Herbaceous and shrubby peonies
There are basically two large groups of peonies: herbaceous and shrubby. The main characteristic of the herbaceous varieties is that of having the aerial part that dies during the winter; the spring shoots start directly from the collar of the roots, a few centimeters underground.
The fleshy roots, which represent the storage tank of the reserve substances, allow the plant to overcome the cold season without damage; the peonies herbaceous emit an herbaceous stem every year, which bears the leaves, and on its top, the floral buttons.
The head of this peony, like all perennial herbaceous plants, grows horizontally, remaining however over the years always of the same height.
The type of growth is different peonies shrubs, also called arboreal or woody, which produce real woody branches, on which jets bearing leaves and flowers sprout in spring. Shrub varieties therefore tend to grow in height and width like all bushes, reaching in some cases considerable dimensions of 2 meters in height and diameter.
The cultivation of these flowers does not require particular skills, being rather rustic flowers that are well suited to even the coldest temperatures.
The different growth habits condition its ornamental use and in the gardens and the cultivation, in fact, the herbaceous (varieties of Paeonia lactiflora, Paeonia officinalis and herbaceous hybrids) are more used to decorate flowerbeds or borders and in any case, due to longer stem, they are more valid as cut flowers.
The arboreee (varieties of Paeonia suffruticosa and hybrids of Paeonia lutea) on the other hand, with a magnificent effect even without flowers thanks to the light foliage and the oriental appearance, are better as isolated plants, or to create hedges and curtains in the background.
Peonies are plants of great adaptability, not particularly difficult to cultivate, they withstand even the coldest winters well and live in almost all soils, with preference for those that are not too light and alkaline.
The diffusion of peonies in Italian gardens is still relatively limited and only a few years ago, thanks to the work of a small group of passionate gardeners and nurserymen, they have begun to appreciate their great decorative effect both as isolated plants and as hedge plants or border.
Flowering, which takes place from mid-April to late June depending on the variety, represents one of the greatest satisfactions not only for the beginner but also for the expert gardener.