19 September, 2012

Chinese tree peony--Feng Dan Bai

‘Feng Dan Bai’, sold in commerce and recommended by Gansu Zhongchuan Peony Nursery under the trade name of PHOENIX WHITE, is a Chinese tree peony. It is a deciduous woody shrub that grows to 4-5’ tall and as wide. When originally discovered, it was listed as a cultivar of P. suffruticosa, but some authorities now consider it to be a cultivar of Paeonia ostii. Upward facing, fragrant white flowers (to 7” across) with slightly ruffled petals and contrasting yellow center stamens bloom in early spring. Medium green foliage is deeply divided into oval to lance-shaped leaflets.

This tree peony selection has white single form flowers, 8 inches in size, with dark glossy leaves and a sweet fragrance. Blooms face upwards, floating like silk on top of the leaves.
The plant is very productive at an early age with a vigorous, spreading growth habit.


Some flowers will have the slightest pink tone when first open, fading quickly to pure white. Plants grow rapidly and are very erect, growing to 4-5 ft tall and 4 to 5 ft wide at 8-10 years maturity. A 2-3 yr-old plant will be about 20-24 inches tall, and many of these are ready to bloom at this young age. It is a superb early blooming variety.


These white peony do best in deep, fertile, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. They are tolerant of summer heat. Add compost as needed before planting. Larger shrubs appreciate some shelter from strong winds. Unlike herbaceous peonies, the stems of tree peonies (which are woody plants) do not die to the ground in winter and should not be cut back after frost. No pruning is required, except to cut out dead wood or suckers in early spring. If plants become leggy, a moderate pruning in early fall can be done to shape plant and encourage additional growth on the lower part of the plant. Remove spent flowers after bloom. These long-lived plants usually take several years to establish, and are best left undisturbed once planted. Moreover, plant roots go deep and transplanting can be difficult.

Tree peonies are considered to be relatively pest free. Some susceptibility to canker, leaf blight, stems wilt and scale. Ants on peony buds are common and totally harmless. Excellent in borders as specimens and in groups. Also effective as accents or hedges along fences, sidewalks, driveways or walls. Flowers are extremely showy, and foliage remains attractive throughout the growing season, either alone or as a frame or backdrop for other flowering plants.

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