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Herbaceous peony an outstanding perennial for Dunedin

This article was first published on 23 Oct 2020.

Paeonia officinalis

Paeonia officinalis

Photo by the Otago Daily Times

One of the many benefits of living in low temperatures is the ability to grow cool climate plants. Peonies need a cold enough temperature to enable dormancy for about 60 days. Thank you, Dunedin. There is a multitude of factors that make the peony one of our most outstanding cold hardy perennials.

  1. The blooms – Elegance, open form and satiny texture in tints of white, pink and red. In several species the splitting fruits are highly ornamental.
  2. Landscaping and cut flowers – Striking impact as a mass planting or a single plant. They make ideal cut flowers, with lasting quality and strong stems.
  3. Foliage – Fresh and lush from spring to summer and with coppery tints in autumn
  4. Culture and permanence – Easy to care for and rarely need lifting or dividing. This allows the food storage tubers to grow to their potential.
  5. Health – Largely free of pests and disease problems when well looked after.
  6. Hardiness – Thriving in severe climates, enduring cold winters and hot summers

Greek mythology refers to Paeonia. Paion, physician to the Greek Gods, used the plant to cure Pluto of serious injuries incurred during the Trojan war. Pluto, in gratitude, saved his physician from the fate of a mere mortal by changing him into the plant that had been used in his cure.

Mere mortals can view flowering peonies, from now into early summer, thriving in the lower botanic garden camellia collection, herbaceous borders and upper garden too.

Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden.