The peony Festiva Maxima lays claim to layered blooms and a color palette unique throughout the peony family. If you're looking to add a stunner to your garden, you need to make room for this flower.
What is a Peony Festiva Maxima?
All peonies stem from the Paeoniaceae family, with variations on the name included describing species' genetic make-up and aesthetic. Peony Festiva Maximas are classified as Paeonia lactiflora Festiva Maxima.
It is the coloration of these peonies that separates them from their cousins. Peony Festiva Maxima blooms are large, white, and speckled with red spots.
These flowers have been beautifying gardens for the past 150 years, having first appeared as a Mizelle hybrid in the 1850s. These peonies caused such a stir over the years to follow that they were awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
How to Grow Peony Festiva Maxima
This species of peony is ideal for the beginner's garden. Peony Festiva Maximas are naturally resistant to pests like deer and rabbits. They don't shrink back when exposed to early spring cold snaps and can instead survive - and thrive - well into the fall, regardless of weather fluctuations.
Partner these resistances with the flower's otherwise low-maintenance care regime, and you'll find that peony Festiva Maximas make an excellent addition to gardens new and old.
Peony Festiva Maxima Basics
- Size - at full bloom, peony Festiva Maximas grow to nearly three feet tall and three feet wide. The blooms themselves will droop towards the ground without supports, extending the reach of its foliage. Once the flowers have dropped away, you'll be left with green foliage that'll remain in your garden until the coming of winter.
- Growing Zones - this species of peony is hardy and can grow between zones three and eight, so long as its soil drains well.
- Soil Type - while peony Festiva Maximas are versatile flowers, they prefer loamy soil.
- Light - peony Festiva Maximas thrive when exposed to full sunlight, though they will be able to bloom if kept in shade for part of the day.
- Water - don't overwater the soil around your peonies, but you will want to water these flowers at least once a week to preserve the flow of nutrients from the soil to the roots.
- Fertilization - peony Festiva Maximas do not need to be fertilized annually. Instead, integrate organic compost into your tilled soil to see the healthiest blooms.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Peony Festiva Maximas
If you follow these steps from early spring to late fall, you'll enjoy a season full of bright peony blossoms and long-living foliage.
Step 1: Choose Your Location
Peonies are independent plants. When choosing a location for your peony festiva maximas, make sure you find a space that's far enough away from competing root systems that your peonies won't have to fight for nutrients.
The soil here should also drain easily after thunderstorms to prevent peony root rot.
Step 2: Prepare Your Site
You'll prepare your site differently for rooted peonies and peony seeds.
For rooted peonies: dig a hole that is at least a foot wide and that can readily contain your peony's grown-out roots. Before placing the plant into the soil, mix in your organic compost.
For peony seeds: your hole doesn't need to be nearly as deep. Mix compost into the soil of your choice and ensure that you can readily plant your peony seed at least one inch below the soil level.
Whether working with rooted peonies or seeds, make sure to leave at least 1.5 feet of room between your plots.
Step 3: Plant The Peony Festiva Maximas
For rooted peonies: place your transplant into your dug-out whole so that the roots are at least two inches below the surface of the soil. The buds of your peony plant should face skyward.
For peony seeds: place your seeds into the composted soil. Cover them so they're protected by at least an inch of soil.
Step 4: Back-Fill Your Plot
When burying your roots or seeds, make sure you prevent any air pockets from forming in your plot. Back-fill your plots by pressing down on the replaced soil, like you're packing brown sugar into a measuring cup.
Step 5: Water With Care
Once your peonies' roots or seeds are covered, dampen the replaced soil without drowning the plant. As the peonies take root, you'll want to water these plots at least once a week, preferably every five days.
Step 6: Add Mulch
Once the plots have been watered for the first time, layered them with mulch to preserve the moisture of the soil.
Step 7: Let Them Grow
If you planted your peonies in early spring, you'll likely see buds by April and blooms by May. Continue to water your peonies at least once a week to ensure their best appearance.
Step 8: Stake Your Peonies
As your peonies grow, you'll need to provide the foliage with support to ensure that the plant can support its blooms. Once your peony plant has grown to around two feet in height - but hasn't blossomed - use peony rings to create supports around the plant. These ring can be substituted for cucumber fences, through be aware that peonies will not active climb these supports.
