Flower of the Week!
The Peony

There are two things in life that instantly make me happy.

The first is filling my car up with gas.  Not because I love filling my car up with gas. I hate filling my car up with gas.  As far as life’s little pleasure’s go, it’s right up there with the family pet’s wretched breath waking you up in the morning.  No, filling my car up with gas makes me happy because I know once I drive out of the gas station I have another 500 kilometres to go before I’ll have to do it again.

The second thing that makes me happy is when my Peony bush blooms.  No that is not a euphemism.

A rose by any other name is a Peony.  Of all the women I know 90% of them would name the Peony as their favourite flower.   I’m completely making that statistic up, but it’s somewhere around true.  It’s political true, as opposed to hand over heart true.

You can create a beautiful arrangement with a single Peony.  Can’t say that about a rose.  Yes, a single rose is … well … cute.  But it’s no Peony.

If you have 2 or 3 Peonies, the simple beauty of them is almost breathtaking.  Which gives Peonies another leg up if what they happen to take the breath away from is your family pet.  Not alllll the breath.  Just the bad breath.

Our cat let out some sort of gassy substance on the couch this morning.  We didn’t know if it was a toot or her breath.  When you can’t discern if the smell is coming out of the bum or the mouth, you know your pet has a breath problem.

Back to the Peony!  After a year of waiting and a pretty miserable, cold spring my Peony bush has finally bloomed, which means I can finally cut a few flowers and bring them inside.



It’s only been in the past couple of years that I’ve felt like my Peony bush was big enough to cut from.  When you only have 3 flowers, it’s kind of hard to whack one off and bring it inside.  That’s the thing about Peony’s.  They aren’t what you’d call robust for the first few years.  In fact they’re downright touchy.  The success you have when planting your Peony bush largely depends on how deep you plant it.  They don’t like to be moved.  They like to stay put.  They’re like the Waltons.

So when you plant them, make sure you put them exactly where you want them.  Once they’re in, they’re in.  There’s no moving them around.  Not if you want them to flourish.

Also, if you’re planting a potted Peony, make sure when you plant them, the soil line is exactly level.    If you plant them too deep with the soil line from the pot lower than the soil line in the garden it could take years for the Peony to bloom for you.  See?  I told you.  Touchy.  It’s not surprising though.  Most beautiful things don’t like to be disturbed.   Case in point, Naomi Campbell.    If you disturb Naomi Campbell she’ll even take a swing at you.



The only thing you have to be mindful of with Peonies and bringing them indoors is their hitchhikers. Just tap the flowers while upside down a few times and you should be O.K.  The flowers have to be upside down. Not you.  Although that would work as well  I suppose.


If you’re thinking of planting a Peony bush, your best bet is to plant them in the fall.  Not when they’re blooming and looking all pretty in the garden centres in the spring.  Planting in the fall gives the Peony the chance to develop a good root system, resulting in a faster blooming plant.

If you already have a Peony bush you can split it in the fall.  Just make sure you don’t disturb the roots too much and don’t change the soil level.  The splits, should have at least 3 or 4 shoots coming from it, and remember to plant them at the exact right soil level to keep it happy.  You don’t want it throwing a cell phone at your head out of anger.

When planted correctly a Peony bush can live for a century.    That’s 100 years of  this …


… and in the evenings … this.

Every night when I walk through my dining room into the kitchen to get whatever snack it is I’m looking for I smile at the sight of my Peonies.  And not just an inside my head smile.  An actual smile.

This smile usually lasts exactly until my  cat breathes on me.


  1. Bridget says:

    Peonies were my grandmothers favorite flower. She left us almost 15 years ago. When we finished building our home earlier this year the very first flowers I planted were peonies. I planted three double supremes in red, white, and pink as well as a sorbet. I’m currently working on a weed garden…err cutting garden.

    Guide to Smart Shopping

  2. SamiJ says:

    Give your cat some greens. You can grow catgrass in a regular plastic container. And try giving her some lettuce (my cat prefers boston bibb).

