award-winning blossoms for 7 to 10 days in late spring.


Moon of Nippon (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Moon of Nippon’)



This late-spring peony emits a lovely fragrance in the garden but is most notable for its unique appearance. The Japanese-style blossoms of the Moon of Nippon peony resemble sunny-side-up eggs with two rows of broad, snowy-white petals encircling a perfect half-sphere of golden-yellow staminodes that closely resemble an egg yolk.


Gardenia Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Gardenia’)



Thanks to its delicate, elegantly blushing blooms, the full double gardenia peony is one of the most popular garden varieties. These flowers start out as light-pink buds and open to reveal a thick pom of broad, ivory petals that are graced with just the slightest rosy dusting around their outer edges.


Reine Hortense Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Reine Hortense’)



The Reine Hortense variety is another popular garden peony producing full double flowers atop sturdy, red stems. This peony is most beloved for its light, rosy-pink blossoms that feature slightly wavy or frilled petal edges giving its flowers a lively tissue-papery appearance that looks stunning in any garden or bouquet.


Raspberry Sundae Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Raspberry Sundae’)



The raspberry sundae peony has a fragrance sweet enough to rival its sugar-coated, ice-cream-treat appearance. This perennial produces bomb-style flowers with wavy petals in variegated shades of creamy white and delicate raspberry pink. This peony variety blooms in mid to late spring with the pink and yellow hues of its petals becoming increasingly prominent as the season grows later.


Shirley Temple Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Shirley Temple’)



Just like their namesake, Shirley Temple peonies really know how to put on a show. These beauties blossom with large, full double flowers from late spring to early summer for 7 to 10 days. Early on, these ruffled flowers blush with just a hint of delicate pink. As they continue to open, they gradually fade to elegant ivory.


Gay Paree Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Gay Paree’)



Most peonies can rightfully be called garden showstoppers, and Gay Paree peonies are no exception. These herbaceous perennials produce anemone-shaped blossoms with a double ring of broad cerise-pink petals surrounding a puffy center of ivory-white petal-like staminodes. In addition to their gorgeous looks, Gay Paree peonies also emit a romantically sweet fragrance.


Cardinal Vaughan (Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Cardinal Vaughan’)


The Cardinal Vaughan peony is a tree variety peony that produces semi-double flowers with broad, papery petals ranging from a purplish-magenta hue to a ruby red. The double row of petals forms a bowl shape around a bright-yellow center of stamens.


Lemon Chiffon Peony (Paeonia ‘Lemon Chiffon’)



This variety of peony could not be more aptly named, as you can almost taste the perfectly lemon-yellow color of the lemon chiffon peony’s semi-double blossoms. The flowers feature ruffled rows of lemon-yellow petals that encircle a center of golden stamens and orange filaments. This peony has received the American Peony Society Best in Show award.


Charlie’s White (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Charlie’s White’)



Charlie’s white peonies have a shrubby growth habit and produce enormous, snowball-like, white, double blossoms with slightly golden staminodes at their centers. These ruffled white flowers can blossom up to 8 inches in diameter at their largest. Although they sprout atop sturdy stems, the sheer size of these blossoms means they often need to be staked for support.


Martha Bulloch (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Martha Bulloch’)


The Martha Bulloch peony is one of the classic, most loved peony plants available. In late spring through early summer, this herbaceous perennial peony produces abundant, large, rosy pink double blossoms that emit a lovely perfume. These flowers can last more than a week in water when cut while still in bud form.


Fairy Princess (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Fairy Princess’)



The single-style flower blossoms of the fairy princess peony offer a demure elegance to any garden. A single row of velvety, broad petals flushed with a deep red hue surrounds a golden-yellow center of petite stamens and carpels. This herbaceous perennial blooms in early spring and is one of the smallest peony plants, reaching a comparatively diminutive height of just about 15 inches.


Claire de Lune (Paeonia ‘Claire de Lune’)



This hybrid peony is one of the first to bloom in early spring. It has a single-style peony flower form with a row of crinkled, creamy-white petals surrounding a prominently golden, moon-shaped center of fuzzy carpels and stamens.


Mother’s Choice Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Mother’s Choice’)



This late spring to early summer bloomer is the recipient of the American Peony Society Gold Medal. It produces full double flowers that are predominantly ivory-colored but tinged with a delicately faint rosy blush. Fully open, these blossoms resemble large, lush roses. Borne atop strong, sturdy stems, the mother’s choice peony makes a wonderful addition to any low-maintenance garden.


