Peonies have fragrant and large flowers. They are common in wedding bouquets since it is a symbol of good fortune and a happy married life. The color of the flower may vary depending on the variety that you will plant, but in most cases, the blooms will be red or white. They are actually available in almost any color, except blue. Although it is most popular for its decorative flowers, they are also edible. In some cases, they are also used for scent tea. The roots, meanwhile, have more than 2,000 years of history of use in alternative medicine, especially because of its sedative and anti-spasmodic properties.
There are 30 species of peonies that are available. While most of them are herbaceous perennials, there is also a woody shrub. One of the most popular varieties is the Chinese peony, which has double flowers in white, pink, or red. Japanese peonies, on the other hand, are popular because of having contrasting colors. If you want not only pretty flowers, but an attractive foliage as well, the fern-leaf peony is a good pick.
Planting and Growing Conditions
When planting peonies, do not bother to propagate from seeds, especially if you are an impatient gardener. Instead, start off with a healthy plant, either one from your outdoor garden or from a local nursery.
First, pick the right pot for your plant. The diameter should be at least one foot and the depth should be up to two feet. You can choose a pot made from any material, but make sure that there are holes, which will allow water to pass through.
Fill 2/3 of the pot with your choice of soil. Your potting mix should be moist and pH neutral. Place the tuber on the top and cover it with soil. Also, add compost or organic matter to make the soil richer. See to it that the bulb is standing straight on the top of the soil. Water it and press firmly.
After planting peony, the next thing that you must do is to choose the best location within the household. Take note that the external environment will assume a critical role in the overall development of the plant. Place it by the window that you can leave open in the day, making sure that the plant will receive plenty of sunlight but not direct heat. Ideally, peonies must have six hours of sun in a day.
You might also want to consider using grow light, which will supplement the light that peony requires. In this case, make sure that the light is at the right height, which should be about six inches from the top of the plant. Turn on the lights early in the morning and leave it on for up to 12 hours.
Lastly, water is another important element when it comes to the growing conditions for the plant. Water only the soil, making sure that it has the necessary moisture. It is also best to water early in the morning, which means that the sun will be able to dry it out. If the soil or the foliage remains wet through the night, there is a higher likelihood that diseases will emanate.
Pests and Diseases
Among others, botrytis blight is one of the most common diseases in peonies, which is common during the rainy season or in damp environments. Powdery mildew, phytophthora blight, and fungal spots are other common problems that can affect the appearance and overall health of peonies. With regards to pest infestation, on the other hand, some that can give you a headache include foliar nematodes and mealybugs.
Care and Maintenance
As a novice gardener, the following are some useful tips that will help to avoid frustration:
- To maintain the health and vigor of the plant, do not forget to fertilize. Start fertilizing once you notice the appearance of a new stem. It is best to use low-nitrogen fertilizer. Ideally, you need to fertilize only once in a year, which should be before spring.
- Peonies have a resting period dormancy. When such time comes, do not panic. It is not yet the end of your plant. You just need to give it time to rest and recover. This should last for at least two to three months. At such point, water less frequently. Also, shorten the hours of sunlight that the plant receives.
- While it is rare for the plant to suffer from infections and diseases, when a problem is apparent, act as soon as possible. Prune or manually remove leaves that are showing signs of infestation. Do this before the problem spreads to the healthier parts of the plant. When the blossom begins to fade, deadhead it.
- In some instances, the blooms are too large and heavy, making it hard for the stem to support them. In this case, consider using support or stakes to allow the stem to stand still.
- The application of lime sulfur and copper fungicide will also help to maintain the peony in its best condition, especially for the prevention of common fungal infections.
- Good air circulation is also necessary for peonies. Indoors, make sure that the space is not crowded with other plants. Provide peonies with a space to breathe.
With the right cultivar of choice, it will be easy for peonies to grow indoors, despite the fact that they are traditional outdoor plants. Given the right external environment, such a light, water, soil, and temperature, among others, it will not take long before your peonies will bloom.