Hi there! Have you been curious about the mysterious allure of the Chinese Peony? With green thumb magic, Chinese gardeners have been continuously creating fresh, new peony varieties over centuries. These vibrant beauties aren’t just pretty faces but carry a rich tapestry of significance. So, if you’re itching to dig up the stories behind these floral gems and get the dirt on their cultivation journey, you’re in the right place. In this blog post, we will un-pot the world of the Chinese Peony, where every petal has a tale to tell and a legacy to grow!
The Significance of Chinese Peony
With a beauty that can make a stone statue blush, the Chinese peony is more than just a national flower – it’s an economic powerhouse too.
Culturally, these “kings of flowers” represent wealth and honor in Chinese society. But they aren’t just sitting around looking pretty.
Chinese peonies are also busy bees contributing to China’s bustling floral industry, helping to paint a rosy economic picture. According to CGTN’s 2023 report, the Chinese Peony industry contributed about $2 billion in income and more than 50,000 jobs to just one city in China. Furthermore, cities like Luoyang and Heze host annual peony festivals, attracting millions of visitors and boosting local tourism and business.
From Royal Headwear to Modern Popularity
If you are thinking Chinese peonies are just modern products or a beautiful plant type to attract visitors, wait to be surprised!
Back in the Tang Dynasty, peony flowers were all the rage. They were like the Kardashians of flora. Everyone, from emperors to everyday Joes, couldn’t resist their allure. In fact, the poet Liu Yuxi of the Tang Dynasty once penned, “Only peonies are the true national color; they sway the capital when they bloom.”
Now, here’s the juicy part: in the Tang Dynasty, only women of royal lineage could accessorize with peonies. Yep, you heard right! The peony hair ornament was a fashion statement strictly reserved for the crème de la crème of female society.
Fast forward to the Song Dynasty, and the peony’s fan base had expanded. Even men jumped onto the peony bandwagon. And no, we’re not pulling your leg. Men indeed strutted around with peonies adorning their hair! It’s fair to say the peony was the unisex head-turner of the Song Dynasty.
Today, the Chinese peony has infiltrated every nook and cranny of China, and its popularity shows no signs of waning. Whether you’re a royal or a regular Joe, you too can rock the peony power! So the next time you want to experience Chinese hairstyles, why not add a peony to the mix?
Famous Species of Chinese Peony and Their Cultivation
We’ve dipped our toes into the vibrant pond of Chinese peony culture. Now, let’s switch gears from dollars and cents to petals as we uncover some star players in the Chinese Peony game. These aren’t just your garden-variety peonies – each carries unique traits that make them stand out. So, get ready to meet the floral celebs of the Chinese Peony world.
Starting our journey, we encounter the “Yao Yellow,” a Chinese Peony species renowned as the “King of Peonies” for its rarity and precious nature. It is a peony variety from the Song Dynasty, originating from the home of Yao, a florist in Luoyang.
The Yao Yellow tends to bloom around May, coinciding with the inauguration of the Peony Cultural Festival in Luoyang and Heze cities. During its early blooming phase, the Yao Yellow parades a soft goose-yellow hue, transforming into a vibrant golden yellow as the flower fully blooms. Towering above its leaves, the neatly rounded, robust blossoms emit a delicate fragrance, further enhancing its charm.
● Floral Symbolism
The floral meaning of Yao Yellow peony is bright, wealthy, luxurious, eternal, grand, and full of vitality.
Cultivating the Yao Yellow requires fertile, loose, and slightly alkaline soil, much like creating a goldmine for these “golden” blooms. After pruning any broken or diseased roots and immersing the plant in insecticide and fungicide, the Yao Yellow requires spacious root expansion within the prepared pot or plot.
Upon planting, thorough watering is a must, with care taken to avoid waterlogging. It is to ensure our “royal” bloom doesn’t get its “feet” too wet. Especially in dry areas, watering before and after flowering, as well as before the soil freezes, is crucial.
A year after planting, an autumnal application of mature organic fertilizer serves as a well-deserved feast for our “royal” bloom. The Yao Yellow favors chemical fertilizers during spring and summer, coupled with regular watering.
In addition, a lime sulfur spray before bud break and a bi-weekly application of an insecticide and fungicide mix during summer maintain its health.
The “Wei Purple” peony is a prominent Chinese Peony species, known as the “Queen of Peonies.” This cultivar can trace its heritage back to the Five Dynasties period, originating from the home of Wei Renbo. Introduced to Wei’s garden by a woodcutter who found it on Shou’an Mountain, this flower hence got its name.
The Wei Purple exhibits striking purple-red blossoms, bearing a resemblance to lotus or crowns. It has a prolonged flowering period and is recognized for its abundant blooms.
