Ito-peonies - the history of selection, the best varieties and care
Among the favorite herbaceous peonies, yellow-flowered varieties have remained the most coveted, rare and valuable for half a century now. A special category of interspecific hybrids obtained from crossing grassy and tree-like peonies is much closer to grassy stars in terms of its “behavior”. The dying off of the aerial parts in the winter does not prevent one from assessing the originality of these plants. Luxurious shades of large, spectacular flowers fascinate and attract, and each yellow peony in the garden becomes not only a special star, but also the true pride of the collection.
- Yellow peonies with special status - Ito-peonies
- History of selection of yellow peonies
- The best varieties of Ito hybrids
- Features of growing Ito hybrids
Yellow peonies with special status - Ito-peonies
Ito Hybrids, Ito-peonies, or Yellow peonies (international designation - Itoh Hybrid Group, i-hybrids, Itoh hybrids, Itoh group, Intersectional hybrids) - a group or class of hybrid varieties of peonies obtained by crossing a tree peony (Paeonia x suffruticosa) with a milky-flowered peony (Paeonia lactiflora, originally with a semi-double form). They possess features of both peonies, but in garden classifications and in agricultural technology they are closer to grassy ones due to the fact that the aerial part of plants dies in the winter.
Ito hybrids got their name in honor of the scientist who was the first to achieve a stable yellow color of the petals by means of a radically new approach to plant breeding. His work divided the history of peonies into “before” and “after” and became a turning point, expanding the color palette of garden peonies with shades of yellow.
This is the most prestigious and elite group among garden peonies. Many people call plants the most promising, because the possibilities of hybridization and improvement of characteristics open completely new horizons in the cultivation of new varieties. Despite the fact that crossing grassy and tree-like peonies can improve all the characteristics of the variety, including the beauty of foliage, stability, endurance, such intersection hybrids (intersectional hybrids) became famous only due to one single trait - color.
Ito-hybrids are powerful, forming large dense bushes with strong shoots of peonies. The root system is spreading, superficial, lignified with age. The sprawling shape of the bush, which grows more in width than in height, with dense branching and dense foliage allows the plants to look very massive and magnificent.
The height of the yellow peonies ranges from 50 to 90 cm. The shoots deviate or bend, but rarely lie under the weight of the inflorescences. The leaves of Ito-hybrids are more like foliage of tree-shaped peonies. Complicated and carved, they create a unique dark green pillow that preserves decorativeness up to severe frosts. Color changes to yellow in autumn only in some varieties.
Ito hybrids bloom at the tops of annual shoots, as do grassy peonies. But in beauty, the large inflorescences of these peonies are more reminiscent of tree-like brethren. The buds in shape and brown color somewhat resemble the fruits of a chestnut.
Massive, from 15 to 20 cm in diameter, with an elegant pattern of wavy petals that create a picturesque flower, inflorescences always allow you to admire the magnificent center of stamens and staminodes, which seems to be bashfully visible in the center. Due to the fact that the center is visible, Ito-peonies are closer to semi-double varieties and are rarely classified as terry, although the number of petals exceeds any expectations. At the base of the petals, spots are often located. Most varieties cannot boast an amazing strong aroma.
The color scheme of Ito-hybrids includes not only the usual pink-white-cherry tones, and the rarest shades of yellow - from bright lemon to melon, sunny golden, cold shade of ripe lime, often with subtle transitions of nuances. In all varieties, flowers are prone to burnout: in the sun and as the flower blooms, the color gradually fades.
One of the features of Ito-hybrids is the general instability of color. Even the same generation of plants may differ in color and color saturation, depending on deviations in growing conditions, age, quality of care. The same bush in different years may differ in the shape of the crown, and in the color of the inflorescences, and in their size. The same factor made it possible to derive Ito-peonies of the “chameleon” category - changing color several times during flowering.
The flowering period of yellow peonies coincides with the flowering period of mid-late herbaceous peonies. They never bloom in early summer, delighting when most competitors are already leaving the garden scene. Ito-peonies bloom for up to three weeks, the effect of more abundant flowering is achieved due to the fact that the apical buds bloom gradually, and the lateral ones only follow them, stretching the overall time.
Ito-hybrids are excellent cut varieties. They not only stand in the water longer than the flowers of most tree-like and herbaceous peonies, but also, unlike the flowers left on the bushes, the color of the cut ones remains saturated and unchanged until withering.
History of selection of yellow peonies
The history of the hybridization of peonies and the breeding of yellow color in flowers in itself is very exciting. The incredible shades of pink and milk watercolors of these flowers have won hearts for thousands of years, but in the 20th century, with the development of landscape design, and the industry as a whole, the desire to get a peony with an unprecedented yellow color quickly grew into an obsession.
The appearance of yellow peonies did not change the popularity of peonies with much more typical shades, but it still became a sensation and replenished the list of available design options with an exclusive, luxurious option, which is still hunted by both botanical gardens and collectors, as well as private gardeners - true fans of this amazing plant.
The entire history of the breeding of yellow colors in grassy peonies can be conditionally divided into three periods.
