Highlights of 2017

The Brave New World of Itoh Peonies

One of the most exciting developments for the sunny perennial border in the last decade

Many exciting developments in gardening have come from hybridization, that is, crossing two different species that never would have crossed in the wild and creating horticultural hybrids unlike anything ever seen before in gardening. The Itoh peonies represent one such exciting innovation.

Itoh or intersectional peonies were pioneered by Toichi Itoh in Japan in the 1950s who made thousands of crosses between garden peonies and tree peonies attempting to create a bold yellow herbaceous peony. He was successful yet died before he could see his crosses in bloom. His plants were brought to the United States in the 1970s where various other breeders took up the challenge. In honour of his pioneering work these hybrid peonies are usually referred to as Itoh peonies.

For many years Itoh peonies were only available by division. Since bulking up peonies is a slow process this meant that Itohs remained quite expensive and rare for many years. At this time a small root of 'Bartzella' would easily sell for $300 each! Attempts at tissue culture or micropropagation seemed impossible by those attempting it until a company in Quebec called Planteck made a breakthrough. Today they are able to mass produce Itoh peonies by tissue culture rather than by division. The process is still time consuming and somewhat costly and the peonies grow slowly but this innovation has brought the price down considerably and into the range of the average gardener looking for something special.

Itoh peonies are herbaceous peonies that die back to the ground each fall though they may develop a woody base with time. They arise fresh in spring with foliage resembling that of tree peonies that is flushed with red and burgundy. As the foliage slowly turns to green the plants begin to form buds. The flowers can be as big as your face and are available in a wide range of colours including white, red, pink, peach, magenta, near-orange, and many shades of yellow. Itohs are hardy to zone 4 for sure and perhaps even zone 3 with winter protection and good snow cover. They would be a special addition to so many Canadian gardens.

Get to know all of the Itoh Peonies below or head to our mail order site to learn more.

Place a New Order for Itoh Peonies.

Add Itoh Peonies to an Exisiting Order: Email us at mailorder at phoenixperennials.com (insert the @ sign) and tell us your order number and what varieties and quantities you'd like. We'll add them and send you a new order confirmation. It's easy!

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Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants Ltd.
One of the largest and most exciting selections of perennials in the Lower Mainland.
3380 No. 6 Road, Richmond (Between Bridgeport and Cambie)
Please visit our web page for information on the nursery, driving directions and a map.
We are near the south end of the Knight Street Bridge and very easy to get to from all of the surrounding municipalities and beyond.

Opening Dates and Hours
February 24th to October 29th, 2017

Copyright Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants Ltd.

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