Alexander Fleming PeonyPaeonia lactiflora 'Dr. Alexander Fleming'
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Paeonia lactiflora 'Dr. Alexander Fleming'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Alexander Fleming Peony is a classic double peony, with very large, 8-inch blooms of many petals. It is a rich rose-pink, fading to lighter pink at the petal edges, and it flowers in early June. Stems have lots of side-buds that extend blooming in the garden, and the strong stems hold up the blooms very well. The decorative foliage makes this an attractive shrub-like plant when it is not in bloom. Grow it in all styles of garden, from formal to cottage and Asian too. Plant a row along a path or at the foot of a wall. This plant lives for decades, and it needs almost no care to thrive.
Grow the Alexander Fleming Peony in full sun or light partial shade. It is completely hardy in zone 3, so ideal for northern gardens. It grows south to zones 7 or 8, and it thrives across most of the country. Plant in rich, well-drained soil of any kind, and mulch in fall with compost or other organic materials. Pests and diseases rarely bother it, and both deer and rabbits leave it alone. Choose a suitable spot when first planting, as this plant doesn’t move well. Plant with the buds or stem bases just an inch or so below ground and give it a year or two to become established.
Peonies occupy a special place between shrubs and herbaceous plants. They do die down to the ground each year, but they have such a strong ‘presence’ in your beds when they are growing, that they could easily be mistaken for exotic shrubs. Once you plant one you can expect to have it for decades, as these long-lived plants are more durable than many shrubs. If you live in colder regions, they will grow especially well for you, making wonderful replacements for the more tender plants of the south that you can’t grow. When it comes to putting on a great show, with large, double fragrant blooms, the Alexander Fleming Peony is a hand’s-down winner.
The Alexander Fleming Peony forms a rounded bush, between 2 and 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. The fun begins in spring when out of the ground rise a cluster of bright red stems, that look like tiny arms, each one ending in a ‘clenched fist’ of furled leaves. The stems elongate, turning greener as they develop, but keeping that attractive red for several weeks. As the leaves expand, we see that they are deeply divided into several large lobes, with cut edges, making a very attractive mounded bush, which will keep its healthy, glossy, deep-green foliage right through the summer and into fall. In colder regions the leaves turn lovely shades of golds and scarlets as the temperatures fall, making a great splash of color.
As the stems rise up in spring, and the leaves expand, you will see the flower bud. Every stem is topped with a fat, round bud, and this variety also produces several side-buds on every stem, so you will have a profusion of flowers. The stalks are strong, and unlike some inferior varieties, the Alexander Fleming Peony holds its blooms up straight, without flopping. The fat central bud opens first, with a glimpse of pink that soon becomes a large, full 8-inch blossom. With many petals, it forms a gorgeous rounded bloom with a high center, and every petal is colored a beautiful shade of deep rose-pink, fading out towards the ends of the petals to a softer pink, giving the bloom wonderful toning. This is one of the most highly-scented of all the peonies, so press your face deep into the bloom, and breathe deeply – simply amazing. Blooming begins in early June, and a bloom is attractive for 7 to 10 days. As the central bloom fades, the side blooms open, giving you 2 to 3 weeks of blossoms in all. Once you trim away the spent blooms back to the first leaf you have a beautiful green shrub that will stay gorgeous for the rest of the season.
There are lots of places around the garden you can grow the Alexander Fleming Peony. Use it as a medium-sized shrub, alone or in a group, in any shrub bed. Grow one as a specimen in a courtyard garden. Plant a row alongside a pathway, or at the foot of a wall or fence. You may have a formal city garden, a country cottage garden or an Asian one, it will always look great. Space plants 2 feet apart when making groupings or planting rows. Choose your planting spot carefully, as peonies take a year or two to establish themselves, and they don’t like being moved around. Plant it also in a kitchen garden or cutting garden, because blooms will keep for a full week in a vase, and they make lovely flowers for your home. Cut blossoms when they are fat and showing plenty of color, but when they are still partially closed, and let them open in the vase.
The Alexander Fleming Peony grows best in cooler zones, so its great for the north. It is completely hardy in zone 3, and all the way into zone 8 in the west, and zone 7 in the east. Plant in full sun or in partial shade. This plant will grow well in the shade of walls and buildings, with overhead clear sky, but not so well with more than a few hours a day of shade from overhanging trees. The soil should be well-drained, but acid or alkaline, sand, loam or clay, peonies don’t mind at all. Rich soil is best, so add plenty of organic material when preparing the ground for planting, and mulch each fall, directly over the plant, with a layer of compost or well-rotted manure. Peonies are usually free of diseases, if in good light and well-drained soil, and they are untouched by rabbits or deer. Simply cut down the stalks to an inch or two in late fall – that is all the care needed, and this plant is incredibly easy to grow, and long-lived.
The Chinese peony, Paeonia lactiflora, grows wild all the way from Tibet, across northern China, and into eastern Siberia. Loved in the East for centuries, and featuring in art, fabric and ceramics, the first plants brought to Europe were white, with a single bowl of petals and a golden center. Many varieties have been created over the years, especially in the second half of the 19th century, and early into the 20th. The variety called ‘Alexander Fleming’ was selected in the Netherlands, as a tribute to the work of that famous doctor, the person who discovered the first antibiotic, penicillin. It was developed by crossing two older varieties, ‘Bunker Hill’ and ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ together and growing the seeds produced. It was first listed for sale in 1976, and it has been a big favorite ever since. Peonies are always popular sellers, and this top-rated variety will be gone very soon. Order now, while our supplies last.