The Wild Ones
Rare and often threatened in their native habitats
Species peonies are the wild plants that served as the first generation parents of our modern day hybrids and are now rare in nature. These gems of the genus Paeonia have seen a resurgence in popularity and are in high demand by gardeners worldwide. Both woody and herbaceous groups are represented among the species, all with somewhat more exacting needs than their hybrid offspring.
Many are smaller growing plants with foliage that is often truly unique, making them sought after additions to the garden. Many are outstanding candidates for the sharply drained rock garden, which promotes healthy growth and needed micro-climates.
Flowers are often single in form and are generally smaller than what is seen in the hybrids. Many of the smaller species have nodding flowers, presented well before other peonies come into bloom.
Of the 48 or so species, a number are of relatively easy culture and these make excellent plants to begin the experience of growing wild peonies. Most are cold hardy, even if coming from warmer climates, but may have difficulties with excessive water in garden situations. Performing some research into the background of a species is a wise idea before attempting to grow them and will help insure success.
Growing the species from seed is a great way to get started and will help conserve the wild populations. Experiencing the novelty and beauty of these unusual plants through their various life stages will surely satisfy any gardener. To get started, consider purchasing some seed of these gems through the American Peony Society’s Seed Distribution Program.