Paeonia wendelboi is one of the newer species being seen in a number of collections worldwide. The species originates in the Talysh area of Iran and was introduced into culture in 1980 through the collection of seeds. The habitat is located in Northeast Iran in a low mountain region. The region is dry, rocky and has little vegetative cover in the form of trees and shrubs. Plants of P. wendelboi may be found on rock outcrops and among scree/talus fields on relatively steep slopes. From a gardeners point of view, the natural habitat appears forbidding and not a place peonies might grow.
Well adapted to the conditions of the habitat, P. wendelboi has thick and rather succulent leaves carried on short stems, a trait which helps conserve water in dry seasons. However, P. wendelboi has proven to be a relatively easy plant to grow in gardens throughout Europe and recently in the United States, which obviously have wetter seasons and colder winters. Its closest relatives is P. daurica ssp. mlokosewitschii and others in the complex. At first glance P. wendelboi would appear to be a variation of the more common P. daurica ssp. mlokosewitschii, but the viewer will quickly notice a much more diminutively sized plant, deep butter yellow flowers and of course the very rounded thick foliage.
The plant grows easily in the same well drained soil all peonies require and is able to survive winter temperatures as low as -25F (possibly lower). Colder growing regions will experience slower increase of plants, while warmer areas, as experienced in the Netherlands or the Northwest United States, will see their plants increase more quickly. Plants are reliable early bloomers and prolific producers of easy to germinate and grow seed, although seedlings take a few more years than normal to bloom for the first time. P. wendelboi easily cross pollinates with P. daurica mlokosewitschii, but the resulting offspring are often infertile (sterile). Further hybridizing experiments will surely be carried out as the plants become available to those interested in making new crosses.
All said, P. wendelboi will surely be a popular plant for the small garden or rock gardens. At this time plants are not readily available for purchase, but with some effort seeds can be found through mail order. For further information do a search of Paeonia wendelboi, you’ll find much interesting information.
Images courtesy of Lois Girton.
Categorized in: Peony Portraits