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Peonies and Hydrangeas

White blooming hydrangeas on tall green stems in front of a grey fence
White Hydrangeas

We love sharing gardening tips and tricks, photos and advice from our members. We received this submission from a new member, D.W. and absolutely adore the gorgeous peonies and hydrangeas.

Peony Plants:

I purchased these peony plants from SEARS 35 years ago. I didn't know at the time what colours I was getting, as they were a "special priced deal" with no information attached. My husband usually fertilizes our entire perennial garden with Scott's Lawn fertilizer 7-7-7 early spring (every year) and all the plants flourish. This year he bought 16-16-16 ( Nitrogen- Phosphorus - Potassium) at Peavey Mart Fertilizer Tips | Country Green Turf Farms. My husband says he uses a lawn fertilizer spreader or a hand spreader depending on the area of the garden he is fertilizing.

A bag of Harvest All purpose fertilizer in a garden bed surrounded by small plants and rocks.
All Purpose Fertilizer

In 2022, I also added Bone Meal to each peony plant. (This year I was busy with another bed and didn't add the bone meal. I will have to wait to see how the blooms compare in numbers and individual size .)

The photos attached are of my 2022 (and earlier) peonies as my 2023 peonies have not bloomed yet.

This photo was taken in Tiananmen Square in 2013. The little girl is wearing a small headdress with a peony adorning it.

The peony is a symbol of wealth and prosperity and is considered one of the most beautiful flowers in China. Historically, peonies were grown and enjoyed by Chinese emperors and other important people. They decorated peonies in their grand homes and planted them in royal gardens. Chinese Flowers: Their Cultural Significance and Symbolism | 1800Flowers Petal Talk
Three people sitting in front of a garden. The little girl is wearing a peony headband
Peony headband symbolizing wealth and prosperity

Ants & Peonies

Pink Peony bud on a tall green stem with green leaves
Pink Peony Bud

Ants and peonies have a symbiotic relationship. Looking closely at my peony flower bud photos, you will note green scales covering and protecting each of the forming blooms. Those green scales have a unique plant gland known as a nectary along the scales outer edges. The role of glands is to produce nectar (a blend of sugar, water and amino acids) which is an ideal food source for ants. I have read that ants will create a pheromone trail that shows fellow ants the way to the desired nectar. The worker ants harvest as much nectar from the plants as they can during the spring bloom season. The peonies in turn benefit from the fact that the ants often devour any insects that are attacking the plants.

Hydrangea Bushes

Red, green, gold and silver festive planter in a black vase
Festive Planter

These were also purchased at SEARS 35 years ago. I think these are the Annabelle as they have spread width wise but they have not grown more than 3-4 feet tall approx. Mine are hardy and don't get a lot of watering.

  • We cut them down to a size of 10 inches every spring; they grow multiple new green shoots up from the ground.

  • They are fertilized with lawn fertilizer in spring (my husband uses a hand spreader).

  • We cage them to support the stems; the blooms are quite heavy; a heavy wind storm will break some stems but not all are lost ; I love the sea of white blooms against the dark green foliage.

  • Early flower blooms are greenish turning white as they mature. In November, I cut the brown dried hydrangea flowers with stems from my garden bushes to use in my winter planters. One year I sprayed the dried brown hydrangeas a deep red for a planter. It worked well; gold would be fun to try.

Thank you, D.W. for sharing your passion for gardening with us!

If you would like to share your gardening adventures, email us at ATT: Blog Feature.

Happy gardening!

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