  3. Wanda says:

    I also love peonies! I have 9 plants that have been in about 15 years. The last 2 years we have had incredibly cold weather for Texas and the resulting blooms have been gorgeous! Up to 90 blooms!

    In years when it is not so cold I try to make the roots think it is cold by dumping ice on the ground once a week. I don’t know if it helps, but makes me feel good!

    • Karen says:

      Wanda – Hah hah! Well that’s innovative thinking isn’t it? Tomorrow’s post is about being innovative with plants and such. You’ve got that area covered apparently. :) ~ karen

  4. HeatherB says:

    Hi, I have enjoyed dropping by. I just wanted to say that I have in the course of 4 years managed to make 8 fair sized blooming peony bushes out of one weeded choked and sad one. I guess I didn’t know you have to be careful of the soil level but I have just split them ( after the blooms die) and replant.Love the peonies…..PS I believe the ant thing buds almost open won’t bloom inside for me.

  5. Linda says:

    I’m with you on the full tank of gas feeling. Same feeling but better when you get a PAP…knowing you don’t have to get another for another year is the BEST!

  6. Hollie @ I'm Busy Procrastinating says:

    Peonies remind me of my grandmother. Since I haven’t planted any bushes myself, I should go over to her house and swipe some flowers. Because they’ve been growing at her house for eons. Oh, and I appreciate that you share with us the biological things that your cat does. We have 4 cats, and they are always puking up a hairball or their very expensive food, and they are the reason I don’t have many upholstered horizontal surfaces.

  7. Renee says:

    Saturday 4:45 a.m. (don’t ask) location: rainy Seattle. Check: 5 Peony bushes still not in full bloom. Hello buds…..WAITING!

  8. I completely agree with you about peoniess! I plan to plant some this fall, now that I know that’s the best time…Thanks!

  9. Mary says:

    Check out my peonies…and the little trick for prolonging blooms in the refrigerator….We used them as the only flowers for our daughters wedding…including her bouquet! Here’s to PEONY POWER!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for the Peony pics Mary … I’m going to have to tell one of my sisters about the “Coral Charm” strand. She was looking for exactly that colour last year! Thx. ~ karen

  10. Kristen says:

    So hi, I found you via CentsationalGirl and now I plan to stalk you. You’re funny. And not funny lookin funny but haha funny. I really laughed at stuff you wrote not just the oh that made me kinda smile inside so I’ll type lol but the I snickered (I snickered quietly because my son and husband are asleep but I snickered just the same.) So thanks. I look forward to more of your stuffs!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Kristen! Thanks for coming over to take a look, thanks for snickering and thanks for commenting on it. Overall … thanks. ~ karen!

  11. Sarah says:

    This post made me smile! I absolutely ADORE peonies! I don’t have a garden of my own yet, but when I do, bushes and bushes of them will be planted- mostly in the light blush pinks and cloud whites. In the meantime, I am draining my bank account at he farmer’s market on Saturday’s and the one by my office on wednesdays. So I sit and stare at my pretty, pretty peonies on my desk at work all day, and dream of having my own to cut!

  12. Count me in with your made up statistics ! But those dratted ants drive me nuts when I want to smell my peomies, for fear I deeply inhale and get a few free ants up my nose, hahaha- aaarggh!
    Sadly here in the UK we have had nothing but rain so I could take no pictures and now the peony show is over :( ..till next year.
    I had some deep dark red ones in the cottage I lived in before and every year it was the same: start:leaves- then : pingpong size buds.. of course great excitement.. Wimbledon season.. the required and to be expected torrential rain.. and … huge flowerheads all drooping and falling over in the mud…soo annoying….

  13. Sara says:

    I’ve never lived where winters make me wish for spring. Is that why I’ve never lived where the peonies grow? Do they need a hard winter? Maybe the lack of peonies in my life is why I hardly notice flowers at all. The blooms on a yucca plant are hardly worth a second glance.

