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Peonies: a Spring Tradition

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Peonies: a Spring Tradition

The peony (Paeonia) has been and still is a garden favorite for a number of reasons including its good winter hardiness, large, beautiful and often fragrant flowers and great looking foliage when not in bloom.

As a kid, I always remember my mom cutting some of the flowers and bringing them into the house sometime between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. As I recall, along with Iris, it was one of the few perennials at our farm house.

Here at the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG), you’ll find both the perennial herbaceous peony and the deciduous shrub tree peony in the MBG peony collection.

May is a good time to view many of them in bloom, and some of the best places here at MBG are in the Japanese Garden and in the Kemper Center Apple Allee. You can also find out lots of information on specific plants by following this link to our Plant Finder page of the Paeonia.

The herbaceous peonies are relatively easy to grow, are long lived and can be left undisturbed for many years of beauty and enjoyment.

Tree peonies enjoy the same reliability as the herbaceous ones, but as a deciduous shrub, their stems do not die down to the ground in the late fall/winter. They generally provide larger, more showy flowers that the herbaceous varieties.

Peonies have few insect or disease problems but our Visual Guide on Peony Problems will help you identify any problems you may have.

Ants on peony buds are a common occurrence and should be left alone. They are just enjoying the sweet nectar produced by the flower buds, do no harm and will disappear once the flowers have opened.

Why not consider a peony for your landscape? Visit us while they are still in bloom to help you decide which one might be the one for you.

While visiting, stop in at the Kemper Center for Home Gardening and ask your questions at the Plant Doctor Desk (Monday-Saturday 10-3). Additionally, you can get your gardening questions answered by calling the Horticultural Answering Service at 314-577-5143 (Monday-Friday 9-Noon) and/or by using this website.

Enjoy the beauty of peonies and spring!

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