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The Plant Guide

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Japanese forest peony

Paeonia obovata var. alba

pay-OH-nee-ah oh-bo-VAY-tah variety AL-bah Audio

This plant is a beautiful addition to the garden from early spring until autumn. Red shoots with a crystalline dusting emerge in early April, followed by 5-inch-long, egg-shaped leaves that mature to a dark, reddish green. Each 18-inch stem bears a 2-inch-wide, chalice-like, single pure-white flower with yellow anthers and purple filaments. Mature seedpods open to reveal metallic-blue pea-sized fertile seeds and holly-berry red unfertilized seeds.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsOften confused with P. japonica , which bears similar flowers but blooms later. Crown increases much slower than other herbaceous peonies.

CarePrefers fertile, humus-rich, moist (but not soggy) soil. Avoid contacting the fleshy spring shoots with inorganic fertilizer, which burns the tender leaves.

PropagationBest from seed, although slow. Plant only fresh fertilized seeds, which are metallic blue, in the autumn for good germination rates. Plants will bloom in the third or fourth year.

ProblemsBotrytis is an infrequent problem.

  • Genus : Paeonia
  • Plant Height : 1 to 3 feet
  • Plant Width : 1 to 3 feet
  • Zones : 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
  • Tolerance : Deer Tolerant
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Moisture : Medium Moisture
  • Plant Type : Perennials
  • Characteristics : Showy Foliage, Showy Fruit, Showy Seed Heads
  • Bloom Time : Spring
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Spring Interest
  • Flower Color : White
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