    • Karen says:

      Sara – I didn’t know this, but apparently Peonies won’t grow in a zone 9 or higher. They need the period of dormancy brought on by the cold weather. You could always buy some fake ones and wire them onto the yucca plant. That’s an option. I’m always coming up with good ideas, aren’t I? ~ karen

      • Sara says:

        You DO have great ideas! :) And actually, I lied, because we do have one yucca (I think, but I cannot find name of it with a picture online to be sure) that actually IS worth a double take. The bottom leaves look like the hair of Medusa and during the summer it grows a few stalks about twenty feet tall covered in yellow flowers. When the blooms are spent, the stalk falls down and only Medusa remains. I’m pretty sure Dr. Suess was inspired by this odd flower. However, twenty foot tall stalks of yellow yucca flowers, while interesting, would not fit on my dining room table (if I had one) and they are not nearly as pretty as your peonies. Perhaps the peonies are nature’s way of paying you for surviving winter. We who live in the updraft from hell in the summer are merely paid with a mild winter.

  14. London says:

    I love peonies, but I’m terrified to bring them inside because they are completely toxic to animals….do your cats ever try to eat yours?

    • Pam'a says:

      I’d NEVER heard of peonies being toxic, so I did some internetting (so it has to be true…). From the sources I read, they’re only toxic to dogs. And as a vet’s daughter, I can tell you that I can’t recall *ever* hearing of a dog eating peonies.

      So haul an armload inside! :)

      • Karen says:

        Sorry I didn’t get a chance to reply to your question London. I can’t guarantee a thing about Peonies or their poisonousness. I try not to say if I’m not entirely sure about stuff. However, I did get a picture sent to me by a reader. It was a picture of her cat eating a Peony. Apparently the cat does a lot of flower eating and looks healthy to me. This same cat also eats tulips though so clearly, it’s a crazy cat. ~ karen

  15. Amy says:

    I love peonies as well. When we bought our current house (purchased in Nov 2004, but I didn’t see it in person until Dec 2004 – a story for another day) I was pleasantly surprised to find a gorgeous sorbet peony bush in the front yard that spring. I’ve shared bits of that peony with friends and family and they just love it. A couple of years ago my mom’s new neighbor decided she hated the previous owner’s cottage style gardening and was going to dig up and throw out all the peonies. My mom rescued dozens of them and I ended up with about ten or so new bushes (after sharing some of my share). They took about three years to get decent blooms, but it was worth the wait!


  16. ACVargis says:

    Sh*t, is it too late to plant some now?? (Southern hemisphere)

    • Karen says:

      ACVargis – Are you in Australia? As long as you can still find them in a nursery, and the ground isn’t frozen you should be fine, but I’m worried you won’t be able to find any! ~ karen

  17. Jenny says:

    I used to think that Peonies were called “pee on mes” and I wondered why my mom loved the smell of “pee on me”.

    I felt compelled to share my talent for misunderstanding things.

  18. Pam'a says:

    In small-town mid-America where I grew up, it’s a big deal in May to see if the peonies will bloom in time to take to the cemetery for Memorial Day. They’re absolutely gorgeous, spilling out of everything from armed service vases to Mason jars.

    (I hope that doesn’t queer the deal for anybody!)

  19. B.J.M says:

    I have a Japanese Tree Peony, which is just out of this world. My absolute favorite for flowers. They come up the size of plate chargers, when fully open, smell just wonderful, and best yet….no need for ants to make the life cycle stuff happen. Yeah!!
    I like the standard bush type peonies too…varieties are just endless now too. Well done!
    I’d love to send a photo of one…just not sure how.

    Cheers Karen,
    Brenda J.

    • Karen says:

      Brenda J. – If you aren’t yet, join my Facebook Fanpage and post your picture there. You should be able to just upload it! I have no idea how you can post one to my site here unless you save the picture to an FTP site which seems a bit complicated for a picture of a Peony, LOL. ~ karen

  20. Sarah says:

    I love these. Even as a little girl I remember picking the gross ants off because I thought they were going to ruin the soon to be pretty flowers.
    I love your pictures!