● Floral Symbolism
The floral symbolism of Wei Purple peony is love and shyness.
For cultivation, the Wei Purple requires loose, fertile, and slightly alkaline soil. After planting, it’s essential to water the plant thoroughly. Subsequent watering should be regulated per the plant’s needs, keeping in mind that it does not tolerate waterlogging. In dry regions, watering before and after the bloom period and before the ground freezes is advisable.
Post a year of planting, an autumnal application of organic fertilizer is beneficial. In the spring and summer, a more frequent application of chemical fertilizers is recommended in coordination with watering.
For pest and disease management, a pre-bud-break application of lime sulfur and a fortnightly summer treatment with insecticides and fungicides would ensure the plant’s health.
Let’s gently unfurl the petals of another fascinating variety of Chinese peonies, the “Zhao Pink.” This remarkable peony has its roots (pun intended!) in the historic Zhao Family Garden of the Qing dynasty. The Zhao Pink is a direct descendant of the near-extinct Tong Zi Mian, also known as the “Child’s Face” peony.
The Child’s Face peony, with its charming pink color reminiscent of the soft blush on a child’s face and its fragile, tiny branches, passed down these endearing traits to the Zhao Pink. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that Zhao Pink is simply a Child’s Face 2.0. It takes the beauty of its parent and amplifies it, presenting larger, more bountiful flowers that bring a distinct air of grace and sophistication.
● Floral Symbolism
The Zhao Pink peony’s meaning in Chinese culture is youth, subtlety, and captivating beauty.
When it comes to Zhao Pink care, the guidelines mirror those of other peony varieties. The Zhao Pink thrives in loose, fertile soil with a hint of alkalinity. Preparing its new home involves clipping any damaged or diseased roots, treating it with a dose of insecticide and fungicide, and then ensuring the planting and soil packing process is done with care.
Adequate hydration is necessary for the Zhao Pink but beware of overwatering. The peony prefers a watering schedule timed around its blooming season and before the soil freezes. Regular fertilizer treatments, particularly organic ones in the fall and chemical ones in spring and summer, are crucial for maintaining Zhao Pink’s stunning display.
Lastly, remember to protect your peony. A pre-spring spray of lime sulfur, followed by a bi-weekly summer treatment of a mixed insecticide and fungicide solution, will help safeguard against pests and diseases.
Pea Green / Ou Green
Finally, the spotlight now turns to a true one-of-a-kind gem, the Pea Green, or as it’s locally known, Ou Green. This showstopper of a Chinese Peony breaks all the norms with its lush green hue.
It was born in the garden of a family named Ou in Luoyang City about 800 years ago. From the humble beginnings of white peonies, the world’s only pure green peony emerged through meticulous cultivation. Akin to a finely embroidered ball, the Pea Green got its name because its color resembles fresh peas.
The real magic happens when it blooms. It’s a late bloomer, but hey, good things take time, right? The Pea Green unfurls its petals to reveal a vibrant green color, which gradually fades as the bloom reaches its peak. With the sunlight’s touch, the flower transforms into a paler shade, even appearing white in some lighting. It’s a refreshing, elegant display with a beauty that strays from the ordinary.
● Floral Symbolism
The meaning of Pea Green peony in Chinese culture is life, expectation, a hint of love, and heartfelt dedication.
Caring for this unique Chinese Peony echoes our guidelines for other varieties. It’s a process that starts with selecting loose, fertile soil with a hint of alkalinity and continues with careful preparation, planting, watering, and maintenance to ensure the Pea Green flourishes.
Feeding your Pea Green requires a well-planned nutrition schedule. A dose of mature organic fertilizer in the fall, paired with chemical fertilizer applications in spring and summer, will keep it in peak condition.
Remember, prevention is better than cure, especially when it comes to protecting your Pea Green from pests and diseases. A lime sulfur spray before bud break in early spring, followed by an insecticide and fungicide mix in summer, will keep it looking fresh and fabulous.
Well, my dear peony pals, it’s been quite a journey, hasn’t it? We’ve dived headfirst into the vibrant world of Chinese Peony and met some flower royalty.
But as our peony parade draws to a close, let’s remember the key takeaways. Chinese peony isn’t just a pretty face. It’s steeped in history, symbolizes nobility, and has been a source of inspiration for centuries.
Maybe the next time you spot a Chinese peony, you’ll see it in a new light. Perhaps you’ll even find yourself considering a peony accessory for your next hairdo – because why should the Tang Dynasty have all the fun, right?
So here’s to the Chinese peony, the real MVP (Most Valuable Peony) of the plant world! May its vibrant colors continue to brighten our gardens, and its rich history inspire us to grow, just like this resilient flower does, in all circumstances.