Joker Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Joker’)



A recent (2021) recipient of the American Peony Society’s Gold Medal Award, the joker peony is a popular herbaceous garden hybrid. Its 6-inch full double flower blossoms open up with thick, vibrant fuchsia-colored petals. The central petals later fade to a lighter shade of pink, giving mature blossoms a strikingly variegated or dip-dyed appearance in the garden. With upright blooms and sturdy stems, joker peonies do not require support or staking.


Do Tell Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Do Tell’)



This award-winning peony has both a Gold Medal and an Award of Landscape Merit. Do Tell peonies produce mildly fragrant, anemone-shaped flowers with a corona of round petals in a delicate shade of whitish, shell-like pink. At the center of the blossoms stand prominent centers of rose and golden-colored staminodes.


Bride’s Dream Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Bride’s Dream’)



The bride’s dream peony produces elegant Japanese-style flower blossoms. Each flower features a ring of large snowy-white petals surrounding a prominent center pom-pom of creamy-white, feathery petaloids. These peonies bloom in abundance with many side buds, making them a striking addition to your late-spring garden.


Chocolate Soldier Peony (Paeonia ‘Chocolate Soldier’)



One of the darkest-colored peony hybrids you can find, the chocolate soldier produces flowers with velvety petals in a luscious shade of deep, chocolatey red. Aside from the unique color of its flowers, the chocolate soldier peony also stands apart from other peonies because a single plant can produce a range of flower shapes including both Japanese blossoms with golden-yellow staminodes and full double blossoms with a complete pom of cocoa-colored petals.


Jean Erickson Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Jean Erickson’)


The Jean Erickson peony produces copious Japanese-style blossoms with numerous buds in late spring to early summer. These blossoms open up in a striking shade of crimson red with broad, rounded guard petals surrounding a central tuft of staminodes in the same blood-red shade. The staminodes’ tips fade from red to silver as the season progresses.


Chojuraku Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Chojuraku’)



This stunning tree peony produces striking double blossoms in an eye-catching shade of lavender with dark, almost-black purple flares toward the bases of the inner petals. These cool-colored petals surround a warm center of golden stamens. Highly fragrant, the chojuraku (joy of longevity) peony reaches about 3 to 5 feet in height and will draw butterflies to your garden.


Athena Peony (Paeonia ‘Athena’)



The Athena peony is actually a quadruple hybrid of four different peonies. It is one of the first peonies to blossom in spring, revealing its highly unusual yet strikingly beautiful, bowl-shaped single blossoms. Each flower has a single ring of round, creamy-white petals marked with a central flare of lavender-pink. Inside the bowl of petals, rests a prominent central cluster of gold-yellow staminodes and red-tipped carpels.


Kansas Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Kansas’)



A recipient of the American Peony Society Gold Medal, the Kansas peony boasts large, rose-shaped double blossoms. With petals in a striking shade that ranges from magenta to cherry-red, resembling the juicy insides of a ripe watermelon, this peony is most notable for its intense coloring that does not fade in the sun.


Miss America Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Miss America’)



A recipient of both the American Peony Society Gold Medal and the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, the Miss America peony puts on quite the show throughout its flowering season in late spring to early summer. The closed buds of this plant’s semi-double blossoms start out a delicate shade of blushing pink and gradually fade, as they open, to a pristine, snowy-white with modest central pom-poms of golden staminodes.


White Cap Peony (Paeonia ‘White Cap’)



The buds of the white cap peony are pretty small and dark, blending in with their surrounding foliage. However, when one of these non-descript buds opens, it reveals a true firework of a Japanese-style peony flower blossom. White cap peony flowers have a ruffled, magenta frill of broad outer petals surrounding a prominent feathery pom-pom of inner filaments in a delicate shade of creamy white to blush flecked with raspberry streaks throughout.


Planting Peony


Peonies are not too fussy, but choose your location wisely, as they resent disturbance and do not transplant well.


Peonies like full sun, and though they can manage with half a day, they bloom best in a sunny spot that gets 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day.


Provide shelter from strong winds, as peonies’ large blooms can make them top heavy. (Use stakes to hold them up, if necessary.) Don’t plant too close to trees or shrubs, as peonies don’t like to compete for food, light, and moisture.


Grow peonies in deep, fertile, humus-rich, moist soil that drains well. Soil pH should be neutral.


When to Plant Peonies


Peony plants require little maintenance as long as they are planted properly and establish themselves. Note, however, that they do not respond well to transplanting, so you should plan your planting site accordingly.

