Itoh Hybrid peony flower forms are distinctly tree peony in character, also the foliage. However, most of them will flower after that of the woody peonies. Some, especially the long-flowering Garden Treasure, continue to open buds with the latest of the commonly grown peonies here. Thus, with the addition of Itoh Hybrids in a tree peony collection, one might enjoy the tree peony flower forms nearly the entire peony flowering calendar.
All items in this group are 'Best Landscapers'. Superb in the viewed landscape, either massed or as focal points, Itoh Hybrids renew from below ground each season and, like other herbaceous peonies, mature plants contribute the same height year after year. The best of them have great hybrid vigor, are very winter hardy and perform at their best when properly planted in deep, fertile somewhat heavy soil, that is provided with adequate moisture. Itoh Hybrids have commanded a great deal of interest among gardeners, their availability is building positively. (Garden Treasure pictured)
Early Herbaceous peonies make deciduous stems (die to the ground at the end of the growing season) and grow back from below ground buds each spring. The term hybrid denotes those sorts having two or more of the botanical species in their ancestry.
Many of the cultivars we list in the "Early" group feature pastel flower colors, a legacy of the Mloko species (Paeonia mlokosewitchi). These often have a colorful flare at each petal base and highlights of red, red-purple or pink at the center, especially appealing in floral design. The flowers are little affected by rainfall, while affording a lasting accent in the cool temperatures of early spring. Vigor and excellent performance are characteristic. Bush size ranges from short to tall, sometimes spreading, sometimes very erect, often with large leaflets which hold up well throughout the growing season the legacy of big-leaf peony ancestry (P. macrophylla). Others have notably slender leaflets, almost always from P. tenuifolia ancestry, the fern leaf peony. All of the items below can be considered good landscapers within the noted cautions. Some will be tagged Best Landscaper. (Early Glow pictured)
Most of the cultivars in Mid-Season Herbaceous peony group result from crossing forms of Paeonia officinalis, P. peregrina (lobata), or sometimes those species' close kin, with the later flowering, more commonly grown peonies (of the Lactiflora Group). The hybrid progeny flowers are especially colorful, either rich, brilliant reds?sometimes intensely pigmented, often ranging to near scarlet or soft pinks, peachy or orangey toned, some characterized as coral or salmon, which do not fade purplish, their colors remaining attractive to the end. In this group there is a fair selection of good bomb doubles, semi-doubles and a few full doubles.
Mid-season Herbaceous plants are generally very suitable for landscaping. The bush habit of most is well constituted for flowering in the viewed landscape without mechanical support. However, under water-stress climate conditions some in this group will die off in mid-summer. Under high temperature and drought, some plants shut down, a survival adaptation from their natural species ancestors, such plants sometimes said to be "summer deciduous". High shade, windscreen and judicious supplemental watering may delay the onset. Suitable placement of companion plants will help offset associated loss of greenery. Some will be tagged 'Best Landscaper'. (Command Performance pictured)
The Lactiflora Group peonies, traditional and most commonly grown peonies in North America. Ancestors of the currently large collection of cultivated sorts were first imported to Europe from China about 200 years ago. By then their history could be measured in centuries.
These cultivars offer flowering from midseason to very late, on the scale described elsewhere in this pamphlet. With a few exceptions, they made up the collection of sorts known at the time the American Peony Society was formed in 1903. Among them are the peonies known from old farmsteads and cemeteries?one cemetery collection I have known continued to give a spectacular display after at least 65 years, no further plantings had been allowed from 1932.
All of these peonies are satisfactory for cut flowers, we comment especially on their habit for flowering in the landscape. They characteristically have side-buds, which may be removed to produce flowers one per stem or left on to extend flowering in the garden. At individual descriptions we intend to alert you to the need for support in the viewed landscape on those sorts likely to collapse when opened flowers are subjected to spring rain and winds. These sorts make some of the best-loved flowers and will always be wanted. However, for an easier care landscape, one might consider planting them away from the public area and the most viewed private portion of the landscape, as a cutting garden. Alternatively, plan for the extra grooming associated with mechanical supports. Some will be tagged 'Best Landscaper'. (Stellar Charm pictured)