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History, Planting and Care

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Paeonia suffruticosa

 

History


Peony is an old garden perennial. Like many other old perennials e.g. Iris and Hosta they are again becoming popular. Peony has its name from a Greek God “Paeon” who had healing powers and the Peony has previously been an important drug. Pieces of crushed roots were put into wine and used against menstrual pain, dysentery, hysteria and epilepsy. The seeds were put on string and hung around the necks of children to guarantee them against epilepsy and toothache. It has also been used in witchcraft, where amulets were made of the root. It was supposed to have the same strong effects as the rare and precious mandrake root; giving the owner power and strength in love. There are a lot of histories associated with this plant, one of the more amusing ones is, that it is best to dig a peony up at night time, the reason being that if a woodpecker saw you digging it up, it would attack and hacking one's eyes out. But I having dug up many Peonies at daylight without being attacked by a woodpecker, I dare say that there is nothing to this story.

Planting and Care

 
There are different meanings about moving a peony, one being that they don’t like to be dug up and moved if they have been growing in the same place for several years. In my opinion they are not damaged by being moved, but, and this is very important; do not plant them deeper in the soil than they were before digging them up. Peony grows well in a good garden soil and they don’t need much care. The plant hole must be big; around 50 cm. deep. It is a good idea to mix the existing soil with one or two spades full of old farm manure, along with a few hands full of chalk. It is very important that the roots do not have direct contact with the fertilizer. When using this mix it is not necessary to fertilize them the next several years. If you have a sandy soil, where nutrients are rapidly out of the soil, you can give them a little fertilizer, but very gently because the fertilizer can burn the plants roots. But it is important to give them a little chalk each spring. I remove old leaves in the autumn because they are infected with fungus, which can infect the new shoots in spring.