The Best of Both Worlds - Itoh (Intersectional) Paeonies
Richard Woods, from Lilies and Chillies, on these sought after and highly desirable paeonies. - 24 July 2015
Combining the best of herbaceous and tree paeonies, Itoh hybrids are long lived garden plants that grow like a normal garden paeony but look like a tree paeony. They produce strong growing and very floriferous specimen plants with up to 50 flowers held on stout stems that are able to hold the flowers up without staking.
Itoh paeonies are as easy to grow as their herbaceous relatives. Plant in full sun or dappled shade in fertile soil. The root stock should be planted just below the surface, do not be tempted to plant pot grown paeonies deeper than they are in the pot. It can take a couple of years to reach their full potential. Be patient, it is worth the wait. When mulching avoid the crown as it may become too deeply planted and if you wish to move or divide your Itoh then do this in the autumn.
A little history. Dr. Tiochi Itoh successfully crossed Paeonia x lemoinei (a hybrid tree peony) with Paeonia lactiflora ‘Kakoden’ (a white flowered herbaceous peony) to produce the first Intersectional Paeonia. Dr. Itoh never got to see the success of just 36 seedlings from over 20000 crosses passing away in 1956, eight years before they flowered in 1964.
Collaboration between the American paeonia breeder Louis Smirnow and the Itoh family ensured that these hybrids were not lost to cultivation with the first Itoh- Smirnow hybrids ‘Yellow Crown’, ‘Yellow Dream’, ‘Yellow Heaven’ and ’Yellow Emperor’ being registered with the American Peony Society in 1974. A much improved yellow ‘Bartzella’ arrived during 1986 with single divisions exchanging hands for $1,000. Fortunately, prices today are within reach!
Richard and Leigh Woods run Lilies and Chillies, a specialist nursery based in Derbyshire, where they grow a range of unusual & traditional perennial plants including a varied coloured selection of Itoh paeonias and lots of lilies.
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