  • Plant peonies in the fall: in late September and October in most of the U.S.

  • If you must move a mature plant, fall is the time to do it—specifically, when the plant has gone dormant.

  • Peonies should be settled into place about six weeks before the ground freezes.

  • Although it’s certainly possible to plant peonies in the spring, spring-planted peonies just don’t do as well. Experts agree: they generally lag about a year behind those planted in the fall.


How to Plant Peonies

  • Peonies are usually sold as bare-root tubers with 3 to 5 eyes (buds), divisions of a 3- or 4-year-old plant.

  • Space peonies 3 to 4 feet apart to allow for good air circulation between the plants. Stagnant, humid air can be a recipe for disease to develop.

  • Dig a generous-sized hole, about 2 feet deep and 2 feet across in well-drained soil in a sunny spot. The soil will benefit from the addition of organic material in the planting hole. If the soil is heavy or very sandy, enrich it with extra compost. Incorporate about one cup of bonemeal into the soil.

  • Set the root so the eyes face upward on top of a mound of soil in the hole, placing the roots just 2 inches below the soil surface. Don’t plant too deep! (In southern states, choose early-blooming varieties, plant them about 1 inch deep, and provide some shade.)

  • Then, backfill the hole, taking care that the soil doesn’t settle and bury the root deeper than 2 inches. Tamp the soil gently.

  • When planting a container-grown peony, cover it no deeper than it grew in the pot.

  • Water thoroughly at the time of planting.


Peony Care


Peonies are classic garden plants that can thrive for decades with minimal care when planted in soil that meets their needs. One of the longest-lived of all garden plants, peonies are sometimes handed down from generation to generation in families. It is important to do the initial planting correctly because peonies can be temperamental about being moved once they are established.


Give each peony plant enough space to grow to maturity without being crowded. That means a 3- to 4-foot diameter for each plant. Choose a location that is sheltered from strong winds. The large heavy blooms of this plant can cause the stems to flop over during heavy rain and inclement weather. Your peonies will benefit from some type of support staking. Plant them well away from other trees and shrubs, since they don't like to compete for nutrients and water.


Peonies like a good chill in the winter. In order to set their flower buds, peony roots should be planted relatively close to the soil surface—only about 2-to 3-inches deep. It may feel odd to leave roots so exposed, but peonies actually need this chilling to attain dormancy and set buds.


Light


Peonies need a location that receives at least 6-hours of sun each day and a full day of sun is even better. Without sufficient sunlight, you’ll get fewer blooms and smaller flowers, and the plants will have a greater risk of fungal diseases.


Soil


Peonies are very adaptable, but ideally, they like a well-drained, slightly acidic soil (6.5-7.0 pH). If you are planting in heavy, clay soil, amending with compost or a soil mix labeled for azaleas and rhododendrons will make it easier for your peony plant to settle in. Since peonies can remain in the same spot for upwards of 70 years, taking the time to prepare the soil before planting is time well spent.


Tree peonies like a slightly more alkaline soil than standard herbaceous peonies, and they do not want to compete with other shrubs.


Water


Peonies need moist, well-drained soil to thrive. Ideally, they should receive 1 to 2 inches of water weekly. They can thrive in relatively wet areas but are not drought-resistant. Mulch your peonies to help them retain water and lessen the likelihood of weeds.


Temperature and Humidity


Peonies prefer cooler areas (hardiness zones 3-8) and do best when they experience cold winters.


Fertilizer


Feed lightly. An annual application of compost mixed with a very small amount of fertilizer around the base of the plant is all that is needed. When you do feed with compost and fertilizer, do it just after the plants have finished blooming.


Don’t smother peonies with mulch in winter. In the first winter season, you can mulch loosely with pine needles or shredded bark, but mulch should be promptly removed in spring.


Tree peonies need iron and phosphate and do well with an annual feeding of sulfate and bone meal in spring. Unlike herbaceous peonies, they need regular feeding with a 5-10-5 fertilizer.


Harvesting


Keeping Peony Flowers in a Vase


Peonies make wonderful cut flowers, lasting more than a week in a vase. For best results, cut long stems in the morning when the buds are still fairly tight.


You can wrap freshly cut peony stems in damp paper towel and put them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. When removing the peonies from the refrigerator give the stems a fresh cut and place them in lukewarm water to wake them up.


