An old fashioned favorite that really shines in the spring is the Peony. These perennials are very long lived (often living for over 100 years!) which makes them popular heirloom plants. I personally have about seven different varieties that were inherited from my grandmother. They are very easy to care for as long as a few things are kept in mind.
Peonies prefer full sun to bloom their best. They will however tolerate a few hours of shade per day, especially in the hot afternoon. They prefer well drained soil, as soil kept too wet will encourage rot.
They make excellent, fragrant cut flowers that will last up to a week in your home!
As they fill out they will require some staking or peony rings for support. These rings can be found at your local garden center or hardware store. In the fall when the plants are cut down to the ground, remove the rings and store for next season.
Peonies prefer to be planted, or transplanted, in the fall. Do this approximately 6 weeks before the ground freezes. To plant dig a hole approximately 2′ x 2′. Fill the hole with loose soil amended with 1/3 compost. Place the roots approximately 2” deep and cover with a light layer of soil. Pack very lightly. Thats it!
No additional fertilizing is required as Peonies often thrive on neglect! Good news right?! That is why they often grow for years without any care at all.
Peonies are generally deer resistant. Both their foliage and flowers do not attract deer. They may however attract ants. The sap their buds produce is high in sugar which attracts the ants. The ants however are helpful! They “protect their territory” and often scare off other insects that might otherwise be a problem. Because of their relationship with ants I recommend you plant them in a garden or mixed hedge rather than against a foundation.