  21. Whitney P. says:

    I totally agree. Whenever I fill up my gas tank, I always think that it has to be a good day. Despite the amount of cash I just dropped to fill up, the possibilities are endless with a full tank of gas.
    And peonies smell way better than roses (or gas!). My neighbor was nice enough to offer a peony plant to me (it was an odd-ball one that she had growing a few feet from her others). I sent her a thank you note after I planted it, and she told me that I just jinxed myself. According to her, if you send a thank you for flowers, they will not bloom. Have you ever heard of such a thing?! Crazy! But maybe she’s right, since it shows no sign of blooming this year!

  22. Julie shinnick says:


    Your photos look great too! (I would say AWESOME but don’t want to upset you in any way!)

    Can’t help but notice how clutter-free your dining table is. At present…..mine has a few projects on-the-go and looks disgusting!

    Enjoy your flower season

  23. Anita says:

    I LOVE peonies! Most gorgeous flower on the face of Mother Earth. I grew up on the US east coast and we had one random peony bush in the middle of our forest-y lawn that we didn’t plant or take care of, but it came back every year. Now that we live in California, it’s much too warm for peonies – apparently they need to be frozen in the winter. I miss them so much. :(

  24. mary c says:

    I love this flower too, but the ants creep me out. My mom said to leave them floating upside down in a bucket to get them all out, but even that doesn’t always work. I can’t tell you how many times I thought FINALLY no ants, and then I see a little bugger happily crawling in and out.

    So I just gave up, and keep them on the plant; that way I can relax and the ant can live their life outside as God intended.

    Thanks for the planting advice, I will transplant this fall using the info from this post,

    And also you are soooo funny, but you already know that, I think,

  25. Erin says:

    I have been buying cut peony every week for the table. i live in apartment so planting isn’t an option but when we move out to a house watch out garden centre. Thanks for all the great tips on planting I will be sure to remember…. or at least as again when at the garden centre standing there going ‘i read something somewhere about how to plant them and they are touchy……. hummm i wonder what that was… oh I better ask!’

  26. Shauna says:

    I think your statistic is right on. I was a wedding planner and the number one flower requested was a peony. Unfortunately, they’re not the greatest of weddding flowers due to their ‘sensitivity’ – they will wilt faster than you can say “I do”. But, a good florist will always make it work;)

  27. saf affect says:

    Indeed – my fav flower. I’m spoiled every year with blooms from masses of 70 yr old plants in my parents’ garden.

    And I just found this fab oil painting so I know have peonies in my place all year ’round.

    • Karen says:

      saf affect – I absolutely LOVE the white peonies with the deep purple centre. Love them. Want them. Immediately. ~ karen

  28. Leslie says:

    Hilarious! Love this post Karen. :)

    Peonies have been a hot topic here lately. We have two and they been a bit pathetic honestly for the 3 years… too much shade I think. I had given them 1 more chance this year this show up or they were going to sunnier backyards. Just this weekend 5 blooms opened on one bush. Maybe they can stay another year… or 97.

  29. Lindsay says:

    Love this post, and peonies!

    Here’s a question, though (I feel like you will have a good answer) – what are your tips on keeping cut flowers looking great for longer? I once heard a teensy bit of bleach in the water helps, but that frightens me.

    I ask because I happen to have some peonies sitting on my coffee table, and they happen to look dead.

    • Karen says:

      Lindsay – The best tip I can give you for keeping blooms in the house longer is to pick them sooner! Don’t cut a flower that’s already in full bloom. That’s everyone’s temptation. If you want to bring flowers in from outside cut ones that are still closed, or just barely beginning to bloom. I never use bleach or anything in my water. Occasionally I’ll use the packet of “stuff” from a florist shop but rarely. Just keep your flowers in the coolest room in your house if you can. If not, at least keep them out of direct sunlight. This and cutting them when they’re just barely starting to bloom will ensure they last longer. ~ karen!

