Today's guest blogger is Anne Furlong, an intern in the IMA's Horticulture Department.
The Peony. Not only is it the state flower of Indiana, but these herbaceous perennials are also in bloom all around the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Paeonia lactiflora, also known as the Chinese peony or the common garden peony, flowers in late spring, usually during the month of May.
These large, fragrant blossoms come in a variety of colors ranging from red to yellow, white, cream, pastel pink and even deep fuchsia. They grow to be 2 ½ to 3 ½ feet tall and wide and require full sun to part shade. The flowers can be anywhere from 3 to 6 inches wide. Peonies thrive in rich, fertile, slightly acidic soils. They also do best in well-drained, moist soil.
Peonies not only have showy flowers, but also lush green foliage that will last all the way up until frost when the plants will die back to the ground. The larger tree peony, Paeonia suffruticosa, is a woody shrub and will last throughout the winter. These tree peonies also have larger flowers than the common garden peony.
Ants are a common problem with peonies. These bugs are not necessary for pollination or any processes having to do with flower development. The ants are simply attracted to the sugary sap that seeps from the peony buds. They are not harmful to the peonies at all but can sometimes be a nuisance. The ants will eventually leave on their own but to keep ants off peonies you can apply an insecticide or plant peonies along with ant repellant plants such as geraniums or mint. You can also dip cut peonies into water to remove the resin and keep ants off your cut peony blooms.
On the grounds these beauties can be found in the border gardens, around the greenhouse, the formal garden, and in the orchard. The peony is an attractive fragrant flower blooming just in time for Memorial Day, use them to decorate for your festivities or simply plant one around your house for a pop of color come May.
Filed under: Horticulture