Pruning and Propagating Peonies


Pruning


Peonies require little pruning. Once yours has finished blooming, cut back dead stems and branches. If a stem appears diseased, cut back before the affected part. If two branches rub against each other, remove the least desirable branch. When pruning peonies, always cut back to right above the first bud.


Propagating Peonies


Peonies are best propagated by lifting and dividing the root clump, then immediately replanting the divided pieces. A peony may require this after about 10 years when it begins to lose its vigor and becomes root-bound. Here, too, fall is the best time for this activity. Just before you plan to divide, cut the foliage of the peony back down to ground level.


Dig up the entire plant and remove as much soil as possible by soaking with a hose. Using your hands, manipulate the roots into dividable portions, each with 3-5 "eyes"—small reddish buds that resemble potato eyes—then use a sharp knife to cut the tuberous root-clump into divisions.


Cut away all the tiny roots on each division, leaving only the large, fleshy roots. Replant the divisions as soon as possible, following the instructions above.


Potting and Repotting Peonies


Peonies are typically purchased as potted plants in 1/2- or 1-gallon containers at the nursery or as bare roots, often packaged with peat moss or wood shavings in plastic bags. The peonies offered at plant society sales or plant swaps are very often the tuberous bare root varieties.


When choosing potted peonies, look for healthy specimens without leaf spots or weak-looking stems. When planting from bare tuberous roots, make sure the root clump has at least three to five eyes. These eyes will eventually elongate and become the plant's stems. A mature peony should be at least three to four years old before it is divided into bare roots. Tuberous clumps with only one or two eyes may still grow, but they will take longer to become established blooming plants.


If an established peony needs to be moved, transplanting should be done carefully to avoid disturbing the roots any more than necessary. These plants can thrive in the same spot for decades, but moving one hastily can bring about its demise. As with any planting, fall is the best time to move a peony.


At the new planting site, till up the soil 12-18 inches deep, and mix in a 4-inch layer of compost or peat moss. Water with 1-inch of water a day or two before transplanting. Your peony must be well hydrated before moving it.


Dig around the root ball of the peony using a sharp spade, getting as much soil as possible. Slide a tarp under the root ball to keep it intact, then lift the plant from the ground and carefully carry or slide it to the new location.


At the new location, dig a hole that is twice as wide as the peony's root ball, and exactly as deep as the root ball. Plant the peony at exactly the same depth as it was in its old location. Backfill around the plant. Tamp the soil down with your hands, but do not pack it too tightly. Water thoroughly. Add a 3-inch layer of compost or mulch around the base of the plant. This will keep the roots moist and cool while the plant is establishing in its new location.


Pests and Plant Diseases


Scale insects


Occasionally, peonies may become infested with scale insects. They can be seen on close examination. The most common symptom is that the leaves of the affected plant turn yellow and may drop. Scale insects may also cause reduced growth and stunted plants. In addition, scales carry viruses that can cause plant disease, even when present in small numbers. Some species of scale produce a shiny or sticky material (honeydew) that will cover the leaves of infested plants, thereby attracting ant species that feed this substance to their young.


Lookalikes: Spilled Sprite or 7-Up from last night's party


Thrips


Thrips are tiny insects that are difficult to see. They are generally most apparent on flowers, especially light-colored blooms, where they puncture (rasp) petals, causing considerable discoloration and disfiguration. Leaves may become bleached or silver, then wither. Heavy infestations will result in scorched-looking leaves and destroyed blossoms.


Lookalikes: Scorch


Bud-blast


Anything that stresses the plant could result in bud-blast, a condition where the peony flower buds fail to open. The causes for this condition include infertile soil, too-deep planting, immature plants, too much shade, drought, and cold weather injury frequently associated with late spring frosts.


Lookalikes: Botrytis blight (the flower buds become brown and papery, and gray mold characteristics are present)


Botrytis blight (also called gray mold)


Botrytis blight is the most common disease of garden peonies and is prevalent in damp, rainy seasons. Young shoots rot at ground level when they are 5 to 8 inches tall. Stems often have a water-soaked appearance. Leafy shoots wilt suddenly and topple. The rotted portion of the plant becomes covered with a soft brown or blackish mass of fungal spores. Just above ground level, the stalk becomes covered with gray mold, which sheds large numbers of spores. Small buds that are affected turn black and wither. Larger buds turn brown and fail to open. Open flowers are occasionally affected and may turn brown and develop a covering of gray mold.


Lookalikes: Blights (such as, phytophthora blight, which lacks the classic fuzzy, gray mold), leaf spots, bud blast.


