12 Surprising Facts All Peony Enthusiasts Should Know

Peony Facts Tout

Regarded by many as true royalty among garden plants, peonies feature blossoms that can take your breath away. Peony (which is sometimes also spelled as paeony) is an exceptional plant, as the only genus to belong to the family Paeoniaceae. Native to Asia, Europe, and Western North America, the number of peony species could be as many as 40, but for now, scientists have only reached a consensus on about 33 peony species. So, there is definitely more to be learned about this plant.

Though they are short-lived, usually blooming for only seven to 10 days, they have become popular garden plants in temperate regions. In the late spring and early summer, they are also often sold as cut flowers. The love for peonies is undeniable. But growing peonies requires more than just a penchant for their vibrant color and sweet scent. From planting peonies to peony care, there are plenty of floral facts you should know before peony season comes around.

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Peonies make the best bouquets

Peony Facts Bouquets
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In addition to their fresh, fragrant scent, peonies also have huge blooms that can open up to 10 inches wide. Just make sure you clip the buds early in the morning before they open into blooms.

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Particularly, wedding bouquets

Peony Facts Wedding Bouquets
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Peonies are often regarded as the symbol of good fortune and a happy marriage. So, fill up your bouquets and flower arrangements, stat.

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Peonies initially were grown for medicinal purposes

Peony Facts Medicinal
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These blooms hail from China and Europe, where they were often used to treat various ailments—from headaches to things like asthma and childbirth pain.

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Peony petals are edible

Peony Facts edible
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In China, the petals are parboiled and sweetened for use as a tea-time delicacy, in summer salads, or as garnish for delicious punches and lemonades.

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You can grow peonies in the South

Peony Facts grow in South
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Peonies can and do flourish in areas with long, cold winters, but this fact does not mean that they can only grow in Northern states where winters tend to be longer and colder than in the South. While peonies perform best in the Upper and Middle Southern states, some peonies are able to tolerate milder, shorter winters. The blooms have been spotted as far south as Jackson, Mississippi and Montgomery, Alabama.

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One type of peony is especially suited for the Southern climates

Peony Facts tree peonies
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There are a few different types of peonies. However, only one of these types is best suited for the lower Southern climate. Herbaceous peonies die to the ground each winter and grow brand-new stalks in the spring. These herbaceous varieties of peonies require more than 400 hours of near-freezing temperatures, which are hard to come by in places where the winters tend to be more mild. Tree peonies, on the other hand—identifiable by their sturdy trunks—only need between 100 and 300 hours of chill time each year. This makes tree peonies more suitable for and most likely to thrive in the deep South.

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Perfect peonies require perfect planting

Peony Facts planting peonies
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While herbaceous peonies require fall planting, tree peonies may be planted in the fall or the spring. We recommend that you refer to the Southern Living Plant Encyclopedia for complete information on growing peonies.

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Peonies attract ants

Peony Facts ants
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But don't worry. This is more of a blessing than a curse because ants actually play an important role in helping the peonies bloom. The insects happen to be attracted to the sweet nectar found inside peony buds; when they climb inside the buds, they help them open. Plus, ants help keep other (damaging) insects away.

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Peonies can outlive people

Peonies Border in Garden
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When properly cared for and kept in optimal conditions, a peony plant can live a long life. It can even stay around to be over 100 years old.

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Growing peonies requires patience

Peony Facts patience
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Just like Rome wasn't built in a day, these beautiful flowers take a few years before they bloom. Herbaceous peonies don't usually bloom the first year they're planted. Unfortunately, tree peonies take two or three years longer to flower. So, just be patient.

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When clipping peony blossoms, cut sparingly

Peony Facts clipping blossoms
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It's easy to get carried away with these gorgeous blooms, but when you cut them, make sure that you leave at least three buds behind on every stem that you cut. Don't remove more than half of the blooms from any clump, as this will critically damage food reserves.

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Peonies bloom in every color

Peony Facts bloom in every color
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Except for blue (sorry, Tarheels fans).

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