Peony rings and peony stakes are designed, rather, to keep the heads of your peonies out of the dirt and to preserve their unique appearances.
Peony Festiva Maxima Photo Gallery
A Spotlight in the Garden
Peony Festiva Maximas are larger than the vast majority of their peony cousins. If you're looking to introduce a star to your garden, this peony is for you - so long as you provide this rising star with the room it needs to grow to its full size.
Cream and Crimson
Lady Macbeth may have cursed the red spots that dappled her pale skin, but she wouldn't have said the same of the red splatter decorating the peony Festiva Maxima's petals. These flowers possess a unique cream and crimson color scheme that's rivaled only by Indiana University.
A Unique, Familial Array
Peonies come in a variety of colors, ranging from shocking pinks to deep greens. The bi-coloration of this flower is almost entirely unique among its extended floral family.
Peony Festiva Maximas have "maxima" in their titles for a reason. These flowers are full to the bursting with extra petals due to a genetic mutation. Officially referred to as Mizelle hybrids, these flowers have double the normal amount of petals seen on peonies and are all the more lush for it.
A Punch of Color
The red coloration hidden on the peony Festiva Maxima makes the flower unique. Whether you think it looks like spilled paint or spattered blood, you have to admit that it lends a striking aesthetic air to an already-impressive flower.
Peony Festiva Maximas crop up in the fullness of spring, much like the rest of their family. Once the rains of April pass, you'll see the peonies' buds start to burst.
Great for Beginning Gardeners
Peony Festiva Maximas are notoriously low-maintenance flowers. They only need to be watered once a week when the weather is favorable, and they're especially tolerant of extreme weather. Not only that, but these flowers will naturally drive away the deer and rabbits that would otherwise nibble at their foliage.
Among the Hardiest of Flowers
If cared for properly, you'll see peony Festiva Maximas in your garden for years to come. This strand of peony is especially hardy and has been known to reappear in gardens after some of the harshest winters.
Despite the beauty they wield above ground, peony Festiva Maximas look more like carrots in their roots than they do flowers. When you first start to plant your peonies in the ground, you'll want to separate out their clumped-put roots.
Foliage After Flowering
Though the peony flowers themselves will eventually wilt, the peony Festiva Maxima won't leave your garden bare. These peonies, like their cousins, leave behind lush foliage. This foliage will remain green until the early days of fall, when you'll need to prune it away with the rest of the dead growth in your garden.
A Sunny Disposition
Peony Festiva Maximas thrive when exposed to full sunlight for at least six hours a day. Keep them out of the shady to see them grow to their fullest.
To Stake or Not to Stake?
The "maxima" in the peony Festiva Maxima's title can't be overstated. If you want to keep these peonies' blooms out of the dirt, you'll want to consider purchasing peony stakes alongside your growths.
You'll first be able to spot the peony Festiva Maxima's unique coloration in its bulbs as they appear in the spring.
The Process of Pruning
Peony Festiva Maximas are among the longest-living flowers to survive indoors after they've been pruned. If you want to decorate the interior of your home, these cut blooms will last a week when kept in an appropriately-hydrated vase.
One of a Kind
Unlike their popular, pink cousins, peony Festiva Maximas are prized for their unique appearance. They add aesthetic diversity to your garden while retaining all the benefits of the peony family tree.
Where to Buy Peony Festiva Maxima Seeds
It can be difficult to find specific species of peonies at your local shop. If you want to have your peony Festiva Maximas delivered right to your door, you're in luck. A number of merchants operating through Amazon are more than willing to make the procural process all the easier for you.
The Festiva Maxima Peonies through Caribbean Garden Seed is advertised as "giant" compared to the average peony. You'll definitely want to consider purchasing peony rings alongside these beauties. Find these on Amazon here.
Wanchen provides you with 10 peony Festiva Maxima shoots to integrate into your garden. You can find these here on Amazon.
The Festiva Maxima Peonies available through Butterflies are advertised alongside several other species of peonies. If you're looking to diversify the color in your garden, you can pair the unique, red-splatter of the Festiva Maxima with purples, greens, and pinks. Find then on Amazon here.