Peony blotch (also called red spot or measles)


This fungal disease occurs in spring just before blooming and affects all above ground parts. Small, circular red or purplish spots first appear superficially on the upper surface of young leaves. Later they coalesce intolarge, glossy, irregular dark purple blotches, while the underside of the spots becomes a dull chestnut brown. Short reddish-brown streaks appear on the young stems and petioles. Eventually the whole plant may have purplish or brownish red spots.


Although not immediately lethal, repeated bouts for several years will affect plant vitality. It does not cause early leaf drop or stem dieback but causes the plant to be unsightly and lose its attractiveness as spots coalesce to form blighted areas.


Lookalikes: Botrytis blight (has fuzzy, gray mold)


Powdery mildew


Powdery mildew is a fungal disease producing a light gray or whitish powder on the surface of leaves, young stems, and flowers. Flowers may be deformed. The disease is considered more unsightly than harmful. Death of the plant is rare.


Other fungal spots, blights and blotches


Peonies can be affected by a variety of fungal leaf spots. Most fungal leaf spots cause only cosmetic damage or occur late in the season, thus do not warrant control. Leaf spots are typically tan to brown with distinct borders or delimited borders on leaves or flower parts. When the spots become numerous and begin to merge the disease is called a blight or blotch or less commonly, scorch. In most cases, fungal leaf spot diseases are not significant enough to warrant fungicide applications.


Lookalikes: Anthracnose diseases (many are also leaf spots) and scorch (symptoms are browning of leaf margins and/or yellowing or darkening of the areas between the main leaf veins)


Phytophthora blight


A fungus, Phytophthora cactorum, which lives in moist soils, causes phytophthora blight. Flooded and saturated soil conditions are especially conducive to the spread of phytophthora blight. Wounds are not required for infection. The stems around the soil-line may appear darkened and leathery; they may wilt and die. The plant can develop root and crown rot causing the entire plant to rot. The entire plant can be pulled up easily.


Lookalikes: Botrytis blight (has fuzzy, gray mold) and other rots and wilts


Southern blight (also called, crown rot or white mold)


Southern blight, a fungal disease, causes deterioration and rotting of the tissues at the crown of the plant causing the leaves to turn yellow, collapse, and die. Beginning in early summer, infected plants develop discolored, water-soaked stem lesions near the soil line. During periods of high humidity, coarse cottony webbing (mycelia) develops and fans out over the stem base and surrounding soil. Sclerotia, which resemble mustard seeds and vary from white to reddish tan to light brown in color, develop at the base of the plant. Enough sclerotia may form to create a crust on the soil. It can kill the entire plant. The problem generally requires removal of the diseased plant.


Lookalikes: Wilts, root rots


Other fungal rots and wilts


Peonies like good drainage and overly wet soil can result in rots or wilts. Typically, initial wilting will occur in warm weather, followed by partial recovery in the evening. The wilt will intensify and leaves yellow, often taking on a scorched appearance. Lower leaves are affected first and often, only one side of the plant will appear to be affected. The disease results in stunted growth and premature death of the plant.


Lookalikes: Scorch and drought or water stress


Uses


Culinary uses:


In China, the fallen petals of Paeonia lactiflora are parboiled and sweetened as a tea-time delicacy. Peony water, an infusion of peony petals, makes a refreshing drink, common since middle ages. The petals may be added to salads or to punches and lemonades. Its fresh top young leaves, same as for Camellia and rose plants, are excellent for making white tea.


Medicinal Properties of peony:


Peony root are diuretic, sedative, and tonic. the plant is known for its antispasmodic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects. Greeks used it to treat epilepsy and promote menstruation. European herbalists used the root as an antispasmodic and to soothe nerves. In Chinese medicine, White Peony was used to treat hypertension, chest pain, muscle cramping and spasms, as well as for a fever. Nowadays is still the most widely used herbs to treat menstrual cramps and menstrual irregularities.


Peony contains 18 active constituents responsible for inhibiting blood coagulation or platelet aggregation. The active constituents include paeoniflorin, catechin and paeonol. The anti-coagulant effect of peony supports healthy blood circulation, which prevents against certain cardiovascular diseases.


Peony root are assumed in the form of as a tea, extract, in capsules or tincture, which have calming proprieties and recommended for sleeplessness. For its preparation it is necessary to take 10 grams of rhizomes of a plant and drawn them in 100 ml of vodka. Have it filtered after 1 month and take up to 30 drops diluted with a small amount of water, three times a day.

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