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Paeoniaceae

Paeonia

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Paeonia lactiflora 'Kansas'

Plants in the genus Paeonia are clump-forming perennials and deciduous shrubs or subshrubs grown for their large, colorful, and sometimes fragrant flowers. Blooms are usually upright and solitary, sometimes several to a stem. Use in mixed, herbaceous, or shrub borders. Herbaceous cultivars bloom in late spring and early summer. Tree peonies bloom in mid-spring and late spring.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsPeonies have a wide distribution in meadows, scrub, and rocky places of East Asia to Europe, and in western North America. They sometimes have showy, red- or black-seeded pod-like fruits. Flowers are saucer-, cup-, or bowl-shaped, varying widely in color and size (from 2 and up to 12 inches across), and can be single, semi-double, double, and Japanese. All parts are toxic.

CareDeep, fertile, humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil. Full sun or part shade. Large cultivars may need support.

PropagationDivide herbaceous cultivars in early autumn and replant, placing the new growths 2 inches below the surface; take root cuttings in winter. Take semi-ripe cuttings of tree peonies in summer or graft in winter.

ProblemsProne to ringspot virus, Verticillium wilt, Botrytis blight, tip blight, leaf blotch, stem rot, Japanese beetles, and nematodes.

Species and cultivars

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