Stage 1 - attempts to achieve a yellow color when crossing grassy peonies.
Until 1948, active selection was conducted all over the world and, in many respects, unsuccessful attempts to obtain varieties with a yellow color without drastic measures continued. As a result of selection based on the large-leaved peony, Mlokosevich and Wittmann, who naturally have a yellow pigment flavon by nature, the varieties were modest and only possessing individual yellow details.
During this period, Earl White, who received the first of the conditionally yellow varieties Claire de Lune, whose yellow pigment was so weak that only gave the flower shades of cream and ivory, made the largest contribution to the hybridization of pions.
In the same period, other varieties with cream shades of yellow or yellow color only in stamens and staminodes, but not in petals were bred in garden centers around the world (which are still in great demand today "Ballerina" (Ballerina), "White Sands" (White sands), "Cheddar" (Cheddar cheese), "A gold bracelet" (Golden bracelet), Moon of the Prairies (Prairie moon) and pr).
Stage 2 breeding Ito-pions
Interspecific hybridization of grassy and tree-like peonies by the breeder Toichi Ito was a long-awaited breakthrough in the selection of peonies. Crossbreeding peony yellow (Paeonia delavayi), the only peony in which the yellow carotenoid pigment showed resistance and allowed hybridization without loss of tone, with grassy semi-double peony allowed to get the first variety in history with yellow picturesque flowers.
The official year of the "start" of yellow peonies is considered to be 1948, the full flowering of plants with a unique color took place after the death of the breeder. Until 1967, when the rights to hybrids were sold, another 4 yellow varieties of Ito hybrids bloomed, and today they remain stellar.
Stage 3 - the acquisition of rights to hybrids and the beginning of the American history of peonies
The beginning of the history of yellow peonies in the territory of the New York peony nursery Luis Smirnov with the official registration of varieties under the name Ito-Smirnov marked the replenishment of the collection of varieties and the beginning of the modern history of yellow peonies.
Four basic varieties, registered in 1974, began to spread throughout the world, and the definition of “Ito hybrids” became not only the peony class registered by the American community of pioneers, but also a protected trademark. Other American breeders were also actively working to expand the palette of yellow or almost yellow peonies, and for two decades almost every year a new name appeared in catalogs from the Ito Hybrid section.
Since the end of the 80s of the last century, breeding of Ito hybrids, as well as peonies in general, cannot boast of positive dynamics. Almost all varieties on the market have been bred for a long time, and if new ones appear, they are far from impressive in quantity.
The best varieties of Ito hybrids
Today ito-hybrids are a category of peonies with a huge selection of colors and shades, far from being reduced to a yellow palette. Of course, yellow varieties of Ito peonies remain the most sought after and legendary. But, despite the considerable price and the status of an exclusive decoration of the garden, Ito hybrids are increasingly conquering the market of "white-pink-red" peonies.
The best yellow-flowered Ito hybrids include:
Grade "Yellow Paradise" (Yellow heaven) - watercolor, large and stable peony with very beautiful, densely arranged foliage and bright yellow flowers gradually fading in the sun. This variety is one of the four first registered yellow peonies, distinguished by a buttercup shape and arrangement of petals.
Grade "Yellow dream" (Yellow dream) - one of the first four varieties of yellow peonies, a surprisingly spectacular yellow semi-double peony with a soft, as if tucked up mother of pearl color, bright spots at the base of the petals and beautiful staminodes. Against the background of dark foliage, large inflorescences shine in the sun, shimmering with soft colors and as if absorbing sunlight.
Grade "The Yellow Emperor" (Yellow Emperor) - One of the first yellow varieties of authorship Ito, terry, with wavy, large petals, the classic shape of a flower and orange staminodynia.
Grade The Yellow Crown (Yellow crown) - a charming, picturesque variety - the "progenitor" with a light yellow, oil color, underlined by dark orange stamens in the center of the flower. The petals seem translucent, the leaves are quite bright and bright, the plant as a whole looks amazingly elegant and classic.
Grade "Curb charm" (Border charm) - a light yellow peony with contrasting red-orange spots, as if creating stripes inside the rows of petals. The petals are deeply dissected, fading to the center, almost merging with staminodes.
Grade "Banana obsession" (Going bananas) - a charming contrasting variety with a lemon shade of light yellow color and touches of dark red color at the base of the petals.
Grade Prairie Charm (Prairie charm) - a variety with a unique, muffled, creamy yellow color and translucent, often twisted inward petals with reddish spots, distinguished by a bright center of a flower with yellow staminodynia.
Grade Lemon Dream (Lemon dream) - a unique and very valuable variety with a two-color color, in which double, with translucent petals, flowers with massive staminodia stand out by dividing the flower in half with a contrast color - half pink, half yellow.
Grade Viking Full Moon (Viking full moon) - an amazingly beautiful variety with wide petals overlapping in a spiral with a translucent texture, a cherry base and a rugged edge, creating a curly effect.
Grade The Sun of Sonoma (Sonoma sun) Is a valuable and rare semi-double variety with a light golden color and a massive center highlighted with orange staminodes.
