The Peony: The Current Indiana State Flower

5 min read

Over the years, Indiana has chosen numerous flowers as the state flower, among them being the Carnation, the Tulip Tree Flower, the Zinnia, and most recently, and current state flower, the peony. This beauty is known for its magnificent appearance, ostentatious flowers, colorful foliage, and is being admired and cherished in Japan, Siberia, and China for more than 2.500 years. In the next sections, you get to know more about:

* The origin of the Indiana state flower

* How the flower became Indiana state flower

* How to cultivate and take care of the flower

* Why you should have an Indiana state flower


This beautiful plant is native to Asia, Europe, and North-Eastern America. The peony was brought to America in the 1800s from Europe and has been an American favorite since then. There is debate among scientists on exactly how many species there are, approximating them at 25 to 40 different species.

Most of them are vascular plants with no persistent woody stems that can live more than two years, averaging at 0.25-1 meter tall, but some are woody bushes that grow up to 3.5 meters tall. They have deeply lobed leaves with large, usually scented flowers, and in late spring and early summer, the colors range from white, yellow, pink to red, and purple. The blooming season is short, at around seven to 10 days.

In temperate regions, these plants are among the most liked and popular garden plants. Herbaceous peonies are also a popular cut flower product for vases and house decor, usually available only in late spring and early summer. Peonies also grow in Alaska during the summer due to the long hours of direct sunlight. Distinctive growing conditions are met, therefore creating availability from the Alaskan market after other harvests were completed.

How Did It Become the Indiana State Flower?

There was a lot of debate over this subject in the legislature of 1957. There was a bill in the Senate that called for the tulip tree blossom to replace the zinnia. After that, it was changed at the last minute to the dogwood blossom. When it got to the White House, Laurence Baker talked the House Public Policy Committee into reading the peony, and the measure passed.

But Baker had a different goal. He owned farms in Corydon, Bloomington, and Kendallville and was a commercial peony farmer, and with his help, Indiana is one of the few states that adopted a non-native flower as its state flower.

Indiana Academy of Science allied with Wildflower Society and the Indiana Native Plant and launched the State Flower Project, the goal being to choose an Indiana native plant as its official state flower. Despite their efforts, they never succeeded, and the measure did not pass in the legislature.

How Do You Cultivate Peonies?

In China, the peony was used for centuries for flavoring food, even being mentioned in ancient Chinese texts. Ornamental peonies were cultivated from plants of medicinal purposes as of the sixth and seventh centuries.

Peonies do not require too much maintenance if you ensure that they are planted correctly, and they do not respond well to transplanting. The best time to plant a peony is in late September and October. Peonies should be planted about six weeks before the freezing temperatures. Peonies that are planted in the spring don’t develop as well and usually lag behind a year before those planted in autumn.

They are not picky about the place you plant them, but you should consider planting them in an area that is free of disturbance and doesn’t require transplanting. A lot of sunshine isn’t necessary to grow a peony, and they can manage with half a day, but if you want them to bloom fully, a sunny spot is best. The ground should be fertile, moist, and humus-rich, as well as a neutral pH.

When planting them, place them three to four feet apart to facilitate air circulation, and dig a copious hole, 2 feet wide and deep, in moist soil and a sunny spot. Place the root, so the buds face upwards, just 2 inches below the soil surface. When backfilling the hole, make sure it doesn’t push down and bury the root, be gentle when tamping it, and water it thoroughly.

How to Take Care of Your Peonies?

When planting a new peony, they require time to develop. They usually take a few years before they bloom, grow, and establish themselves. They do not require much maintenance, so it should be easy to care for them.

The soil should be well worked before planting, mixed with a little fertilizer and compost. If the soil is not fertile enough, you should apply fertilizer in the early summer, after the peony blossoms, and you should do so every few years. Peonies have weak stems which jeopardize their structural stability because of the enormous bloom, so it is advisable to invest in a three-legged metal peony ring or wire tomato cages to let the plant grow through the center of the support.

Mulch should be very rarely used. It should be used only in the cold temperature, and with very small amounts of pine needles and shredded balk, and you should remove the mulch in the spring.

Why Should You Care for a Peony?

While they usually average at 5 to 6 inches across at full blossom, some can develop into a gigantic 10 inches in diameter. The peony, also referred to as the flower of riches, is often symbolistically depicted to bring good fortune, luck, and happy marriage. It is also chosen as the official flower of the 12th marriage anniversary.

The peony is an inspiration for creative minds. For centuries, the peony inspired Chinese artists, writers and poets, and even European artists, including Van Gogh and Renoir.

Used by people throughout the years to bring a profit, this plant made millions for luxury fragrance specialists by extracting the sweet scent and bottling it into candles, body mists, perfumes, and lotions sold around the world. The Alex Fleming pink peony is mainly known as one of the most aromatic and fragranced varieties of peony. They can make for an excellent gift for your wife or mother, bringing them the aroma of tranquility and elegance that these Chinese plants often do.