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Peony – ‘Bowl of Beauty’

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’ (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Bowl of Beauty’) is an old garden favorite, introduced in 1949. Light fuschia-pink petals surround creamy white staminoides. ‘Bowl of Beauty’ is one of the most famous peonies grown today, inexpensive to buy, and easy to grow.

Bowl of Beauty Peony
Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’.

‘Bowl of Beauty’ grows around three feet tall with a similar spread. It was hybridized by Hoogendoorn and is considered a Japanese peony  form.

The life of a peony flower is remarkably short. Garden writer Fred McGourty used to make sure he was around for the weekends in spring as that is when the peonies would invariably bloom. ‘Bowl of Beauty’ has a reputation for a longer bloom period than many peonies.

‘Bowl of Beauty’ is a strong growing peony, with stout stems that rarely need staking.

You can grow peonies in sun or partial shade. Shade encourages floppy demeanor. In gardens full of peonies with the flowers laying on the ground due to stems giving way, ‘Bowl of Beauty’ is always standing proud.

bowl of beauty
Bowl of Beauty peony in the garden.

People debate the bloom time of ‘Bowl of Beauty’ but in my experience, it blooms just as the roses get going. Peonies are easy to grow, hardy USDA zones 4-8. They are not too particular about soil, although the more loam and compost the better.

If you get bare-root specimens, plant the eyes up and the roots down no more than two inches deep…aim for a half-inch in the south. If you plant peonies too deeply you risk having no flowers. I always forget to plant bare-root peonies in fall (which is much less expensive), and end up paying exorbitant prices for peonies in the spring.

Peonies, like many hostas and vines, can be deliberate growers their first couple of seasons in the ground. Patiently give them time to develop full root systems. Peonies get better with age.

Fertilize twice a year, in early spring as the peonies get going and then midway through the growing season. Use a fertilizer low in nitrogen and higher in phosphorous and potassium. Too much nitrogen will encourage lots of foliage/stem growth, potentially leading to weak stems. If you do not wish to stake your peonies (and I don’t), then anything we can do to encourage flower production over foliage is a good thing.

I have never watered a peony in the garden after the first season.

I tend to plant peonies where they can gently fade away into the background after blooming. Peonies are superb choices for areas of the garden that also include perennials that come on late.

Bowl of Beauty peonies
Bowl of Beauty peonies.

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