Answer: Paeonia japonica, also known as P. lactiflora, is the 'mother' of many cultivars of the garden peony. Most peonies prefer full sun or some shade. They need deep, fertile, humus-rich, moist, well-drained soil. Prepare the site well, as peonies do not like to be moved. In fact, so long as the growing conditions don't change, peonies will grow happily for decades. Plant the crowns so that the eyes or new growth buds are 1-2" below the soil surface--no deeper or the plants won't blossom. Peonies need no pruning, but you can cut back the dead foliage in winter. Many gardeners stake their plants as the foliage and flower buds appear, because the blossoms often droop under their own weight. Fertilize after the flowering period and again in the fall with a balanced fertilizer such as 8-8-8. Peonies are a wonderful old-fashioned addition to any flower bed.
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