A Few Facts About Yellow Peonies
While yellow peonies aren't rare they aren't present on in all that many gardens, but when they are they can be show stoppers, whether they are of the single or double blossom variety. Most of the peonies we see in bloom range from white, through pink and red, to deep red, and occasionally, coral. A shrub or two of yellow peonies or a yellow peony tree can easily make a passer-by stop and take a second look. Most people aren't used to seeing them at all, and not a few will ask what kind of a flower that is.
Peony Types - As is the case with other peonies, yellow peonies can be found as herbaceous peonies, tree peonies, or intersectional hybrids. Herbaceous peonies are the type most often seen, what we usually just call a peony bush or shrub. Tree peonies are somewhat self-explanatory, while the intersectional hybrids are crosses between herbaceous and tree peonies. There are also herbaceous hybrids, crosses between different species of herbaceous peonies. Herbaceous and intersectional peonies will die back to the ground at the end of each growing season. The buds for the next year's foliage and blossoms form in the late fall, but form on the crown of the plant beneath the surface of the soil, and don't make an appearance until early or mid-spring. The tree peony, being a deciduous plant, will shed its leaves every fall, but the stem does not die back, nor should it be pruned back, at least not severely.
Many Shades Of Yellow - It was mentioned in the beginning that yellow peonies aren't rare, but they are scarcer than the more common colors and the intersectional yellow hybrids can be quite expensive, with individual plants costing in excess of $100 not all that uncommon. Some yellow peonies have a very bright yellow or golden color, a number of them have more of a lemon or citron hue, and there are also a number of blends, pink and yellow being among the more common, that can be very striking. Some of the bright yellow peonies will slowly fade to a pale yellow and almost to a white. Some of the blends change color quite dramatically during the blooming period and can be a sight to behold. When choosing yellow peony plants it's helpful to have some photos to look at to see what you might expect.
A Homebody - Peonies are sun loving plants, and also tend to be rather heavy feeders. It's always best to place a new peony plant where you think it is going to permanently reside. Peonies don't like to be moved once they are established. If you do decide to move a plant, do it in the fall, and do not transplant the entire root ball, but instead take a cutting, or a third or even a half of the root ball. If you transplant the entire root system, the peony may get grumpy and just sit for a few years without producing any blooms. Some plants will do that anyway, whether you trim back the root system or not, and since a yellow peony shrub can make a dent in your wallet, you'd like it to bloom every year. So it's best to try to find a permanent home for it in the first place.
Itoh Peonies - Intersectional peonies are sometimes called Itoh peonies, after the Japanese gardener who developed the first hybrids, so if you see that name, that's where it comes from. While these hybrids die back to the ground every winter like the herbaceous peonies, their blossoms and foliage resemble tree peonies. The beauty of the intersectional peonies is they can be grown where tree peonies cannot. Herbaceous peonies, native to the northern parts of Asia and Siberia, are extremely hardy plants, while tree peonies will only do well in warmer climates, not being nearly so hardy.
A few of the Itoh yellow peonies that are most often available include Yellow Crown, Yellow Emperor, Viking Full Moon, Garden Treasure, Nova and Nova II, and if you have around $300 to spare, a gorgeous and fragrant (for that price it should be) intersectional peony called Bartzella.