As temperatures get warmer, there’s just so much more to look forward to – pool parties, trips to the park, and best of all, peonies! Peony season is upon us, and it’s definitely something to be excited about. After all, they are a popular bloom amongst flower enthusiasts everywhere.
We’re sure that you want to know more about these beautiful flowers as much as the next person, and it turns out that there’s a lot to know!
Seven Interesting Facts About Peonies Everyone Should Know
1. Peonies actually symbolize good fortune and a happy marriage, which is probably why they’re a popular addition to everyone’s wedding flowers.
2. The peony’s name actually derives from Greek mythology! Paeon was a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. Because Paeon discovered a root that could lessen birth labor pains, Asclepius grew envious of his pupil. To protect him from his mentor’s wrath, Zeus turned Paeon into a peony flower.
3. In Chinese, the name for the peony is sho-yu, which means “most beautiful” – and we’re definitely all on board for that title! Members of the Tang Dynasty of China bred peonies from around 618 to 907 in the imperial courts. In the early 11th century, peonies became popular in Japanese culture.
4. Throughout history, peonies were grown for medicinal purposes. People believed they could treat headaches, asthma, and even childbirth pain.
5. Surprisingly, peonies grow well in places like Alaska because they like to keep it cool.
6. Traditionally, peonies are used symbolically to celebrate one’s 12th wedding anniversary.
7. They can bloom for over 100 years under the right care! If you have a green thumb, you’re definitely in for a treat.
Do these just entice you to want to learn more? We’re here to help. Let’s dig into some more about peonies.
Superstitions About the Peony Flower
Medieval times were wild for the peony, according to the world’s first Wikipedia, Pliny’s Naturalis Historia, peonies had way more uses than decorating a table. It was believed that putting peony seeds under your pillow or in wine would protect you from having nightmares. Who knows, maybe the sweet smell of peonies while you sleep will give you sweet dreams too.
Celebrity Flower Dedications
Celebrity-named flowers are more common than you’d think. Notable flower a-listers with their own varieties include the Barbara Streisand rose, Marilyn Monroe Rose, and even the Betty White rose (she’s the best! Of course someone named a rose after her). Before any of them, there was the Sarah Bernhardt Peony.
Haven’t heard of her? Bernhardt was a French actress who is considered the world’s first celebrity actress. Plus, the flower itself is one of the most famous peony varieties as well. Sarah Bernhardt Peonies make up 20 of the 50 million stems sold every year by the Netherlands, the world’s largest producer of peony flowers. Bernhardt’s fame not only catapulted her own stardom, but it also helped to make her floral namesake legendary as well.
More About Peonies in Ancient Greece
Many ancient Greeks believed that the flower itself was created by the moon goddess Selene. Selene is the Greek goddess frequently seen wearing a crescent moon on her crown. It was thought that she created peonies to reflect the glow of the moon’s beams onto Earth for protection.
Plus, they thought the practice of growing them would ward off evil spirits and offer their planters protections. Basically, peonies acted like an ancient ghost security system.
Still Life with Peony
There is a majesty to the beauty of a peony in full bloom that we just want to hang on to. Famous artists from Vincent Van Gogh to Pierre-Auguste Renoir were so inspired to capture their beauty some of the world’s most priceless masterpieces were painted to create an artistic time capsule.
Edouard Manet, another impressionist, painted his own peony bouquet in 1864 and Renoir’s peonies were painted around 1880. Van Gogh created at least two in 1886 and possibly another around 1889-90.
Van Gogh’s last peony painting was the subject of great controversy regarding a hair found under the paint and DNA testing to prove its authenticity (it still is not yet officially confirmed). Either way, it’s clear that this era in Europe was an important time for the peony flower.
Aside from them clearly being a familiar flower in Europe at that time, it’s clear that each iconic artist saw something inspiring in this famed flower. Seeing a bouquet of peonies in-person shows us exactly what these world-famous painters found so inspiring.
Alaska’s Rich Growth
For sixty years, peonies have been an important crop flower in Alaska because they can grow comfortably in colder climates. Not only are they reasonably frost resistant, their growth actually thrives on cold weather during their dormant season. It’s what makes Alaska a perfect place for peonies to “chill” before “open season”.
These days the peony flower is a favorite of brides and lovers alike and has a loyal following that celebrates their season every year. We have an easy way to help you keep an eye out for peony season, especially since it’s one we look forward to as well. In the immortal words of Marco Polo, a man who was clearly not a poet, with “roses as big as cabbages” what’s not to love?
Peonies Can Outlive Humans
One of the most little-known facts about peonies is that the plant can live and grow for over a century – sometimes outliving their human caretakers. The beautiful peony is a perennial that comes back each spring and blooms through summer, though with early, mid-season, and late-blooming varieties it’s easy to extend their growing season with a mix of peony varieties.
Peony Flowers Can Be Larger than a Cabbage
Many peonies are herbaceous, meaning they die back in winter and reemerge in spring. These can grow up to three feet in height and four feet in width. Blooms of these varieties can be about eight inches across. There are also “tree peony” varieties that feature a hardy woody stem.
Bring Peony Blooms Into Your Life
Blooming season for our favorite ruffled stems begins in April and goes through the months of May and June! Don’t miss out on some of summer’s best and bring home your very own bouquet of peonies. With all this newfound knowledge of peony flowers, you’ll only appreciate them more and more. We can also help if you want some tips on how to arrange your peony blooms and find peonies near you.Shop All