When the first huge peony unfurls into a flounce of petals, you want to touch it, and live somewhere inside that magnificent bloom. The perfume, lifted by late-spring air, can’t be inhaled deeply enough. Of all those gorgeous garden flowers, you hope your peonies will last forever. Such giddiness is a springtime ritual in the Upper South. There, peonies become large, shrubby plants festooned with flowers. Divided and passed along for generations, peonies are a long-lived legacy. But move them to the warmer Middle and Lower South, and they’re a challenge.
Peonies need cold winter weather to flourish, and without sufficient cooling, few flowerbuds are produced. Here’s how to grow your best peonies that can weather the weather.