Why Plant Intersectional Hybrid Peonies (Itoh Peonies)?
Intersectional or Itoh hybrid peonies are crosses between herbaceous peonies and tree peonies, and offer the best characteristics of both.
They have glorious flowers like those of Japanese tree peonies. They are relatively compact in growth like herbaceous peonies but, unlike them, the mound of foliage stays looking good. They bloom for longer than either. Blowsy and colourful, easy to grow and excellent as cut flowers, they are the perfect colourful plant even in small gardens.
The flowers of intersectional peonies are similar to those of Japanese tree peonies.
Colours available include flame colours like yellow and apricot, as well as pink. Most of them bear lightly scented, semi double flowers around June and all have beautiful long, yellow stamens. The flowers close up at night to protect themselves, and so they last longer than other types of peony. Each flower lasts up to five days, and the total bloom period is up to four weeks. That’s twice as long as others. They are followed by attractive, furry seedpods (which are unfortunately empty).
Compact Growth habit
They look like herbaceous peonies, but a little more upright. The woody stems hold the flowers up well so they don’t need staking. The leaves can be shiny or matt and are deeply divided. After blooming has finished, the leaves continue to look great until they turn brilliant red and then fall. Most varieties grow 2-3’ high (60-90cm). This combination of attractive habit and lovely flowers makes them very useful in the garden.
Easy to Plant and Care for
Plant them with their crown and buds about 1” (2-3cm) below soil level. Planting too deep is one of the most common reasons why peonies sometimes don’t flower. Water well at planting time, then occasionally but thoroughly as the foliage grows. All our peonies are containerised in big 5.5L pots so they can be planted at any time of year.
If planting bare root specimens, plant in winter or early spring, first cutting back any damaged roots. When you plant, make sure you jiggle some soil between the roots. Water lightly.
In autumn or winter cut down the woody stems to the base, just as you would with herbaceous peonies. Once they’ve got to a good size, they can be divided by digging up the clump, chopping it in pieces and replanting to the right depth. Being woody, it’s hard work though!
They are highly resistant to peony wilt.
It’s all in the name
The name “Itoh hybrid peonies” is a fitting tribute to horticulturist Toichi Itoh from Tokyo. In the 1940s, he used pollen from the yellow tree peony “Alice Harding” to fertilize the herbaceous P. lactiflora “Katoden”. This resulted in a new category of peonies, the Itoh or intersectional cultivars.
The peony genus, Paeonia, is named after Paeon, a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. Asclepius became jealous of his pupil. Zeus saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower. According to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peony
Buy Intersectional Peonies
To view or buy some of our favourites, please click on these images. All of them are containerised in large 5.5L pots.
Campanula ‘Loddon Anna’
Lupin Gallery ‘White’, ‘Pink’, ‘Yellow’