  30. Carol-Anne says:

    LOL blooming…

  31. Carol-Anne says:

    My beauties just finished bluming but got a photo when they were at their peak! So wished they lasted longer… Love the colour of yours Karen. I may add that colour this year.


    • Karen says:

      Wow! Yours are HUGE. They’re beautiful. I have to admit, I really like the deep colour of mine too! It was just by chance. A neighbour of my mother’s was splitting her peony bush the first year I moved into my house, so she left me take a bit of it. The woman has since died, but her peony bush lives on in my garden. ~ karen

  32. Paulina J! says:

    Get out of my head woman!! I have been doing some research on peonies since we will be movimg to a new house and this is what I want to plant. I love flower arrangements and called one of my local florists and was told that each stem is $14. I was too shocked to ask if that was truly the price and just hung up. Surely, that’s not right?!?!? Anyways, I hope to be getting free blooms next year, for the next 100 years, from my own peony bush.

    • Tina says:

      $14?! My Trader Joe’s has a bunch (something like 6 to 8 stems) for $6.99.

      I love peonies but only have roses. Perhaps it’s time to fix that situation. :o)

  33. Laura M says:

    What a coincedence! I picked several of my peonies this morning too! I have 7 pink peonies in a glass pitcher – heavenly and one tucked in a vase with 3 pink roses.
    Yes it’s true you need a bunch of roses to get the same WOW as a single peony. I put a yellow rose in a bud vase on my nightstand. :)
    Yeah flowers!

  34. Pam says:

    I love peonies too. Yes, I am in the 90%. :) Yours are beautiful!


  35. blake says:

    SO I disturbed a peony this weekend in fact…My neighbor sold her house and moved…asked if there was anything I wanted from the house before the final walk thru the next morning…I went over and helped myself to her Peony shrubs. 3 unhappy shrubs that had been planted under other things and were seriously grumpy about it.
    Hopefully in 2 years they will like their new home and finally forgive me for digging them up in the dark with my 5 year old holding the flashlight. It will truly be an experiment in how far you can push a peony and still get it to bloom.

  36. Kasia says:

    I just put a peony out on our table yesterday. However, it is a really, really pale pink, and I like yours better. Peony-envy. >sigh<

  37. Lydia says:

    We planted a raised veggie garden this spring, and in order to do so I had to transplant the peony bush I inherited from my Grammom. It still produced a few blooms, then abruptly threw me the stink eye and dropped all of it’s other buds. Diva. And mine is the same color.

  38. Laura says:

    What you say is so true! I have been meaning to move my sad shaded Peonies for a few years now. They haven’t bloomed in so long, I’ve forgotten the colours. I am working on a spot in the sun for them to move to this fall (finally!) but last thursday I was out in the back & noticed one has actually bloomed! Two flowers, & now I’m afraid to move it!

  39. Peonies have always been one of my favorite flowers. Love their scent! My husband brought me home a couple of those boxes of the rhizomes a few years ago. I planted all 14–yep, 14–never expecting them all to come up. But they did! This is their 3rd year and they were beautiful. I have the same color as your photos, as well as a lighter pink. I too face moving some of them this fall. My mother says peonies must be planted in August or they won’t bloom–but I’ve proven her wrong!

  40. kate says:

    How right your are! There is nothing as beautiful as peony blossoms and the scent is wonderful. Growing up we had an ancient peony bush and every year we’d have huge vases full of peony blooms. Thanks for the peony photos and the memories on a Monday morning.

  41. Leanne says:

    Peonies are my favorite flower too. So with you and me… that’s got to be close to 90% right there. Thanks for the planting tips. I have admired these flowers too much to squash them with my black thumb. Maybe I will try it. (In the fall. Not the spring. See how well I listen? ) Oh and I’m sure you know this but your table looks awesome. Your table has made my table feel ashamed of itself.

