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Herbaceous Peonies
[From Peonies, by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, p. 14:] The familiar garden peonies of Europe and North America are herbaceous; their leaves wither and die in autumn and new shoots emerge from beneath the ground every spring.


[Ibid, p. 16:] Hybrids and cultivated varieties of both tree and herbaceous peonies have flowers ranging from single to very full double, but the wild species from which they are bred all have single flowers... Some of the most beautiful herbaceous peonies are to be found in China, including P. lactiflora, the parent of most garden hybrids and varieties...


[Ibid, p. 44:] Herbaceous peonies, not held in quite such high esteem [as Tree Peonies in China], were called Hua Liang, ' the king's ministers'... Shaoyao [is another name] which means 'medicinal herb plant' but can also mean both 'wealthy and honourable' and 'charming and beautiful'.


[Ibid, pp. 47-48:] Herbaceous peonies grew wild throughout northern and central China and their roots were used for medicine and in some areas as food... The root of the herbaceous peony is still used today in Traditional Chinese Medicine.


[According to Craigmore Peonies Partnership:] Herbaceous peonies are best grown in the southern half of New Zealand, as the plants require good winter chilling to set the flowers. They prefer a sunny situation, and rich, well-drained soil.


[From Peonies, by Allan Rogers, p. 3:] herbaceous peonies are usually propagated by division...



Unlike many other perennials, herbaceous peonies do not need to be divided every few years. They have a long life span. Although the blooming period is only about ten days to two weeks, it's possible to stretch the season for up to five weeks by selecting varieties that bloom early, mid-season and late. Pick a planting site carefully -- peonies don't like to be moved.
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