Itoh peonies

An Itoh or intersectional hybrid peony is a manual cross between a herbaceous and a tree peony. They are hardy temperate climate plants and need a period of frost to induce flowering the next spring. They are easy plants, and real survivors. With the hints and tips provided we hope we help you to grow even healthier and stronger peonies next season.

Soil

Peonies prefer a neutral soil pH. Their roots are like carrots; a waterlogged soil does not do them any good. Peonies grow in most soil types. Additional garden compost worked into sandy and heavy clay soil improves the structure and allows for a better water management and nutrition base.

Location

A peony can grow to a very old age, 50 years is no exception. Therefore it is important that the right location is selected from the start. Always provide sufficient space, 80cm to 100cm or more for larger growing varieties. Do not plant peonies under trees or shrubs. Competing for light, air, moisture and nutrition with established trees and shrubs is a very exhausting business. Provide plenty of sunlight and as important airflow. To grow into a strong and healthy plant it will need approximately 6 hours of sun, however full sun has preference.

Planting

Plant in sufficiently deep loosened soil, you will have to get the spade out. Peonies are greedy; mix extra horn shavings, bone meal and/or any other SLOW release fertilizer into the planting hole.  In light soils an addition of potash or Kalium fertiliser is appreciated. Don't let the roots touch the fertilizer. 

When planting lay the root on its longest side in the planting hole and do not plant the eyes any deeper than 4-5 cm under the soil level. In warmer areas it should be no less than 2-3 cm under soil level.

To give it a head start a bare root peony is best planted in autumn, so the plant has plenty of time to settle down and produce new roots.

Peonies in containers can be planted throughout the year. In extreme weather conditions it has preference to postpone planting.

Itoh planting

Aftercare

SPRING: Remove spent flowers.

SUMMER: Check regularly, especially the first year, if your plant has sufficient water during hot summer days. Water generously once or twice a week, instead of small quantities on a daily basis.

LATE AUTUMN: Cut of the top growth at 10cm before winter and remove it from your garden. It is possible that a few buds have formed already on the stems in autumn, however to get a nice and firm dome shaped bush it has preference to cut the stems back to 10cm above ground. The plant will sprout again from soil level in spring.

Give your peony once a year a regular dose of slow release fertiliser. 

Staking

Because of their tree peony parentage the stems of Itoh peonies are more ligneous than those of their herbaceous cousins, so Itoh peonies do not require any staking.

Diseases

Itoh peonies are sturdy hybrids and also less supsectible to fungal deseases. A fungus attack is mostly caused by Botrytis.  If your peony should show any sign of a fungus attack on the leaves, shoots or flowers, cut out the affected parts and remove them from your garden. Clean your cutting tools with 70% alcohol. Also pick up and remove all the fallen leaves. If you wish apply a fungicides, several are available in garden centres, always use as directed. However addressing the cause of the problem should be your first concern. Stuffy surroundings and bad water management are definite areas, which should be tackled first. 

Pests

Itoh peonies do not secrete the sticky substance herbaceous peonies produce around the flowerbuds and ants are therefor not attracted to the buds. Although ants are no pests. 

More

In our Facebook page we try to address different peony-related issues. In doubt, please feel free to use the contact form to pop your question. 

Happy planting, 

Graefswinning