Botan, or peonies, represent good fortune, nobility and bravery in Japan. They were brought to Japan by Buddhist monks in the 8th century for their medicinal properties, and over the next thousand years were planted in gardens around Japan as ornamental flowers.
Peonies and Iris by Kubo Shunman
You'll often see peonies depicted in ukiyo-e woodblock prints, or painted on vases, screens or kimono. They're even one of the most popular irezumi, or traditional Japanese tattoos!
Flowers and Grasses of the Four Seasons - Circle of Kano Mitsunobu
Peonies come in two different types of growth habits, plus a third hybrid: herbaceous, tree, and itoh. Paeonia suffruticosa is a specific group of tree peonies that are known as "King of the flowers" in Japan and China. Itoh peonies were created by a horticulturalist from Tokyo, and are a hyrbid of herbaceous and tree peonies.
Dip the heads of your peony buds in luke warm water to speed up the blooming process
1) Sugar helps prolong the life of the peonies, so be sure to add a packet of flower food
2) Cut stems diagonally while under water to prevent air bubbles from forming
3) Remove any leaves that sit under water to reduce bacteria
4) Recut stems and change the water every few days to keep your peonies fresh
5) Keep an eye on the water level as peonies can drink a lot of water
6) Peony buds have a natural sealant on the petals that holds the bud closed. To encourage buds to bloom faster, dunk the peony head in water to remove some of the sealant