Garden Gem

Festiva Maxima Peony in Central Alabama

Peonies are an iconic garden perennial in the colder northern states. The spring blooms are showy and fragrant.  There are numerous varieties to choose from including herbaceous and tree types. In Alabama, the peony feels less at home with our mild winter chill and warm springs. Peonies often fail to flourish in the Deep South, but ‘Festiva Maxima’ is one variety that seems to prevail despite the reputation of lack-luster performance. An herbaceous peony hybrid, ‘Festiva Maxima’ has enormous double white flowers with occasional red specks. The flowers are so top heavy they often need staking or bracing especially after a hard rain.

Late April to early May is when peonies tend to flower in our climate. The hotter the temperature the shorter the time the blooms tend to last. So, despite the drawbacks, don’t hesitate to add a few peonies to your landscape. Peonies are purchased as dormant roots in the spring or in pots. Find a mostly sunny spot in your garden and leave them be.  Peonies prefer not to be moved once situated.

Article submitted by Hayes Jackson

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