I must apologize to all of you who contacted me by mail or comment on my peonies posts and asked me how to grow them. I am very late to answer all of your questions and I am going to redeem myself (I hope so!) by creating this post about peony cultivation. They are expensive plants but worth one's price.
Well, as I said in one of my previous posts, the soil in my garden is almost ideal to grow peonies and they really thrive there. The soil is loamy, with neutral pH.
Most peonies prefer colder climate, love the full sun but will also grow well in a dappled shade. In fact, in warmer climates with hot summer days, the spot with afternoon shade would be the best.
I use to plant the peonies in autumn. I buy bare root plants and plant them about 5 cm deep into the soil. I mix the soil with compost, cover the root, water well and that is about all. You have to water them regularly if there is no rain for a long period, but good drainage is essential.
Feed them with general fertilizer. You can mulch the ground around them to preserve the moisture.
'Dr. Alexander Flemming'
One of the minuses in growing peonies is the fact that the stems may not be strong enough to support the large, heavy flowers and they need staking.
The foliage of herbaceous peonies should be cut to the ground in autumn to prevent diseases. I only recently noticed the peony wilt (Botrytis) on some of the bushes and, I need to remove all infected leaves and burn them to prevent airborne spores to spread. I am not sure if there is any chemical control available to gardeners. This extremely wet weather we have had recently certainly helped developing diseases like that. To my great sorrow, one of my favourite white flowering bushes, 'Festiva Maxima', is infected by this disease.
The nursery where I buy my peonies have new ITOH-hybrids in offer. These are inter-sectional peonies, the hybrids between herbaceous and tree peonies. They have stronger stems so staking won't be needed. The flowers are large and numerous. I have already made a reservation to one of them; it is called 'Canary Brillants'.
ITOH hybrid, 'Canary Brillants' from Decora nursery.
PS. I have lost the links to many good gardening blogs since 'Blotanical' is no more. Has anyone a web address to a blog by a Japanese man growing the garden on his balcony in Tokyo? I forgot the name of his blog.