Peonies have been beloved blooms for centuries -- their full heads and lush layers of petals been cherished across oceans and cultures, symbolizing honor, prosperity, romance, and more. Peonies have regained popularity in the last few decades -- their old-world charm, boundless petals, and easy care and handling are just a few reason for this "Peony Renaissance."
History of Peonies:
Peonies are native to central and eastern Asia, and have long been traditional floral symbols of Eastern Culture, gaining the nickname “The King of Flowers." In 6th- and 7th-century China, peonies were cultivated for both ornamental and medicinal uses. They became especially popular during the 8th-century Tang Dynasty when they were grown in imperial gardens. By the 10th century, P. lactiflora was introduced to Japan, where many new varieties were developed. Although P. officinalis were grown in Europe from the 15th century onward, more extensive breeding began in the 19th century when P. lactiflora was introduced from China.
Peonies have particular tastes, and perform best in cooler climates, typically in USDA Hardiness zones 2-8, which is why most commercial peony farms in the United States are located in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and the Midwest. They usually sprout in early spring, though the exact timing depends upon location and cultivar. Once they start blooming (late April), they go quickly; in fact, it is their short blooming period (1-2 weeks) that makes them especially treasured. Peony enthusiasts and commercial growers have gotten around the limitations of a short blooming period by planting"early" and "late" season varieties. This way, peonies arrive bit by bit, and allow us to enjoy their fleeting beauty through spring and summer.