  42. I agree with you. Peonies are my absolute favorite flower. We were lucky enough to have 3 beautiful peony bushes already flourishing here when we moved in. We’ve split them a couple times and while it does take a couple years for the new bushes to bloom, they are now doing well, too. We also planted a tree peony, whose blooms look similar but slightly different. Bright pink with a yellow center. I think it’s a tree peony because the branches are woody, otherwise I’m not sure what the difference is. I only wished they all bloomed longer. Mine are done for the year.

    • Karen says:

      Jenny – You’re right. They don’t seem to bloom very long. :( And all the flowers have a tendency to bloom at once instead of in succession. :( ~ karen

  43. marilyn says:

    I LOVE PEONIES!! they are perfect, my house is full of them right now.i also have three tree peonies which take even longer to bloom but are so worth it just for the smell. pure heaven and oh so beautiful! i don’t feel too bad about cutting my peonies because they often get so top heavy they fall over anyway so i figure i may as well bring them in the house where i can see them all the time and yes they put a real smile on my face too karen. my next investment for the garden…a fringe leafed peony.

  44. magali says:

    do you brush your stinky cat’s teeth? I’ve had my kitten since December and I have yet to brush her teeth. The little starter’s manual I got says it should be done daily, but I think that’s just crazy. I have been meaning to do it once it a while though… at least her breath smells fine!

    • Karen says:

      Magali – I took her to the vet her breath was so wretched. He said she’s normal, leave her alone. :( ~ karen

    • Pam'a says:

      I go by one simple rule when it comes to most animal hygiene: They’ve managed beautifully for the last however-many thousand years without humans doing these things to them, so it’s doubtful they suddenly need us doing it now.Except for vaccinations, which are a GOOD thing among civilized pets. And provided you don’t feed them people food.

  45. Deb says:

    I’m not sure if I’ve ever left a comment….but I do “stalk” you quite a lot!!! ;-) You are so funny and I enjoy stopping by….you make me smile, just like your peonies do you…and we can all use all the smiles we can get!!! HOPE you have a blessed week!!!

  46. Mike says:

    I disagree. If flowers were high school girls the overweight uncool one with the Coke bottle glasses and bad skin would be called Peony.

    • Karen says:

      Mike – Let me guess. You got rejected by a girl named Peony once. ~ karen

      • Bobbie White says:

        I loved your response Karen! Rejection hurts! Lol!

        I have been trying to grow peonies FOREVER from my Dad’s, and have never been successful. From reading your blog, I can understand why! I took them and transplanted them in the springtime.

  47. Branwen says:

    I love this plant but I don’t have it in my garden. There is one in my parents garden. Right soil level you say? I can do that. Perhaps next week the peony will be in my garden. Don’t tell my mum…

  48. rebecca gostin says:

    I just picked the same color peony this afternoon and put it on my windowsill. I love them!

  49. Pam'a says:

    Yes! Peonies are the Queens of the Garden! If you’re someone new to growing them, a word about those ants you’ll see, busily working on the buds: Leave them alone! (Okay, 3 words.) Because the peony buds NEED the ants chawing on them in order to open.

    p.s. I have two, but due to an overzealous “dwarf” red maple, they lack sun now. I face transplanting them this fall with great trepidation.

    • Karen says:

      Pam’a – Yes thats’s true. The Peony needs an ant to open it. Forgot to mention that. Thx! ~ karen

      • Lisa says:

        actually, I think that’s a myth.

        • Karen says:

          Lisa – True enough, it appears to be a myth, although some gardening sites claim if the flower is an especially tight one, the ant getting into the tight petals to get to the nectar covering the bloom, can help open it. Dunno. ~ karen

    • Pam'a says:

      Hmm. I can’t recall who told me the story I base this on, but whoever-it-was didn’t know about ants and peonies, sprayed and killed the ants, and subsequently had no blooms that year. ‘Sounds entirely scientific to me…Heh.

  50. jenn b says:

    Last year I planted my very first peony, and this year – as noted by the expert peony person you are – I have exactly 3 (count em’) slightly anemic but beautiful blooms. One of which my two year old decided was a weed when we were weeding, and she pulled off…. Gotta love it –

    Looking forward to future happiness with my little peony ~

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