Peonies are similar to roses and are popular for their fragrance and array of colours in shades of white, pink and red. They are also easy to grow, particularly in hot areas with full sun. The peony plant was originally grown for its roots, seeds and leaves, which were used to treat a variety of illnesses. Today, the rarest peonies are typically those derived from intersectional crosses among subtypes.
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Itoh Hybrid Peony
The Itoh hybrid peony is the offspring of herbaceous and tree peonies, incorporating the growth habit of herbaceous peonies and the foliage and flowers of tree peonies. These flowers appear in shades of orange, yellow, purple, coral and peach. Available types of this species include the Copper Kettle in orange and the Garden Treasure, which is a yellow, semi-double flower (two or three whorls of petals). The Itoh hybrid peony is considered rare and expensive because it is an intersectional species developed by hybridisers. As popularity of the species increases, the peony will become more readily available.
The Fernleaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia) is native to southeastern Europe, including Romania, Yugoslavia, the Crimea, southeastern Russia, Bulgaria and the Caucasus region. It is found on dry stony hillsides, dry grassland and occasionally on limestone or in shrubs. The Fernleaf peony is easy to grow because it is seldom bothered by pests and diseases. Flowers on the plant are typically a deep red colour with a cluster of yellow in the centre. Rare Fernleaf peonies include a white-flowered form and a pink-flowered form. These colours may be found in the subspecies Paeonia tenuifolia biebersteiniana, which is found in the northern Caucasus and consists of finer leaves and coarser foliage.
Tree Peony Kinkaku
The tree peony Kinkaku is a rare Japanese plant with orange-yellow petals that grow up to 8 inches across. These double-form blossoms (with huge, ruffled, numerous petals) also feature hints of reddish yellow colour on the edges. The tree peony stands up to 5 feet tall and can produce more than 100 flowers. Tree peonies are woody plants that bloom for approximately two to three weeks in the summer and live through the winter.
Japanese tree peonies are native to China. In ancient times, only the emperor could own these plants. They are more open and delicate, with fewer double flowers than Chinese tree peonies.
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