Grade "Kelly's memory" (Callie’s memory) - an amazing cream-fawn-pink-yellow variety, in which dark pink-brown spots at the base emphasize the watercolor play of shades of petals. One of the most striking watercolor varieties among garden peonies.
Grade "Secluded Sun" (Sequestered sunshine) - a bright yellow, gradually turning pale peony with a light pink bloom on the extreme petals and orange highlighting of light green stamens.
Grade Garden Treasure (Garden treasure) Is a fashionable variety with dark leaves, a delicate oil-yellow uniform color and semi-double neat flowers with orange spots at the base, highlighting bright yellow staminodes.
Grade Canary Diamonds (Canary brilliants) - a unique watercolor variety with a combination of fawn and yellow-gold colors, passing from the center to the extreme petals in soft halftones and very dark spots at the base of the petals.
Grade "Singing in the Rain" (Singing in the rain) - a unique recolourable variety that changes color from pink to orange and golden yellow, with bright yellow anthers on pink stamens. It is considered one of the most fragrant and highest meter-richly flowering Ito hybrids.
Grade "Julia Rose" (Julia rose) - a unique variety with fading to yellow color. Pink, unevenly colored throughout the bush inflorescences change color to almost light yellow as they bloom. Watercolor repainting turns the bushes into a picturesque miracle. These are weakly aromatic peonies with a more saturated pink spot at the base of the petals and very small staminodynia.
Grade "Lollipop" (Lollipop) - often giving pink and lilac flowers a variegated variety of peonies with a basic light yellow color, combined with pink-purple stripes, strokes and spots, giving semi-double flowers a mottled ripple.
Grade "Yellow gem" (Yellow gem) - a semi-double peony with almost straight translucent petals and a silk texture, emphasizing the beauty of a delicate watercolor-yellow tone.
Grade "Bartzella" - a light yellow, terry peony with almost spherical flowers, almost straight, uncut petals and orange spots at the base of the inner petals. The diameter of the flowers up to 20 cm allows you to fully appreciate the nuances of color and a pleasant aroma.
Grade "Shining Light" (Shining light) - light yellow, with a brighter base of the petals, a yellow semi-double variety with a classic flower shape.
Today, not only yellow Ito hybrids are widely represented on the market. Cherry, pink, fuchsia, fawn, two-tone and chameleon (color-changing) varieties with unique shades, marked as Ito peonies, offer you to admire the combination of unique textures and shapes.
Varieties "Pink Ardor", "Simply Red", "Copper Kettle", Scarlett Heaven, "Pink Double Dandy", "First Arrival", "Morning Lilac" and dozens of others - an excellent high-frost-resistant and surprisingly lush alternative to the usual grassy and tree-like peonies. These plants, like all Ito-peonies, retain, if not surpass all the practical advantages of yellow varieties.
Features of growing Ito hybrids
Despite the status of luxurious, exclusive and rare varieties, yellow peonies pleasantly surprise both endurance and undemanding care. They are grown according to the same principles as ordinary varietal grassy peonies.
Ito-hybrids love fertile, high-quality soils and warm places. They do not tolerate stagnation of water or the proximity of not only large shrubs and trees, but also buildings. They require a choice of sunny and non-blown areas with drained soil with a neutral or slightly alkaline reaction.
The optimal planting period for these plants is considered to be the end of summer and the beginning of autumn (from the third decade of August to October, in urgent cases - until the end of October). Landing pits should be very wide (up to 1 m in diameter) and deep. The soil is improved according to general rules. The kidneys on the rhizome are located at a level of 3-4 cm from the ground level (but not deeper than 5 cm), with an uneven arrangement of the kidneys, the rhizome is tilted.The plant independently regulates the degree of immersion, but the "start" should not be too deep.
Leaving is reduced to plentiful watering in a drought. Fertilizing starts from the third year, introducing nitrogen fertilizers at the beginning of the season, and potash and phosphorus during flowering. Weed removal combined with loosening is a mandatory measure, as for all peonies.
Ito-peonies are remarkably resistant to pests and diseases; they do not suffer from rust or botrytis. Even yellow peonies overwinter as well as grassy ones; they do not require any more complicated procedures for preparing for wintering. The stems are cut to the level of the kidneys (removing part of the buds formed on the shoots, as in the tree peony), only after the strong frosts affect the bushes (on average - from mid-November). Only bushes that planted very late need mulching for the winter.
The only significant difference that determines the complexity of reproduction and rejuvenation of peonies with yellow flowers is the need to take into account the accelerated lignification of the root system. These peonies can be divided into strong, well-assimilated delenki only at the age of 3-4 years, in the future the process is not only more traumatic, but may also require sawing of bushes.
If there is no goal to increase the collection, then Ito-peonies can be grown as an analogue to woody ones - plants are durable and do not like transplants, except in emergency cases. But if desired, Ito-peonies share a hacksaw or saw, even at a significant age. When dividing plants on one divide, 2 to 5 buds of renewal are put aside.