Itoh peonies are a hybrid of a tree peony and a herbaceous (garden) peony, and is one of our favorite perennials at Oakridge. A Japanese breeder, Toichi Itoh, took the best qualities from each “parent” plant and it has produced exceptional results. The tree peony is a woody plant that can grow several feet tall and wide. While the tender shoots die back in the winter, the woody stems remain. The blooms on the tree peony are large, up to 10″ across, with exquisite colors and patterns. The other parent, the herbaceous peony has blossoms that vary across a density spectrum from a delicate single, to a double bursting with petals, and dripping with its delicious scent. The colors and perfumes are impressive but not as eccentric and varied as the tree peonies. Herbaceous peonies are all tender stem, which means that they die back to the ground every winter and they are top-heavy, requiring support to keep the blooms from drooping to the ground. With all this said, the best qualities from both of these plants have produced that ITOH PEONY (aka Intersectional peony – formal name) : the handsome foliage, strong supportive stems, and blockbuster bloom sizes and colors from the tree peony; and the manageable plant size that dies back to the soil each winter and the abundance of blooms from the herbaceous peony.
Perhaps the finest gift the Itoh peony could give is its long-lasting bloom time. Herbaceous and tree peonies alike bloom for only a recious few days, but because intersectional peonies have more than one bloom per stem, the plants will flower up to a month as one fantastic bloom opens up after another.
Care for your peony : They like a sunny, well-drained location – standing water is an enemy of the peony. Depending on the fertility of the soil, add a perennial fertilizer in the spring. If the plant is thriving and the soil is fertile, peonies don’t require regular applications of fertilizer. They are also very drought-tolerant, especially when they are well-established.
Resist the urge to cut the flowers from your peony, especially in the young plant. If you just can’t resist, take but a few flowers from each plant and be careful to leave as much foliage as possible. (the leaves contain the peonies food reserves) A general rule of thumb: In a 3yr old plant or younger, don’t cut any flowers. In a mature plant (5yrs old), about 50% of its flowers should be left.
At Oakridge we love the Itoh Peony. It is breathtaking and you’ll enjoy the tremendous blooms, over and over again as it transforms your garden.